My First Attempt at Time Lapse Photography

Hey everyone,

I discovered that I can do time lapse photography, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It was actually very easy (See below the video for a description of what I used).

Now, doing it well and just doing it are pretty far apart, and I know I’ve got a long way to go, but for all being done within the first 24 hours of realizing that I had the capability, I’m pretty proud of what I came up with and I thought sharing how easy it is to get started might be beneficial.

The music is something that I composed and played in MuseScore a while back (it was sitting around, so I thought I’d use it). I’m not a musician, so forgive its simplicity and the fact that the instruments are all midi simulations rather than… something that sounds good.

For those that are interested, the shot locations are as follows:
-First two clips with the water – Calavara Lake in Carlsbad, Ca
-The ants and two oak tree clips – Buena Vista Park in Vista, Ca
-Last shot with the grass – out my window in Vista, Ca

 

The camera I used is a Cannon PowersShot SX160 IS with CHDK installed on it. I’ve had the camera for a few years now and I like it, but if I were shopping for it all over again, I would choose something else for one simple reason: this specific PowerShot eats through batteries like a puppy through pizza (maybe a little less messy). The other models of PowerShot I had in the past were not this way. It’s powered by 2 AA batteries and can’t (as far as I’ve figured out) be powered externally (if anyone has any suggestions other than the toothpick trick, please share). Just in the shots used in this video I went through 12 AA battieries; I’m a MONSTER! They are still half full for many other devices, but the camera says they’re dead and turns off. They worked long enough to get these shots, but if I wanted to shoot over a time longer than about 45 minutes (and I do), this just isn’t going to cut it.

CHDK is a set of firmware updates that you can use to increase the functionality of Cannon PowerShots. Model specific downloads and directions can be found here: http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK
CHDK is temporary. You just run it off of the memory card and it allows you to run scripts on your camera. The CHDK download for most PowerShots, I believe, come with an intervalometer script. That’s the one I use. It is very simple once you figure out the menus. You set up your camera ready to go with whatever settings you want, then you tell the intervalometer script a time interval, and launch it. It then takes an image every time that interval is up. For example, if I set it to 10 seconds, it will take an image every 10 seconds until I tell it to stop or it runs out of batteries and turns itself off (the latter usually being the case for me). I did find that, because the camera takes a moment to take and save the images, if you set it too short, it will just take an image whenever it is ready. The clip with the ants, for example, was supposed to be a 1 second interval, but it took one image every time it was ready, which was somewhere between 6 and 7 seconds. The rest of my clips were set to 10 seconds or longer and worked like a charm.

A tripod is a good idea. None of these were taken using a tripod, and I think it shows. My tripod was broken, and the one I ordered was sitting on my doorstep when I got back from the last shot for this. One thing that was kind of cool, but 100% unplanned was the sort of droopy panning effect in a couple of shots. Those happened because I set the camera on its empty case and over the course of 45 minutes or so, the whole thing settled. While it worked out this time, I can see how it could completely ruin a set and is probably impossible to plan exactly where the camera ends up pointing. I don’t know how professionals do the fancy pan shots (hey, I’ve only been at this for a day) but I’m 97.46% sure it has nothing to do with setting the camera on a cloth sack propped against a rock and hoping for the best.

Once I got the shots and made it home, I used the OpenShot Video Editor in Linux. OpenShot allows you to import sequences of pictures. It uploads them like a video clip, with some set number of frames per second and you can manipulate it just like any other video clip. OpenShot is free and very intuitive.
I had a few issues, however. OpenShot uses sequential numbering on the file names to determine which files to include and their order. My camera uses a 4 digit number in the file names. There’s some sort of bug (that took me a while to find talk of on the internet) where if the first image in the sequence has more than a 3 digit number, it tries to upload, then the clip just says “INVALID.” So, I rename all the files to have 3 digit numbers. No, I don’t do it by hand. There are many ways to do this. I had a python script already set up to do something like this, so I just re-purposed it and it works. I have a suspicion that I’m going to get told that the easiest way is to use a BASH script. Feel free to tell me, but I already made my Python tool… so… there.
OpenShot is a little lacking in control of the rate that it plays the images. You can not adjust how many frames per second it shows (I don’t know what the standard is, something near 30?). You can have it double of triple each image while importing if you want it to play 2 or 3 times more slowly. I doubled the images on 3 of the clips because I thought they were too fast, but, for the most part, I feel like being able to speed up or slow down these clips would be handy.Another issue I had with OpenShot is that it is, at least on my computer, very slow with videos of this resolution. You may notice that in the above video the syncing of dramatic moments in the music with clip changes is a bit off. This is because I had to export the video each time just to see if it worked, because the playback option in OpenShot was sketchy and would get stuck. When I reduced the resolution, it worked just fine, so that’s a potential solution as well, but I think I might try experimenting with some other software (any suggestions?).
I feel the need to repeat myself here, though… OpenShot is free… So, that’s really nice.

The music was composed in MuseScore in Linux. It is also free and pretty neat. MuseScore is composition software with a midi simulation playback option which is fantastic for someone like me with no idea what they are doing. It has it’s limits, though. The midi playback IS still midi, and it sounds like it… but it was sort of fun getting to output my song as an mp3 and use it in the video. Maybe someday I’ll use music from real instruments, but for goofing around and learning, I think it works just fine.

I hope you found this enlightening or helpful. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions… though… remember, I’m figuring it out as I go along. In all liklyhood, questions will result in us trying to figure it out together rather than me already knowing the answer. That’s the fun part anyway, though, right?

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A monkey, a Cowboy, and a Taco

None of these images are quite a comic, but I thought the first two each told a story, so I thought I’d share them with you this week. All are available on shirts and mugs and whatnot through RedBubble. Follow the link below each if you are curious!

MonkeyTree.png

https://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/25639369-monkey-balloon

ThCowboy2.png

There are 2 versions of this one:
https://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/25654895-cowboy
http://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/25655491-cowboy-2

I also made this shirt a while back and never shared it with you… so here it is.

Tacos

https://www.redbubble.com/people/imasillypirate/works/24865275-tacos

 

Liebster

Hey everyone!
My blog was nominated for a Liebster Award by my friend Mia (She’s rad, follow her on the twitters: @triadvstrinity) in her blog post https://triadvstrinity.squarespace.com/blog/2015/2/6/the-liebster-award.

The way it works is that I am supposed to answer the questions and nominate some people or something… I don’t know, it sounds awfully pyramidy to me. So, in the name of community I decided to answer the questions, but in the name of having a problem with authority and pyramids I decided to not push it on with more nominations. Feel free, instead, to see that as me saying “I NOMINATE EVERYONE!” if you want to answer some questions.

At the end, because this blog is a place for stories and these awards and blog hops are designed, ultimately, to learn things about each other, I’ll share a quick, true story about my childhood. Thus fulfilling both needs.

Mia’s questions were as follows:

1) If you met a genie, what would be your three wishes?
     I would wish the genie free, so we could be buddies and have a cartoon spin off together.

2) What’s the best joke you’ve ever been told?
     I don’t think I should tell it here… I’m not sure it’s appropriate.

3) Television show that let’s you escape no matter how many times you watch it. (Movie works too.)
     Stargate. I love Stargate, specifically SG1 and Atlantis. Universe was alright, but not the same sort of show.

4) How many WIPs do you have?
      So, my educational background is in physics and at Cal Poly, where I did my undergrad, there was a club called Women in Physics, which used the acronym WiP. My first thought when I see WIP is still “Women in Physics” before context convinces me otherwise. So to answer that question instead, I have zero. I DO, however, have one woman in astronomy… and she is amazing.

5) If you had to choose one book to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
      That’s a tough one. I don’t know that I could do that. Can it be a collection of a bunch of other books??

6) How old were you when you knew that you wanted to be a writer?
      I’ve always been a story teller. I’ve been writing for many years. It was only recently that I realized that maybe other people might appreciate my writing too.

7) Why do you write?
      I already have a blog post about that!  https://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/why-i-write/

8) What is the most exotic/grooviest (yeah, I just said groovy, you’re over it) place you’ve ever been?
      My brain hole is pretty groovy. I like living there. I did recently visit Portland, and I liked it there quite a bit.

9) What’s your writing pick me up? Do you have a certain food or drink or dance move that gets you in the zone and ready to go? (Singing at the top of your lungs is perfectly acceptable.)
     Writing IS the pick me up. Nothing is better than actually getting a chance to sit down and write, then knocking it out of the park.
LOOK! LOOK GUYS! I made a sport’s reference! (That was golf, right?)

10) What gets you fired up? (To be interpreted as you wish.)
     Being covered in lighter-fluid when someone flicks a match at me, I think, would probably fire me up (You said I could interpret it however I want…).

11) If you were to try to make it rain, what would be your go to chant?
     Rain, Rain, Go Away… because that’s how it works. :/

That was a bit of a downer as a way to finish this off… so… I’ll tell you all an amusing tidbit about my childhood, so you can all laugh at me together (see, I’m fostering a sense of community).

I grew up in Carmel Valley in Monterey, Ca. During the summers it got hot sometimes; I’m not talking about San Diego temperatures, but sometimes we’d break 100 degrees. At one point I was given this kid’s jumpsuit, I have no idea what it’s called, but I’m certain that it has a name (think gray, 80’s puffy jacket, but from head to toe, for sitting on the back of a motorcycle in cold wind). When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut. So, obviously, in the summer, left to my own devices, it wasn’t uncommon to see me wandering around in the bushes in my “space suit” which, of course, was a dirt bike helmet, that jumpsuit, and rain boots. I got hot, but I’d just pretend I was exploring the jungles of Venus… I probably should have died, because what kid actually thinks about hydrating? If the heat was giving me a headache, that was part of the game; that would happen on Venus.

One day, while wearing my space suit, I was climbing a dead tree that hung out over a bunch of berry brambles (because I, apparently, am very smart) and (Surprise!) the brittle, dead branch I was holding onto came off in my hand, dropping me into the brambles below. If I had hit the ground, that would have been one thing, but the brambles caught my suit and held me just far enough above the ground so that my little feet couldn’t reach. It took me about half an hour to get to the ground, but you better believe that, despite the wedgie and the gashes all up and down my arms, I took advantage of the situation and pretended that I was weightless.

tree

Some things don’t change. This is me in a tree just last week… I climbed up there to tie my shoe.