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Photo Monitoring



Photography is a powerful and affordable way to document all kinds of environmental issues. We'll be collecting different techniques and tips here -- stay tuned and pitch in where you can! We'll be starting with a focus on #timelapse photography:

Why

Timelapse is a visual form that:

  • is relatively cheap to collect
  • produces easier-to-read data: photos
  • can give good visual context to a problem, compared to (or paired with) sensor data
  • situates the data in a timeline

What environmental problems might this apply to

Timelapse photography, or photographic monitoring is a good way to document the changes in a landscape over time, or an incident you need images of when you might not be there to capture them in person such as:

  • sediment runoff in a stream from a disturbed site
  • the changes in opacity of a smoke stack
  • an explosion at a mining site

What limitations does the method have

  • To set up the camera, you will need access to a secure location where your site of interest can be seen.
  • Depending on how often you have the camera set to take photos, you could end up with a lot of images to go through.
  • There have been documented challenges in capturing images with glare (from the sun, snow and water) (see Frequently Asked Questions)

Where do conversations about this method happen

  • Discussions around photographic monitoring are happening on the Midwest group through a few on-going projects, as well as on publiclab.org through this page (see the Actives, Frequently Asked Questions, and Updates sections below)

Midwest group: publiclab-midwest

How to get a timelapse camera

Timelapse cameras can be found at sporting goods stores and online. They are also called "trail cameras" or "game cameras." Public Lab has a few time lapse cameras that can be loaned out for projects. Interested in starting a timelapse monitoring project? Post a note about what you're interested in doing with the tag timelapse so we can learn about it!

Updates

Title Author Updated Likes
What happens when we use timelapse to monitor blasting at mine sites? @mlamadrid 2 days ago
Photo Documentation of Frac Sand Mine Surface Water Spills @mlamadrid 2 days ago
ShenangoChannel.org - a dashboard for monitoring and sharing @liz 10 days ago
How do I make a video from a series of photos? @warren about 1 month ago
Monitoring Sargent Sand Mining operation in Ludington, Michigan @glennwalquist about 1 month ago
Who can vouch for, or interpret, evidence in court, and how is it weighed? @warren about 1 month ago
What are the limits to what can be interpreted from a photograph without an expert witness? @warren about 1 month ago
What are ways to strengthen photographic evidence in court? @warren about 1 month ago
A month in the field and nothing to show @bkleist 3 months ago
Can we use a timelapse or video camera to monitor particulate air plumes? @gretchengehrke 4 months ago
What's the best way to archive/store a timelapse video? @warren 4 months ago
Has anyone tried a dashboard camera for timelapse or aerial mapping? @warren 5 months ago
Hacking trail cameras to document blasts on Mountaintop Removal sites @LauraChipley over 1 year ago
Update on the photo monitoring plugin for ImageJ/Fiji @nedhorning about 4 years ago
Photo monitoring plugin for ImageJ/Fiji @nedhorning over 4 years ago

Timelapse Activities

Timelapse photography is a way to automatically trigger a camera on an interval -- for example, every minute, or every hour.

Here are some posted activities related to timelapse; we're still seeking a clear guide to setting up and using a #trail-cam to do timelapses, so please reach out if you're able to help document this!

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Scripting Raspberry Pi to boot and shoot timelapse photos build review-me @mathew - hard 0 replications: Try it »
Using Mobius camera as a "trap cam" in field deployments - - @tonyc - - 0 replications: Try it »
Bean Cam - - @cfastie 1d medium 0 replications: Try it »
CrocusCam observe - @cfastie 10h hard 0 replications: Try it »
DaffyCam - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »

Add an activity Request an activity guide

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Frequently Asked Questions

We're collecting and working our way through a wide array of questions about timelapse photography -- if you can contribute your own questions, or answer others', please do!

Ask a question about timelapse photography

Title Author Updated Likes
What happens when we use timelapse to monitor blasting at mine sites? @mlamadrid 2 days ago
Advice regarding taking photos over frozen surface? @stevie about 1 month ago
How do you get the Crenova Game and Trail Hunting Camera into time-lapse mode? @stevie about 1 month ago
How do I make a video from a series of photos? @warren about 1 month ago
Trail camera on State Park Land? @DMerwitz 3 months ago
Can we use a timelapse or video camera to monitor particulate air plumes? @gretchengehrke 4 months ago
Is there a water quality equivalent of Smoke School, the EPA air pollution observer certification? @warren 4 months ago
What's the best way to archive/store a timelapse video? @warren 4 months ago
Has anyone used a timelapse camera in stream monitoring? @stevie 5 months ago
Has anyone tried a dashboard camera for timelapse or aerial mapping? @warren 5 months ago
Initial results and resolution of timelapse mode issue: PL Mobius Infragram Point and Shoot @patcoyle about 2 years ago


Frac sand photographic monitoring

There's some good resources posted on this page which are specific to water monitoring or monitoring of frac sand sites -- check it out, and we're working to open some of these ideas up into questions and activities soon.


About the data

Type of data This method produces data in the form of images. Most cameras are also able to timestamp images.

Addons:

  • Some cameras also have the ability to capture GPS data.
  • This monitoring method can be paired with weather monitoring stations for a richer data set.
  • Sending images to the internet has been another add-on for these type of projects.

Uses for the data


photo-monitoring timelapse tool trapcam trap-cam trail-cam activities:timelapse upgrades:timelapse method