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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 photography is a visual form of data collection that:

  • is relatively cheap to collect (~$100, see below)
  • 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:

image description

(Above: monitoring a mountaintop removal site: see this note)

Limitations

  • 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)

Conversations & collaboration

  • 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 Activities, Frequently Asked Questions, and Updates sections below)

Midwest group: publiclab-midwest


timelapse-camera

Get a timelapse camera

Timelapse cameras can be found at sporting goods stores and online. They are also called "trail cameras" or "game cameras."

See the Timelapse Kit page for more, and to borrow one (if available)

Case studies

Title Author Updated Likes
Trail Cam: Stream/ Wetland Sedimentation @dswenson 29 days ago
ShenangoChannel.org - a dashboard for monitoring and sharing @liz 3 months ago
Monitoring Sargent Sand Mining operation in Ludington, Michigan @glennwalquist 4 months ago
Hacking trail cameras to document blasts on Mountaintop Removal sites @LauraChipley over 1 year ago


Related techniques

Timelapse photography may also make use of a number of other techniques, such as:

There are also possibilities with cell-network-enabled trail cameras, though they're mostly a bit more expensive; they'd need a mobile phone plan and a SIM card to work. Many are around $400, but these (pretty poorly rated) ones were around $100:


Updates

Title Author Updated Likes
Frac sand hotspot testing and site survey @stevie 6 days ago
Good guides on doing a photo survey of a site? @warren 13 days ago
Next Saturday: Timelapse Kit workshop and Social Emergency Response Center in Somerville @warren 15 days ago
Trail Cam: Stream/ Wetland Sedimentation @dswenson 29 days ago
Air Quality Monitoring at UWEC @bkleist about 1 month ago
What happens when we use timelapse to monitor blasting at mine sites? @mlamadrid 2 months ago
Photo Documentation of Frac Sand Mine Surface Water Spills @mlamadrid 2 months ago
ShenangoChannel.org - a dashboard for monitoring and sharing @liz 3 months ago
How do I make a video from a series of photos? @warren 4 months ago
Monitoring Sargent Sand Mining operation in Ludington, Michigan @glennwalquist 4 months ago
Show 11 more
Who can vouch for, or interpret, evidence in court, and how is it weighed? @warren 4 months ago
What are the limits to what can be interpreted from a photograph without an expert witness? @warren 4 months ago
What are ways to strengthen photographic evidence in court? @warren 4 months ago
A month in the field and nothing to show @bkleist 5 months ago
Can we use a timelapse or video camera to monitor particulate air plumes? @gretchengehrke 6 months ago
Zero dark thirsty: Capturing replenishing nighttime rain events with a trail camera @cfastie 6 months ago
What's the best way to archive/store a timelapse video? @warren 6 months ago
Has anyone tried a dashboard camera for timelapse or aerial mapping? @warren 7 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 over 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 »
Hacking trail cameras to document blasts on Mountaintop Removal sites - - @LauraChipley - - 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 »
Use a rubber band and knotted string to trigger a camera build complete @mathew 15m easy 0 replications: Try it »
IR+VS TIMELAPSE - - @hunter - - 0 replications: Try it »
CrocusCam observe - @cfastie 10h hard 0 replications: Try it »
DaffyCam - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
How to visually document a site - - @stevie - - 1 replications: Try it »

Add an activity  or request an activity

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!

Title Author Updated Likes
What happens when we use timelapse to monitor blasting at mine sites? @mlamadrid 2 months ago
Advice regarding taking photos over frozen surface? @stevie 3 months ago
How do you get the Crenova Game and Trail Hunting Camera into time-lapse mode? @stevie 4 months ago
How do I make a video from a series of photos? @warren 4 months ago
Trail camera on State Park Land? @DMerwitz 5 months ago
Can we use a timelapse or video camera to monitor particulate air plumes? @gretchengehrke 6 months ago
Is there a water quality equivalent of Smoke School, the EPA air pollution observer certification? @warren 6 months ago
What's the best way to archive/store a timelapse video? @warren 6 months ago
Has anyone used a timelapse camera in stream monitoring? @stevie 7 months ago
Has anyone tried a dashboard camera for timelapse or aerial mapping? @warren 7 months ago
Show 1 more
Initial results and resolution of timelapse mode issue: PL Mobius Infragram Point and Shoot @patcoyle over 2 years ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions


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


agriculture photo-monitoring timelapse mining urban-planning fracking tool industry trapcam trap-cam trail-cam method land-change oil-and-gas

activities:timelapse upgrades:timelapse