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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Timelapsing a stump

Dawn at the cabin, Flathead County, Montana.

A couple weeks ago I tried my hand at "timelapsing" the feeding frenzy at Carl and Ginger's cabin in western Montana. 

Ginger's dawn ritual includes stoking several stumps with black sunflower seed, and shortly thereafter the feeding frenzy begins.

I normally use the standard homebrew with passive infra-red sensor built into the controller, but this was a photo-op chock-full-o-squirrels, and Carl and I wanted to test two new set-ups. 

Two codgers setting the Canon Rebel with the Trailmaster 1500.

We rigged my Canon Rebel XTi with a Trailmaster 1500 active Infra-red sensor, and a highly accurate sensor it is.

The subject has to break the narrow active infra-red beam to trigger the camera, which means you can capture photos in a specific location and distance from the camera.

The downside it that it takes more time to set than a regular homebrew, but that's a small price to pay for a crisply focussed photo of Sasquatch, right?  

We also played with a Canon A630 that I had hacked using the Canon Hack Development Kit or CHDK.

With this camera we experimented with timelapse photography using intervals of 30 and 5 seconds. 

I should point out that you can create timelapse sequences with irregularly timed exposures using any trail camera if the subject rewards you with a pile of images over a relatively short span of time.

True timelapse however shutters pictures at regular pre-selected intervals using a controller programmed for timelapse, or in this case, a timelapse script for CHDK. 

When we compared the results, we found that . . . 

the Canon-Trailmaster set-up took very good pictures, but many opportunities were lost because of the narrow zone of the AIR sensor. In other words, it wasn't clicking away at one picture every 5 or even 30 seconds.

The Canon timelapse on the other hand generated a huge number of images, and so there was bound to be a few good ones showing diagnostic characters.
Thus we identified the chipmunk as the red-tailed chipmunk (Tamias ruficaudus) -- a new species for the codger.

Mountain chickadee

With the exception of Steller's jays, which were constantly flinching, the birds were not as bold as the rodents.

Here's a couple hours of stump dancing condensed to a couple minutes.


Anonymous said...

Sweet- but needs a soundtrack..."Stuck in the Middle with You"?

Camera Trap Codger said...

Great suggestion -- must find an audio expert. Hmmm.