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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ecohydrological Processes, Scale, Climate Variability, and Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

Title: Very high resolution time-lapse photography for plant and ecosystems research

Authors
item Nichols, Mary
item Steven, J. -
item Sargent, R. -
item Dille, P. -
item Schapiro, J. -

Submitted to: Applications in Plant Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 5, 2013
Publication Date: September 2, 2013
Citation: Nichols, M.H., Steven, J., Sargent, R., Dille, P., Schapiro, J. 2013. Very high resolution time-lapse photography for plant and ecosystems research. Applications in Plant Sciences. 1(9):1300033.

Interpretive Summary: A robotic camera system was used to create very high resolution, zoomable time-lapse videos of plant growth and movement in a laboratory and monsoon induced vegetation response at a remote site in southern Arizona. A critical part of the project was the development of a solar powered charging system so that the robotic mount and camera could be operated without plugging in to a wall outlet. Images were taken every two hours at the remote field site during a one month time period and were stitched to create panoramas that were sequenced to produce a time-lapse video that can be zoomed to display high-resolution spatial detail. This type of photography will be useful for both capturing legacy data and for supporting a broad range of hypothesis driven research.

Technical Abstract: Very high resolution gigapixel photography increasingly is being used to support a broad range of ecosystem and physical process research because it offers an inexpensive means of simultaneously collecting information at a range of spatial scales. Recently, methods have been developed to incorporate temporal scaling based on commercially available hardware and new software to create very high resolution zoomable time-lapse imagery. The system was tested in a laboratory where sets of 21 images were taken every 15 minutes over a 32 day period to create a zoomable time-lapse sequence of plant growth and movement. The system was subsequently modified for field use. This paper describes the hardware and methods employed to overcome the technical challenges associated with weather and power supply to capture monsoon season vegetation changes at a remote field site in southern Arizona. Images collected every two hours during a one month time period were stitched and the resultant panoramas were used to create a time-lapse video that can be zoomed to display high-resolution spatial detail. This type of photography will be useful for both capturing legacy data and for supporting a broad range of hypothesis driven research.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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