Capture the changing seasons with a DIY time-lapse rig

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Photographer Forrest Pound, who goes by fpound on Instructables, was faced with a challenge. The film Watershed needed long-term time-lapse photography to showcase seasonal changes in a variety of different environments. (You can see some of the results in the video after the jump.)

As Pound notes in his Instructables project, a standard DSLR battery can get you the time-lapse footage you want, if you’re working on a small enough time scale. But if you want to track snow melting over a four-month-period, a tiny camera battery just won’t cut it.

Moreover, leaving a camera on a tripod in the backcountry is a terrible idea if you actually want your camera to survive a number of months there. In order to make a snowproof, rainproof and wildlife-proof enclosure, Pound used a Pelican case (extended with a tube of PVC pipe) to hold a Canon 20D and intervalometer.

In order to give it enough power, Pound used a deep-cycle RV appliance battery, which he then stored in a separate weatherproof case and hooked up to a dummy battery inside the camera using a voltage converter.

Long Term Time Lapses from Kontent Films on Vimeo.

The biggest potential problem, according to Pound, was someone wandering along and stealing the whole kit. To try to combat that, he left notes explaining the purpose of the boxes and locked a number of them that were left in high traffic areas. According to Pound, “when we returned to the cameras, they had not been tampered with at all and my trust in humanity prevailed.”

Even so, the risk of theft is definitely something to consider before plunking top dollar down on a DSLR to leave out in a public space. But if you’re willing to take that risk, Pound’s work shows that the results can be illuminating.


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