Sunday, 13 June 2010

Time Lapse Photography + FireFox Flash Problem

For some time now I have been taking the RSS feed from DIY Photography. A few days ago there was an article explaining how Marco Jetti made an electronic circuit to take time lapse photos with his Canon DSLR. The article may be read HERE. There is a link to the circuit diagram but layout is up to the builder.

This idea took my imagination so I decided to have a go at building the circuit to operate my 350D. I stripped out the old contents from a project box I had been given years ago and set about searching my junk boxes to find the parts I needed. The original used a photo isolator chip to trigger the camera but I don't have one of those so I used a small relay instead. It took me most of yesterday afternoon, my eyesight and soldering skills not being what they used to be. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Eventually I ended up with this:


Not the world's neatest layout but it worked! Controls allow time lapse from 1 photo every 4 seconds to 1 every 48 seconds. The circuit is powered by a small 9V battery and the black wire is from a cable release for the 350D with the push button replaced by the contacts in the orange relay.

After my evening meal I set up the camera in the kitchen, on a sturdy tripod, and set the intervalometer (as people like to call the circuit) to its maximum and left it to it for a couple of hours. The camera was using the M setting which happened to be set to 1/200 at f11. To get the fading daylight it was necessary to use a manual setting. Also as high resolution photos were not needed for the final movie I set the photo size to S.

The next task was to convert the resulting 120+ photos to a video. I had downloaded a free program which was supposed to do this automatically but it failed miserably. Next I tried loading the photos in Windows Movie Maker but it wanted to show each picture for too long and the result was very jerky. In the end I used Ulead Video Studio 11+. A bit better but it needed two goes to get it looking reasonable. The first run through made a video with each frame being shown for one second. The shortest available in the program. When that video was saved I reloaded it and saved it again only this time speeded up 900 pc! This is the result:

Still a bit jerky. Future attempts need to use a shorter time interval between shots, maybe one every ten seconds to give a smoother result. As the resulting set of photos will run into hundreds I need to find a working program which will do the job of making the video automatically. It is no fun pasting each one individually into the time line in Video Studio.

If you don't fancy an exercise in soldering then there is at least one other way of achieving the same result, one of which can be found on the Instructables web site. This method uses a Texas Instruments graphing calculator to do the timing and triggering of the camera. You can read about it HERE. I have not tried this method but understand it should work with the TI-82  TI-83  TI-84 and TI-89.


Last night I got an automatic update for Adobe Flash but since then no flash will work in Firefox. It is fine in Opera and IE. I have tried to download the needed plugin but all attempts have failed. Anybody else with the same problem? Better still does anyone have a solution as I cannot see any movie files in Firefox at the moment.


  1. The technicalities are a bit beyond my brain John, but the finished video looked pretty good to me.

    I got the automatic update for Adobe Flash too, but everything seems fine here. I use Opera browser, but I did try Firefox to view your blog, and the videos work fine.

  2. Thanks for the input Keith. Yes Opera and IE are working fine here with flash but somehow Firefox has got screwed up.

  3. I really admire your ability to put together various 'systems' to get the photos and videos you want - then I also admire your creativity with the results! Great work, John!

  4. Thank you Mick. I must admit I get bored if I'm not experimenting with something and time lapse is one thing I have always wanted to be able to do. It really suits certain events, clouds, plants growing, etc..

  5. Very cool post, John. Your first attempt is pretty darn good. We are now expecting great things from you!


  6. As if time doesn't fly by fast enough already ;) Very impressive and well done! I saw a quick whip of Bobby ;) I'll be looking forward to more of your time lapse photography. It's great that your experiment worked and hope you find a program that will automatically turn it into a video. I love to see the changes in the sky and cloud formations. I hope you are able to figure out the problem with Adobe Flash - might it be an idea to upload a previous version from their site?

  7. Thank you Wilma. I am looking forward to seeing some colourful sunsets as they should suit the technique just fine.

  8. Thank you Glo. Yes - I finally found a program, for free, which automatically turns the still photos into a movie so now I don't mind how many hundreds of stills it takes.

    Spent hours trying to fix flash yesterday to no avail. Uninstalling and re-installing. I'll have a look for the previous version.

  9. Hello again Glo. I finally found the previous version of Adobe Flash and it installed in FireFox just fine so all seems to be back to normal again - at last!

  10. Hi John,
    Interesting clouds. I have used MEncoder for creating time lapse video from jpg's and it works well, over 10,000 images processed in a matter of minutes. It's a command line utility so it's not easy to use but very powerful and fast.

  11. Hello Mark. Thanks for the suggestion. At the moment I ma using the trial version of VideoMach which allows quite a bit of tweaking with its video filters.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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