Time Lapse Photography from the Dashboard

Time Lapse Photography is actually a cinematography technique where a series of photos are taken at one rate and then played back as a video at a much faster rate than they were taken.  In this instance, I programmed the camera to take a photo every 15 seconds. 


This was all shot using my old Canon PowerShot SD 950 on a $10 mini tripod just sitting on the dashboard.  To the best of my knowledge, there are very few (if any) point and shoot cameras that will actually do time lapse photography, and this one doesn’t either.  Thanks to a great group of developers, we have the CHDK!

What is CHDK?

  • Canon Hack Development Kit;
  • Temporary – No permanent changes are made to the camera.
  • Experimental – No warranty. Read about the risks in the FAQ
  • Free – free to use and modify, released under the GPL.
  • Professional control – RAW files, bracketing, full manual control over exposure, Zebra-Mode, Live histogram, Grids, etc.
  • Motion detection – Trigger exposure in response to motion, fast enough to catch lightning.
  • USB remote – Simple DIY remote allows you to control your camera remotely.
  • Scripting – Control CHDK and camera features using ubasic and Lua scripts. Enables time lapse, motion detection, advanced bracketing, and much more.
  • More – read the Manual & explore this wiki.

Then I used Picasa to make the time lapse movie.  Within Picasa, you can select all of the photos that you want to stitch together in a movie.  Click ‘CREATE’ in the top navigation bar, and then select ‘MOVIE’.  A very simple dialog opens that lets you add Slides (text), load an audio track, pick the transitions between videos, and then even publish the video straight to YouTube.

By John Stover

John Stover Bio.

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