The Raspberry Pi Camera is surprisingly good and easy to use.  I am very happy with how simple it is to take pictures and use other free software to make time lapse movies with it.


During this winter break, I asked the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier if I could use their network and balcony to take some pictures.  They were more than happy to oblige, and I was out there on December 29th getting some photos.  It was about -6C at the time, so I didn't spend a lot of time composing the shot.  After getting a practice image or two:




I was ready to set the camera to take a whole bunch of pictures.  While I wasn't going for a well composed shot (again, it was -6C, and I wasn't wearing gloves) I knew that I wanted something that wasn't going to move somewhere it in it.  In the movie below, you will see that that is some drift, so a second flag pole gets in to the shot. 


The command is pretty simple


raspistill -vf -hf -o /home/pi/camera/sky%04d.jpg -tl 60000 -t 18000000


This will take an image every 60000 milliseconds for a total of 18000000 milliseconds (5 hours).  All of it gets saved to the camera folder in my home directory.  The "%04d" means that they will be numbered sequentially (sky0001, sky0002, etc) as they go.  That makes it easy to sequence them later on.  I let it sit out for five hours.


After that, I collected the Raspberry Pi from the museum, and took it home to see what I got.  I found the easiest and fastest way for me to get these off the device was to use WinSCP and use SFTP.  That allowed me to transfer the images off the RPi and on to my laptop.


From there, I used Cineform from GoPro to make the time lapse.  There are probably better programs out there for doing this, but I found this one to be very easy to use.  There is a three step process for making the time lapse video, and it results in an mp4 file that can be uploaded to YouTube.



All in all, it was very easy and satisfying to do this project. 


There are some things I would like to do once the weather gets a little better (April-ish). 

  • Take time-lapse photos of the sky against a static sky line view for several days.  I saw a great project done in San Francisco, and I would like to re-create it in Chicago.
  • Take a picture of the sun every day at noon, against a static background.  Over the course of a year, it should make a figure 8.  The shape of that figure changes based on the distance from the equator, so I thought it would be neat to get several different latitudes (every 10 or 20 degrees or so) to do this. 


Finding things that change slowly, but dramatically is a challenge.  It looks like some of the Raspberry Pi road testers, like nbizzell are off to a really good start!


I hope you are all having a good new year!