Time-lapse monitoring in scientific studies

Time-lapse photography is an ideal tool for monitoring processes of change that occur over particularly long periods of time. Because science often focuses on the study of the universe and its processes, the benefits of long-term (and short-term) time-lapse can be applied to this.

As well as using it for long-term construction projects, events, marketing etc., time-lapse monitoring is perfect for studying the world around us on a more scientific level. In this blog we take a look at some videos created by individuals and hobbyists, showing some alternative uses for this photographic process.
As this ‘classic’ seed growing video by William Hall demonstrates, the time-lapse gives the luxury of viewing the natural process of change in a short, contained sequence.

It was created by capturing one image every four minutes, condensing 10 days of seed germination into a minute-long sequence.


Seed germination HD Timelapse from William Hall on Vimeo.
The study of astronomy also benefits from time-lapse capture, bringing solar elements to life. Movements and activities taking place in space are shown at an accelerated pace, making them visible and more pronounced to the naked eye.

Till Credner uses a fisheye lens in this video to show the northern night sky as seen from the edge of the Swabian Alb plateau in southern Germany.

The wide angle of the lens adds a depth of field that, when combined with the accelerated rate of playback, shows Earth’s rotation before our very eyes. In fact, it gives the illusion that the sky itself is rotating.

Capturing the rotation of other stars around Polaris (aka the North Star) and the long-exposure technique in this time-lapse, Credner allows us to view an accurate reflection of the various movements within this particular solar constellation over a 10-hour period.


From dusk till dawn at Zeller Horn from Till Credner on Vimeo.
Studying the behaviour of animals can also be achieved through use of short-term, rapid interval time-lapse capture. Will Burrard-Lucas used this to great effect when capturing wildebeest migrating into the Serengeti.

Upwards of 10,000 individuals are able to complete the crossing in a half an hour period, although an unlucky few succumb to broken legs, drowning and the river’s crocodile population.


Migration from Will Burrard-Lucas on Vimeo.
Not only do they present striking visual narratives, time-lapse monitoring videos can also be used to make science education both engaging and fun for its students!
And a slightly different take on ‘science time-lapse’…


Science Museum time-lapse from Flavio Ferrari on Vimeo.

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