Public Lab is an open community which collaboratively develops accessible, open source, Do-It-Yourself technologies for investigating local environmental health and justice issues.
Photography is a powerful and affordable way to document all kinds of environmental issues. We'll be collecting different techniques and tips here -- stay tuned and pitch in where you can! We'll be starting with a focus on #timelapse photography:
Timelapse photography is a visual form of data collection that:
- is relatively cheap to collect (~$100, [see below](#Get+a+timelapse+camera))
- produces easier-to-read data: photos
- can give good visual context to a problem, compared to (or paired with) sensor data
- situates the data in a timeline
#### What environmental problems might this apply to
Timelapse photography, or photographic monitoring is a good way to document the changes in a landscape over time, or an incident you need images of when you might not be there to capture them in person such as:
- [sediment runoff](https://publiclab.org/notes/mlamadrid/06-22-2016/documenting-runoff-with-photography) in a stream from a disturbed site
- the changes in [opacity](https://publiclab.org/wiki/visual-pm) of a smoke stack or blowing off of a pile
- an explosion at a [mountaintop mining site](https://publiclab.org/notes/LauraChipley/09-18-2015/hacking-trail-cameras-to-document-blasts-on-mountaintop-removal-sites)
- activity [at sand mines](https://publiclab.org/notes/glennwalquist/12-04-2016/monitoring-sargent-sand-mining-operation-in-ludington-michigan)
![image description](https://publiclab.org/system/images/photos/000/019/621/medium/Screenshot_2017-02-23_at_4.17.53_PM.png "Screenshot_2017-02-23_at_4.17.53_PM.png")
(Above: monitoring a mountaintop removal site: [see this note](https://publiclab.org/notes/LauraChipley/09-18-2015/hacking-trail-cameras-to-document-blasts-on-mountaintop-removal-sites))
- To set up the camera, you will need access to a secure location where your site of interest can be seen.
- Depending on how often you have the camera set to take photos, you could end up with a lot of images to go through.
- There have been documented challenges in capturing images with glare (from the sun, snow and water) (see [Frequently Asked Questions](https://publiclab.org/wiki/photo-monitoring#Frequently+Asked+Questions))
#### Conversations & collaboration
* Discussions around photographic monitoring are happening on the Midwest group through a few on-going projects, as well as on publiclab.org through this page _(see the [Activities](https://publiclab.org/wiki/photo-monitoring#Timelapse+Activities), [Frequently Asked Questions](https://publiclab.org/wiki/photo-monitoring#Frequently+Asked+Questions), and [Updates](https://publiclab.org/wiki/photo-monitoring#Updates) sections below)_
Midwest group: <a href="https://groups.google.com/d/forum/publiclab-midwest">publiclab-midwest</a>
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### Get a timelapse camera
Timelapse cameras can be found at sporting goods stores and online. They are also called "trail cameras" or "game cameras."
See the [Timelapse Kit page](/wiki/timelapse) for more, and to borrow one (if available)
### Case studies
### Related techniques
Timelapse photography may also make use of a number of other techniques, such as:
* [Triggering cameras](/wiki/camera-trigger)
* [Photo sharing](/wiki/photo-sharing) - different ways to share, distribute, upload LOTS of photos online
There are also possibilities with cell-network-enabled trail cameras, though they're mostly a bit more expensive; they'd need a mobile phone plan and a SIM card to work. Many are around $400, but these (pretty poorly rated) ones were around $100:
* [E-TECHING](https://www.amazon.com/E-TECHING-Camera-Infrared-Digital-Integrated/dp/B01KX3M5XI/) - $100
* [Docooler](https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DSS7Q4I?psc=1) - $90
* [SUNLUXY](https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016ZX1478?psc=1) - $109
### Timelapse Activities
Timelapse photography is a way to automatically trigger a camera on an interval -- for example, every minute, or every hour.
Here are some posted activities related to timelapse; we're still seeking a clear guide to setting up and using a #trail-cam to do timelapses, so **please reach out if you're able to help document this**!
### Frequently Asked Questions
We're collecting and working our way through a wide array of questions about timelapse photography -- if you can contribute your own questions, or answer others', please do!
### Frac sand photographic monitoring
There's some good resources [posted on this page](https://publiclab.org/wiki/frac-sand-action-oriented-resources#Photographic+Monitoring) which are specific to water monitoring or monitoring of frac sand sites -- check it out, and we're working to open some of these ideas up into questions and activities soon.
#### About the data
**Type of data**
This method produces data in the form of images. Most cameras are also able to timestamp images.
- Some cameras also have the ability to capture GPS data.
- This monitoring method can be paired with weather monitoring stations for a richer data set.
- Sending images to the internet has been another add-on for these type of projects.
**Uses for the data**
- Government agencies often find photographic data useful evidence. [Read more about this here.](https://publiclab.org/notes/warren/11-22-2016/interview-chris-nidel-on-environmental-evidence-in-court#Photographic+evidence)
- Photographs of events or land change are useful tools in persuasion for publications, or in public comment. [Read more about this here](https://publiclab.org/notes/mlamadrid/06-22-2016/using-photographs-in-fighting-mining-companies).