Sunday, November 16, 2008

Monarch Butterfly Emergence Time-Lapse Video

Exciting news! I've completed my first time-lapse video! While in retrospect I believe I could've done a better job, I must say that this video turned out rather good considering it's my first one. This video, or rather, the capturing of the images, is what has kept me busy since the last posting.

About a month ago, shortly after my last post, Gena, Anthony, and I visited the home of my friend and collegue, Kevin. Kevin is a great guy with many interests, one of which is raising and keeping butterflies. His butterfly sanctuary is unlike anything I have ever seen before -- it's completely out in the open without any nets or cages to keep the butterflies in! His backyard is filled with a plethora of host plants strategically planted to attract a variety of butterflies. The butterflies, when passing by his property, see the sources of food growing there and the protection offered by the various plants, that they decide to make Kevin's backyard their home. It's really quite impressive and must be experienced by everyone!

A few days after our visit, Kevin gave Anthony two Monarch chrysalises (or chrysalides) to watch and learn about butterflies. Both butterflies emerged after a few days and, while I wanted to photograph the emergence of at least one of them, I completely missed it... by about an hour. Kevin then gave Anthony two more chrysalises and, again, I missed the emergence of the first one by only a few minutes. I had woken up early the morning of the emergence (one can tell when the butterfly is ready to emerge) and set the camera up to record the event. After returning from a quick restroom break, the butterfly had already emerged -- AAAARGH! Missed it agiain!

Exactly one week later, the second butterfly was ready to emerge and, once again, I woke up early to get everything set up to capture the momentous event. SUCCESS! Oh, sweet victory! I finally managed to capture the entire event! I had my intervalometer set to capture an image every two seconds, had the camera set to manual focus, Aperture Priority, and Auto White Balance (because of the quickly varying color temperature of the morning sun). Why did I select a delay of two seconds? My intention was to create an approximately 30-second video at 24 fps (frames per second). The emergence event takes about 10-15 minutes, so my calculations gave me a delay of two seconds (and nearly 700 frames!). I didn't expect the butterfly to move around that much, so that kinda explains the choppy video. My next attempt will be to create a smoother video which would require 1-second delays between exposures and twice as many frames!

So, without any further adieu, check out the video below!

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