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In the Garden

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Place a Time Lapse Camera in your Garden

3/8/2011 11:04:46 PM

Tags: Taylor Miller, Garden Gnome, Product Reviews, My Garden, Brinno, GardenWatchCam

T.Miller2For so many people across the country, the promise of spring is so close that it’s tempting to think that, maybe, if they stand just a little higher on their toes they’ll fall into warmer weather. I, on the other hand, conceded to old man winter and moved to south central Texas last summer—I just couldn’t stand to look out my window another day and see snow. (And boy was there a lot of that this year!) Having said that, it’s this time of the year that I’m leaning back as far as I can for the beautiful 60- and 70-degree temperatures that flavor the “winter” days of the Lone Star State.

Shortly before I left Kansas, a company called Brinno sent me their GardenWatchCam to review, a clever little weatherproof time lapse camera that’s perfect for capturing your growing garden all season long. I’m reviewing the product now because I think it’s at this time of the year (and not at the end of the summer) that the device is most exciting to think about.

The GardenWatchCam is easy to use and to install. Just plug in the included four batteries and two gigabyte USB drive, screw in the flexible mounting stake (made out of that strong thick plastic that can actually penetrate the tough Kansas clay), choose one of the seven different time setting options and aim! The GardenWatchCam will take photos for months without a battery change and comes with software for play back on your computer. The relatively low 1.3 megapixel camera does take pretty impressive photos and can be alternated between a landscape shot and a macro one (though it’s tough to tell the difference). It’s also smart enough not to take photos at night. The only real drawback to the device is that there’s no viewfinder, so it can be frustrating if you’re looking to pin down the exact right angle.

While picking up and moving your life isn’t conducive to photographing your stationary garden, I still wanted to try out this nifty gadget, so I cooked up an idea. The method I used to move was with a company called PODS. Essentially, how that process works is that the company drops off a storage container at your house and you rent it for a month. That means you move your stuff into the lockable storage container at your leisure, and when it’s packed, the company will pick it up and drop it off at your new change of venue.

When I saw that the top of the storage container was a thick transluscent plastic, sort of like a milk jug, I decided to tape the GardenWatchCam to the wall of the unit and track the contents in motion as the unit was shipped to Texas. What sounded like it was going to be a really swell idea turned out to be, well, only just a little bit cool. In the video, which I’ve posted below, you’ll see me packing the last few things into the unit.

The POD was about 8 feet tall, and unfortunately, the camera was taped too high up (it’s hard to aim when your tripod is duct tape). So while the POD doesn’t look very full—it is, trust me—packed like pickles. The camera captures the 10 or so days the unit was in transit—the heat of the summer months increasing the further south it traveled. If there’s anything to watch, it’s the hangers in the top left side of the video. Apparently one brand of hanger is not good with heat! Check it out:

So, after a more or less failed first attempt, I decided to give it a second go, this time with a Chia Pet Cat I got for Christmas. A few caveats about this video: I had the GardenWatchCam take a photo every five minutes. So for the first 1/3 of the video, the Chia Cat is covered in a ziplock plastic bag (this is to create a “greenhouse” effect to facilitate sprouting). During the two weeks the Chia Cat was being captured, the real cats in the house decided to rethink how the camera should be aimed. I can’t seem to catch a break! Skip to the 54 second mark if you want to get right to the good stuff.

So while my short films probably won’t win any Oscars, a lot of other budding photographers on the internet captured some really great images with the GardenWatchCam, check them out below.  And speaking of budding, go get the GardenWatchCam now, because spring’s here in less than a week.





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