Time-lapse videos are a fantastic way to capture the passage of time, and the effect can be quite mesmerizing. But creating a time-lapse video requires that you take numerous pictures at consistent intervals. Doing that for even one day is tricky, so trying to shoot a time-lapse of a single location over the course of 30 years is an absolutely daunting undertaking. However, that’s exactly what photographer Joe DiGiovanna is doing in New York City, and he’s using an Arduino to make it happen.
DiGiovanna is already four years into this project, and has been taking a photo every 30 seconds for that entire time period — and plans to continue doing so until at least 2045. Every single day, those 2,880 photos are processed to produce a two-minute-long time-lapse video that DiGiovanna posts to his Instagram page. They’re also saved (and backed up) for later use when the project is complete, resulting in 32 terabytes worth of photos every year. Needless to say, DiGiovanna goes through a lot of hard drives.
One of the trickiest parts of DiGiovanna’s project is taking each photo at a consistent interval. To do that, he has built his own custom intervalometer using an Arduino board. That triggers the “shutter” release on a Sony A7S mirrorless DSLR camera — a camera that was chosen specifically because there are fewer moving mechanical parts to wear out. Those photos are then copied over to an Apple MacBook Pro, which has been running for 5 years straight itself. Currently, DiGiovanna is using Adobe After Effects to turn those photos into time-lapse videos with the help of some scripts. But he plans on experimenting with other software options in the future, and even hopes to expand his setup to include more cameras to show additional perspectives of the city.