Live "leaf peeping" / digital repeat photography

@khufkens For night time manual exposure control I’ve experimented with this LUX meter. It works great in daylight but not as well after the sun goes down. Because of that I tried a combination of the meter with sunset/sunrise timings to manually ramp the camera exposure to 15 or 20 seconds for star photos.

Here is the script I wrote. After a several month hiatus I started adding USB support last week but haven’t gotten to test it yet because I accidentally dropped my pi in the lake :frowning:

@codetricity Check out my script for gps metadata injection via gpsd and a cheap usb gps device.


Wow, there’s a lot of good information today. That’s a cool example. I think that LUX meter would be perfect for @khufkens. It’s near a research station, so I think there’s probably a little bit of ambient light.

tlapser360 looks like an awesome project. Do you have a link or the name of the GPS device that you used?

Sorry to hear about dropping the Raspberry Pi in the lake.

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@codetricity I use a Holux m-241 but here is a list of gpsd compatible devices.

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I’m ok with auto exposure during the day. But I would like to add a nighttime snapshot of the stars / moon lighting up the forest during the night. It should be possible as I did trials with the camera + phone combo. However, I couldn’t get the longer exposures (manual) exposures to work over USB. I set the values correctly but they don’t stick for some reason.

I can’t play with stuff anymore because my camera is operational :disappointed: and I don’t have a spare to develop on. If you have success using USB let me know!!

Are you changing the exposure with the API or with the official RICOH mobile app? I think you used the WiFi API for the last version.

Looking at the API, the shutterSpeed can only be set when exposureProgram is set to 1 (manual).

@codetricity You’re correct, in my previous version I set shutter speeds using the wifi api, I think both api’s require the camera being set to manual mode prior to changing the shutter speed.

@khufkens It looks like shutter speeds need to be set with ptpcam using raw mode and rational numbers. After setting the camera to manual mode…

$ ptpcam --set-property=0x500E --val=1
'Exposure Program Mode' is set to: [Automatic (P)]
Changing property value to 1 [Manual] succeeded.

And using this documentation and this post I was able to set the shutter speed via usb like this.

$ echo -e -n '\x20\x00\x00\x00\x0a\x00\x00\x00' > shutter.bin
$ ptpcam -R 0x1016,0xd00f,0,0,0,0,shutter.bin
data to send : 'shutter.bin'
--- data to send ---
20 00 00 00 0a 00 00 00                         -  .......        
Sending generic request: reqCode=0x1016, params=      [0x0000d00f,0x00000000,0x00000000,0x00000000,0x00000000]
PTP: response OK

I’m still having problems with my camera locking up. Its especially a problem with ptpcam taking “5376x2688” photos, gphoto2 seems to be more stable for me.

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I had similar problems with ptpcam. I think that one of the people that got it to work was using Ubuntu 14.04. I did my tests with Ubuntu 16.04 (worked, but not all commands) and Raspian Jesse (worked, but not all commands).

It may be stable if we replicate the same OS version that @khufkens is using. He’s had it working for 2 weeks.

It’s up for a month now. No issues. I’m running the previous version of Raspbian, Wheezy, on the pi which is controlling the camera.

I’ll try some more with Jesse and a new camera I got for development.


Koen Hufkens fame now extends to engadget public access.

Thanks, and thank god (or your favourite deity) that I went out today to fix my outage. The power went out and the network as well. The pi rebooted but I had to drive out to push the switch on the camera. Most expensive push of a button ever.

Sadly I could have asked people at the research forest but I thought it was more dire (branch fall etc) given that the network was out (which of course I should have inquired for, as it was not only my pi but the whole network, before driving out). Anyway, it’s up and running again.

Do you have an idea on how the switch is connected. I’m considering wiring it to the pi to be able to boot it from afar? I guess I will have to buy another camera to rip apart aside from my software development one. Got to find some sponsors as this is becoming rather expensive.

I have not heard of anyone doing this. I’ll ask @jcasman to add this question to the agenda for the meeting we have with THETA product manager. I don’t think RICOH will be able to provide information on how to do this, but it might be possible to add as a feature in the future. If we can’t restart the camera remotely, it makes it difficult to use both in remote archival/analysis scenarios like you have as well as surveillance scenarios.

@khufkens I spoke to the RICOH product manager for the THETA and although he doesn’t have an answer right now, he’s seen this on feature working in a demo. I now remember that I have actually seen this feature work as well. It was using some special equipment attached to the USB port of the camera. He’s going to ask his colleague in Tokyo if this can be enabled by developers like yourself that need to turn the camera on remotely.

No immediate solution right now, but there’s a possibility that we may be able to access a special command over the USB cable at some point in the future. The camera may support it right now without any modification. If I find the solution, I will send you the info.

Thanks Craig (@codetricity), I appreciate you asking around about this. I figure that it’s probably some particular signal you have to feed to the usb port (similar to e.g. PoE when voltage needs to be determined / negotiated). Or that’s how I would do it. Shoot me a message if you would find some info.

@squizard360 Thanks for the long exposure settings. It works on my development camera, so I’m going to try to get some supermoon action tonight (hopefully not messing things up).


Hope that you can grab some super moon imagery. Trying some myself but don’t have a good spot to leave it going all night.

Overcast :frowning: bummer…

But at least I know I can capture some night imagery if needed. Will play some more to get to optimal settings.

With the change of the leaf color, it’s an exciting time for leaf peeping.

How often is the image on virtualforest updated? I think you mentioned that the camera is set to trigger every 15 minutes?

Also, are you using the leaf images for any type of environmental analysis? I would love to hear more about the science aspects of the project in addition to the photography. :slight_smile:

The camera takes images every 5 minutes, when the leaves are gone I’m going to every half hour or so.

This is my normal research:

The “greenness” signal [green / (red + green + blue) ] of these cameras is used in my research, figuring what the relation is between climate and weather and vegetation development.

My latest research was on grassland growth, using camera data.


@khufkens, thank you. My son is a senior in high school and considering pursuing biology. Like you, he can program and likes digital media like photos and videos. He also implemented a network power monitoring and alert system at Stanford (employee not student) last summer using many Raspberry Pi units and either USB or GPIO connected to the equipment. I told him that I think biology is a good major since there’s an opportunity to do data analysis and visualization. He’s used AngularJS and various chart libraries as well. He’s not applying to Stanford as he thinks it’s too hard as a student, but he does part-time work for the EE department in the summers. I’m sharing your info with him to inspire him.

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Sure, I hope my research can inspire your son.