The McGlynn Turbine at Sunset

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Finally the weather and my schedule allowed me to run a time-lapse near sunset. I was hoping this would allow a nice “natural” fade and get some interesting color effects on the turbine blades, but the weather was not ideal for the style I was working with before. Clear skies means the polarizer turns the sky deep blue and the turbine stays fully illuminated as the sun nears the horizon. Hazy, partly-cloudy skies means the sky stays light blue and the illumination varies widely. However, there’s a gamut of backgrounds for the blurred turbine blades to present against, there’s a whole host of different colors appearing in the sky and the turbine, and the boiling of the clouds provides a lovely physical force for the turbine to be pushing against. I’m happy with the outcome, although a small glitch made the camera eat six frames close to the ending. The abrupt jump was too jarring, so I papered over it with some Photoshop blending. It’s not pretty, but it’ll do. I may simply edit another version of the video to stop just before the cut, but I’m presenting it warts and all here, because the fadeout is too nice to waste.

The Original Pair of Turbine Time Lapse Videos

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

I realized I hadn’t posted these anywhere, so I put them up on Vimeo and am posting there here. In July of 2010 I borrowed a video camera and got footage of various turbines around Boston, including the Northwind 100 at McGlynn Elementary. For that one in particular, I managed to get a full hour of straight footage and dumped it to iMovie. The idea of a time-lapse version only came a while later.

For the “straight” time-lapse, I had to grab every 30th frame and save it off. I wasn’t really able to work with HD-sized files on my ancient PowerMac, so I saved them down to around 480 x 720 to reduce workload. But it still worked pretty well, except for a slight bobble about halfway through:

I also did a 60x version, which I didn’t like as much, so I haven’t uploaded it. To tweak the concept a little, I also did a blurred version of the video. Instead of selecting every thirtieth frame from the video, I merged consecutive thirty-frame blocks into a single frame, blending the image and reproducing the 30x time-lapse in a different way:

Sometimes The Turbine Just Stops

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

I went with everything ready, batteries charged, sensor cleaned, and got some good footage… until the wind died and the turbine stopped. I only included a minute’s worth of still turbine frames at the end, but it was more like half an hour before I decided to quit while I was ahead. Alas, I didn’t make it til sunset, again.

And here’s the composite image:

Another Slow-Shutter Time-Lapse

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Here’s another time-lapse of the McGlynn turbine, again shot near sunset, and again, the battery died before the sun could actually set. I’ll use the double battery pack tomorrow to make sure that doesn’t happen again. To keep the shutter speed slow while preventing over-exposure, I invested in a neutral-density filter and a polarizer. (The polarizer is why the sky looks such a deep blue here.) It looks like I should invest in a sensor-cleaning as well, since there’s a giant black dust spot in all the frames. But I’m still pretty happy with this video.

And here’s a composite image of all the frames I took, with the dust speck removed:

Three-Hour Turbine Time-Lapse

Time-Lapse, Wind Turbines

Recorded this today from 11:05 am to 2:00 pm. We’re getting a nice progression of light, which is what I’m going for. I wanted a little softer feel than before, so I set the camera to shoot at 1/40 second to blur the blades a little. After watching the results I think I might have to sharpen it up a bit, so maybe 1/60 or 1/80 will work better.

And since all the images are basic jpgs, I was able to get a composite of all 10,674 of them:

The blades and most of the nacelle completely vanish, except for a vague white streak running at an angle away from the pole.