Some projects I am working on require flower blossom time-lapse related to the local area, South East Asia. The idea dates back to before my work, Monsoon Cambodia, featuring water lilies opening in the final scene. Realising I needed a controlled environment, my first attempt was trailed in April 2018 with a water lily.
Thinks have progressed significantly. I still have a compact fluorescent bulb for the fill light. This is controlled via an Arduino board which also switches an led grow light and gives signals to two cameras and one for motion control gear. My first led grow lamp was a cheap 100w unit from China which did not give enough to help plants along. I now have a second unit, unbranded 600w LED grow-lamp purchased mainly due to it’s availability here in Cambodia.
The control gear, Dynamic Perception NMX linked to a simple slider / pan tilt, will be used for small movements. First trials were a disaster due to the inability to upgrade the unit’s firmware (i do not use the kit often). The issue with my NMX controller has been fixed, Jay at DP kindly offered a free factory reset. I am waiting for the NMX to be returned, hidden somewhere in the postal system.
The biggest step forwards has been isolating the kit from daily activities. Previously the gear was in my bedroom where the windows were blanked out for controlled lighting. Now that I have stopped using this room for general living purposed, problems like leaving the door open, unintentionally kicking tripods or touching plants have now been eliminated. This gives me better results and less post processing. I am still getting some flicker, that may be due to fluctuation in current. One other significant improvement is the use of a UPS. Living here in Cambodia, power outages are common, usually only for a short period. This unit has saved my bacon on many trials, switching in most days during power outages.
An up and coming issues may well be the climate here in South East Asia. We are now entering hot season where temperatures can reach over 40 degrees. My room is essentially a concrete box which holds heat. The plant life in and around the the Angkor temple complex often thrives in shady cooler areas. I think this will be an issue, time will tell.
Other improvements, with a bigger working space gives me more ability to set a scene and I am also starting to pay more attention to lighting. I have had two cameras running continuously for over a week from one after market power supply, fingers crossed this is reliable. On the down side I am getting hot pixels, something easily fixed in post, but a tedious task.
I now know the plant I trailed back in June 2018 do not respond well to transplanting. They are now growing well from seed at home. Hopefully I will see flowers emerge within a month, and the NMX controller will arrive in good time. All this initially just for two shots, but the possibilities are endless.
Peace flower from Darren Wilch on Vimeo.
Check out my DIY motion kit here!