Way Up There All The Little Things Matter

As more construction time lapse projects come into my office that require long term self-contained self-powered systems, it became imperative
to develop a check list to ensure that camera controls, intervalometer settings, power set-ups and connections are appropriately set so I can sleep at night.
And by association you’ll sleep better too. A checklist takes on more importance the higher up and less accessible the installation location is.
To wit: The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project currently under way at the Port of Long Beach, (POLB) is the type of assignment I’m talking about here…

That's my little baby  up yonder

That’s my little baby up yonder

That's my baby's sibling

That’s my baby’s sibling

Top of the world ma!

Top of the world ma!


When my systems are installed as high as they are here and have to be secured as pictured, I don’t worry about forgetting to set something. And neither should you, my trusted client.

Yes I know it’s common sense to make a check list but if I had any, I wouldn’t be a pro photographer…hah!

Here’s the list I’ve developed over the course of the past six months:

After I secure the platform which has been custom designed and fabricated, (my tribute to Rube Goldberg) the camera housing is attached to the platform.

Now before I arrive on site, the camera, lens, timer, power source, media card and cables have been placed inside the weather-resistant housing. All camera controls have been set, fresh batteries have been installed in the timer, the li-on power source for the camera has been charged, the timer programmed, cable connections double-checked, media card formatted, dust cleaned off the lens and the camera has been locked down at the optimum spot for the focal length of the lens attached.


And I check it all again after it’s attached to the platform.


So you and I can sleep at night and preserve the mutual trust we’ve established.

So I go through and make sure the platform is securely attached, that all mounting hardware, (straps, cable ties, bolts/nuts/washers and ratcheted tie downs) are properly and safely in place. As you can see by the photograph, I have redundancy in how I secure the platform. Safety first! I am OSHA certified in General Industry. I’m trying to be as professional as can be for your peace of mind. And mine.

I bring a set of tools with me for on-site modifications if necessary: drill, bits, extra bolts, nuts, washers, cable ties, hammer, knife, screwdrivers, wrenches and ratchets.

The housing is opened and the second camera check is performed: ISO rating, metering mode, exposure mode, f/stop, zoom setting, manual focus, picture mode and lastly I tape down the lens so it doesn’t shift from the inevitable ground vibrations that make their way up the pole from all the heavy equipment operating below. Trust me, it happens.

The power and timer are turned on. I let the system run through 3-5 cycles to see how it’s all operating.

Once I’m sure, the media card is reformatted, the cable connections are checked again and the whole thing is closed up.

The front of the housing has an opening cut in it and a very special (and expensive water-repelling filter) has been securely installed. It is cleaned…again.

The solar panel connections are oh so vital at this stage for its’ the solar panel that recharges the li-on battery that powers the camera itself. In bright sun a 5 volt panel is sufficient. The battery is rated to run about 5 days on a full charge so even if the weather is poor, the system will still run. Up to a point. I wish I could control the weather but I cannot.

Once I come down in the bucket truck, we’re good to go and all of us get really excited to see what the end result is.

It’s very exciting ain’t it?



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    Michael E. Stern
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