Juno: Blizzard of 2015 Time-Lapse

The Blizzard of 2015 hit Southern New England on January 26th, 2015 and stuck around through the night of January 27th. This time-lapse contains 2,733 photos taken during the blizzard, spanning a time-frame of over 26 hours.


This setup for this time-lapse was similar to my previous timelapses.

I began to set up my equipment on January 26th around 4:00pm. I built a makeshift barricade around my camera rig using plywood, bungee cords, a glass table, and the side of my house. I had to make sure that the rig was going to be secure because the forecast called for 55-65mph winds throughout the storm.

I used plastic bags wrapped around the cameras to keep them safe from the elements, like I’ve done in the past. However, this time I didn’t have to use hand warmers to keep the moisture off of the lenses. I finished building a DIY lens heater the weekend before the blizzard and this would be its first true test.

By 5:00pm, everything was set up and I started the time-lapse.

The Lens Heater

I have to say that the lens heater worked flawlessly. At times, the temperatures outside were in the teens, the wind was gusting well into the 40+mph range, and snow was blowing around like crazy. During the storm, the moisture build-up on the lens was minimal because of the heater.

Here’s a quick summary on how the lens heater works: The heating element is made up of resistors wired in series. The controller that regulates power to the heating element is made up of a few different components, but the heart of the circuit is a 555-timer and a Darlington Transistor.

The circuit is pulse-width modulated (PWM) thanks to the timer and transistor, and there’s a potentiometer (a variable resistor) where you can control the amount of power sent to the heating element at any given time.

I’ll be writing an in-depth tutorial in the coming weeks to explain how I built the lens heater and controller, but for now, back to the time-lapse.

The Time-Lapse

My original goal for this time-lapse was to try to pan the photos from right to left as the storm went on. In post-production, I found out that’s nearly impossible with just a tripod, and aligning the sets of photos took a considerable amount of time.

After processing the photos, I had 8 different sets that I considered usable for the time-lapse. The number of photos in these sets ranged from 67 photos in the shortest set to 600 photos in the longest set. I would have had 9 sets of photos in total, but I had the wrong ISO value set on my dad’s camera during the second set. Unfortunately those photos were completely over-exposed and I couldn’t use them.

I had to get rid of about 650 photos in post-production that were either over-exposed, under-exposed, improperly focused, or misaligned. The total number of photos that I took during the storm was 3,385, but the total number of photos in the time-lapse is only 2,733. Taking that many photos proved to be a challenge at times.

It was downright frigid during the blizzard. It was very tricky to make sure that the settings and focus on the cameras was correct. At times, I felt as if my hands were going to fall off because they were so cold.

In the end, I am happy with the way that this time-lapse came out. When all was said and done, I was amazed at how much snow had piled up. I also think it’s fascinating to see the water droplets on the camera “evolve” throughout the time-lapse due to the wind and the lens heater.

Let me know what you think about this, or my other time-lapses, in the comments below!

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