Live "leaf peeping" / digital repeat photography


@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.


Sure, I hope my research can inspire your son.


I showed my son some of your work and he immediately saw the connection between some of his work at Stanford and possible real-world applications for data aggregation and analysis using devices like the Raspberry Pi. In his application, he used the Raspberry Pi to collect data and send triggers to a central server. He’s currently studying college level environmental science and biology. I think those might be his favorite classes.

I’m curious as to the skillset of the typical biologist. You can obviously program and work with electronic components. Is this an edge that you have over typical biologists that you can use to pursue interesting research? Or, is this the baseline skillset for biologists now days?


Ecologists in general work with small data and although programming and statistics is a standard tool, electronics, sensor networks and big data analysis isn’t.

Focus on the these three latter, as these are marketable skills outside academia as well. A standard ecology degree doesn’t get you that far. He should look into environmental engineering if he wants an advanced degree that would give more flexibility.

I would also say, take anything that is mathematically / physics heavy. These are head skills to master independently (self study), but rather important. I regret not having more physics / math in my college days. The EU has a fixed track system so little I could do about it (unless completely changing to physics or math).


@khufkens thank you for your valuable feedback. We explained the situation to the RICOH THETA product manager. He escalated this up to the top-level executive in charge of the THETA business group. Unfortunately, they cannot release the software required to power on the camera with the USB API at the current time.

The demo I saw used a camera with a custom firmware that extended the Media Transfer Protocol to turn on the camera. Currently the standard MTP specification supports PowerDown (0x1013), but not PowerOn. Due to requirements for quality and security control, RICOH is unable to release customized firmware.

The product manager submitted this feature request to the USB API team. At this stage, it is only a feature submission, not a commitment to implement the feature.

I believe that the product manager wants to work with developers like yourself to improve the camera and appreciates the feedback and your work on the camera.

Sorry that there is no solution to your problem at the current time.


Thanks for asking around. I’ll have to wait, but it’s good you could drop them a line on this issue. It’s also encouraging that they have this feature in some of the development versions. This means that this could be resolved quickly as Ricoh has always been rather responsive to community requests.

I hope my application and others (doing remote monitoring if you will) shows that there is a need for a certain low level control on the power cycle. Especially if you have to drive for an hour just to push a button :slight_smile: