tim savas

Biological Time Lapse Photography

After building the camera actuators in this project, they were deployed to capture plant growth time lapses. The selections on this page were shot while conducting plant science research Harvard and MIT.

Visual Data Across Time

Time lapses were shot out of necessity for the growth chamber research. The Temporal Ecology Lab was studying how native woody species respond to varying spring environments. For the work, we incubated dormant plant samples inside of growth chambers simulating spring conditions, and recorded observational measurements of their growth stages according to standard rubrics in the literature.

The research was an exercise in scientific objectivity. The plant subjects' growth stages were often not as discrete as the rubrics' quantized stages. For example, the "swollen bud" and "first leaf" stages often appeared ambiguous, seeming to have unrepresented stages in between, like a missing purple between red and blue.

I shot these time lapses to collect a higher resolution visual data set than that offered by the standard practice of twice-weekly observational measurements. Each is a fuller picture of a plant's development at all points in time over the course of its lifecycle.

Aesthetic also compelled the work. I see the collective project as a demo of how computational and mechanical tool building can forward knowledge, and propel human expression in the process.

Hamamelis virginiana | f1.8 | 2 sec | ISO: 100

Syringa vulgaris | f1.2 | 2 sec | ISO: 100

Brassica oleracea var. sabellica | f4 | 3 sec | ISO: 800

Syringa chinensis | f3.2 | 2 sec | ISO: 100

Hibiscus syriacus | f2.8 | 3 sec | ISO: 200

Brassica oleracea var. italica | f2.8 | 3 sec | ISO: 100

775 670 3447 / tsavas[@]media.mit.edu