About the Monticello WeatherCam
The weathercam is an Olympus C-5050Zoom 5.1 megapixel camera. The most distinguishing feature of this camera for its use as a webcam is its Super-bright, F1.8, 3x optical zoom lens. This lens enables the camera to capture images in extremely low-light conditions. The camera is mounted in the window of a second-story bedroom and is pointed south-southeast (approximately 140 degrees). The bedroom is rarely used so artificial light does not typically interfere with operation of the camera. Bright sunshine does sometimes cause glare on the window, which is captured by the camera (this is mostly a problem in the winter, when in northern Maine the sun is in the south and low on the horizon).
The weathercam is controlled by an older model dedicated laptop computer running the extremely powerful VM95 software written by Erdman Video Systems. This software captures pictures from the camera at 1-minute intervals between dawn and dusk. Two very powerful features of VM95 are its ability to automatically increase the exposure time up to 16 seconds to capture images in low-light conditions, and its ability to evaluate the brightness of each image, enabling the user to determine if images should be archived or discarded. I have configured VM95 to only archive images with an average brightness of 20 or greater, thereby eliminating the archiving of photos that are too dark for viewing.
Subsequent to capturing the photos with VM95 at resolution of 2560 X 1920 (approximately 2.5 mb), WatchDirectory is used to automatically create thumbnail images with a resolution of 1024 X 768 and an optimized size of approximately 65 kb. (VM95 has the capability to create thumbnail images, but with a 1-minute capture interval and 16-second exposures, it is difficult to maintain the 1-minute interval if VM95 is creating the thumbnails).
ImageSalsa is utilized to overlay current weather conditions (captured from my weatherstation by WxSolution at one minute intervals) onto the photos. ImageSalsa then FTP's the photos to the WeatherCam website.
MovieSalsa is utilized to create the following time-lapse sequences once per hour between dawn and dusk:
The scenery that the camera is capturing is that of former farms fields that were once utilized for growing potatoes, grain, and other cold-weather crops throughout the first-half of the twentieth century. In the 1970's and 1980's, the fields were utilized as cattle pasture. In 2006, I planted a few plum trees, which are visible in the southeast (top left) corner of the photo. The native vegetation that is visible is typical of a northern Maine early to mid-successional ecosystem that is transitioning from open fields to forest. The predominate trees are white spruce, balsam fir, quaking aspen (poplar), white ash, and wild apple trees. The herbaceous vegetation is predominately goldenrod, and a few other wildflowers. This mix of fields, thickets, and trees provides important habitat for many animals and birds, and deer, moose, and bear utilize the area extensively for food and shelter. Also visible in the photo is my weatherstation equipment, including the anemometer mounted on a pole (measures wind-speed and direction), and the integrated sensor suite, that measures temperature, humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, and ultraviolet (UV) light.