What's new
TerraForums Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Drosera and more talk

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

My Biolapse Thread.

Hello Folks!

My name is Chris, and I am a timelapse photographer. Rather than going for the iconic tortured tree in front of a starfield my interests have turned towards plants and studio work.

I wanted to start this thread to document my progress, and hopefully get some tips on how to get the most from these plants. I already have a thread in "Introduce yourself" but i wanted to move this discussion to a better place.

I call this sort of work Biolapse, it really is remarkable how plants behave on different timescales than what we observe. They grow, react to threats, attack, and almost seem to breath. I imagine the world would be far different if we worked on the same timescale as plants do, and one of my goals is to bring those timescales together. My next goal is to present the plants in a natural looking surrounding.

I have been a fan of carniverous plants a long time, but living in colorado they can be tough to grow. My first and second attempts resulted in killing the plants. Im trying to break that habit with the third.

Attempt 1, used tap water in my humidifer which uses a 5 head pond mister to create the fog. I learned on these forums that even the fog needs to be made from distilled water.

here is the resulting video.

Attempt 2, I moved the flytrap to a nicer looking pot with a 50/50 sphagnum/pete mix. I think that the pete may have had some fertilizer, it killed the plant within a few days. Also, the humidity was low when i started. I think hat may have hurt too.

I did not even bother to stitch that video together, it was a flop in many ways, including the motion i introduced.

I am now on my third attempt. I have it in the same pot, with the same sphagnum that it has been living in for the last 3 weeks. I simply setup the set, and surrounded the pot with some more sphagnum. Also, i got the humidity to 70% and the room is 72 degrees. The main grow light will run on cycles, but the studio lighting remains on the entire time.

I am currently running 12 minute intervals between images, and using one of my Chronos Lite rails to introduce linear movement. it will move approx 3 inches in about 400 frames. This should be about 80 hours worth of shooting. If the plant makes it through i will put it back in its terrarium in my office.

I am also trying to hoard some old aquariums from co workers so i can pick up a variety of plants, bring them to colorado, get them growing and healthy, then transplant them to the set.
Last edited:
Here are some behind the scenes photos of the set. I just started the system this morning, so hopefully things go well.

You can see the goal here, i want this to look like it is done outdoors, and not in a studio.

I built the backdrop using cardboard, aquarium foam, and a couple pieces of wood.

Once the foam was done, i covered it in black caulk, then dumped about 3 gallons of Coconut fibers with some dry sphagnum moss mixed in to give it a nice earthy appearance.

Final touches include some cheap fake moss i got at walmart. I dont think any of this should be toxic, it will not touch the plant at all so i assume it should be safe.

Here are a couple images of the set. You can see the Chonos Lite rail in front with the camera. The plant is sitting in a small tupperware bowl, and i covered the foreground with sphagnum.

Another image of the set. You can see my home made humidifier blowing mist into the shooting area. That fogger shuts off 3 minutes before it takes an image to prevent fog from being in the scene.

I am shooting with a Fuji XE-1 with a modified battery that i gutted and fit with a voltage regulator so i could plug it into the wall.

This is just a test setup. the background is pretty basic, i wanted a practice piece that i could play with first. Honestly, it surpassed my expectations. The next set i plan to build will have three sides to it. The shooting area will probably be sphagnum base with multiple cups hooked up to an irrigation system, this way i can introduce a variety of plants.


And this is how the plant and set should look.
Last edited:
That is pretty awesome. I have to say--you're onto a very neat idea.

One thing I think your concept may apply to really well is plant stress. And not just on CPs. For example... what are the observable physiological effects from things like:
salt stress
drought stress
specific nutrient deficiencies/toxicities
heavy metal toxicity
plant hormone application (jasmonic acid, gibberelic acid, abscissic acid, auxins, cytokinins, etc.)
comparison of different environmental variables (temperature, light intensity, etc.)--for example, have 2 identical plants filmed in two growing conditions and see if/how they develop differently

If you fine-tune your method and get really good at growing the plants I can see serious implications of your concept to biological/horticultural/scientific research.
Nice setup! The Dionaea looks really natural in the setting that you built around it, and the blue background is beautiful. The high humidity will help if you decide to get other genera, such as Drosera.
I agree with Kevin (plantman). Once you attain some skill in growing the plants in general there are some science study applications you will be able to make with your work.

Neat set-up, too.
This is really cool. I'm looking forward to seeing progress in this project. Please, keep us updated!
I'm hoping to do this someday. I would say a nepenthes pitcher forming from a bud is the perfect timelapse project, if carnivorous plants are what you're into. A nepenthes would fare better with indoor lighting and less-than-ideal water or media.
Thank you everyone.

Im still working out some kinks, for some reason my camera grabbed an extra 5 frames here and there, but here are the results of this capture. My focus eems to be off, or it i right through the middle of the plant. i shot at f/2.8, i may have to go to f/4 for a little more DOF

SO far so good, the plant did not do a lot, i am going to bring the lights closer and go for a tighter shot, this time i plan to shoot for a full week with 15min intervals instead of 12min intervals for 4 days.

The motion looks good, but i think i had my white balance on auto, it seems to bounce a little bit.

ill look into those pitcher plants, i have a sundew on its way and im gathering some tanks to start some terrariums so i can get the plants nice and healthy before the stress of shooting.
In fact.... I am going to give the plant a few days to rest with some real sunlight and darkness. I can pick up the shooting again in a few days.
  • #10
It looked like the plants were slowly moving, and the long-fibered sphagnum seemed to be moving as well. Pretty short but interesting.
  • #11
I wonder if the light output is just not enough.
I may have to get another light to add to it.
  • #13
These are fantastic! More please! P.S. That tip about the tap water in the fog is good to know, since that's what I've been using. However, here in Bozeman we're just a little bit over the total dissolved solids threshold where I would probably be okay watering with it, but why take the chance? My plants seem to be doing fine regardless. Anyways, cool vids. They're beautiful.
  • #14
Thank you!

Right now my Flytrap is recovering from its last shoot, with a new Sundew room mate in the terrarium. I also have a red venus fly trap that should be here soon with some better lighting equipment. I dont think the lights were quite enough as it really did not grow much.

in the meantime I'm filming some other plants i have for fun, and i am going to start working on a bigger/better set.
  • #15
You should look into getting some Nepenthes for filming when the flytraps are dormant. They will also fare better inside under lights, and will not require as much light as the flytraps will. They are also bigger and are very good candidates for time lapse photography.
  • #16
Thank you Bio. I am building a new set right now and hoping to get some Nepenthes for a 2nd tier, i would like to get the entire formation of one of the Pitchers. :)

In the meantime, i wrapped up a week of filming these plants. Not carnivorous, but it turned out pretty darn well.

More information on my blog site which i recently re-structured. the last version was made with Adobe Muse and a serious pain to update and modify. I opted for a simple wordpress theme. Far easier, which means more updates blog updates. :)
  • #17
I am FINALLY finished filming. 3 months of filming these little guys virtually non stop with 2 cameras. 80gb of images, and some video footage. Looks like i will be busy. Here are a couple frames from the timelapse sequences.




It will probably be another 2 to 3 weeks of processing the timelapses and turning them into the final film. I will be sure to put them on the website.

I have learned a lot, but one thing i feel i have confirmed is you CAN grow these quite well with artifical light. I am using a cheap Dirt Genius and the plants love it! lots of nice dark crimson colors coming through. The only problem with the LED grow light is the bright pink color it emits. SO it is great for a grow room, but terrible if you actually want to look at the plants.

I have updated the Biolapse.com site with lots of information on how i have been growing and caring for them, but for the most part I keep the plants in slotted trays (similar to what you would put pencils and stuff in with a junk drawer) and I sit those in a larger low level tray which i fill with water, its easy to keep consistent water levels this way, but i was still checking them every day.

A few times i had to take the plants out cause some bugs started living in the moss. Give the a C02 bath and that does a good job of decimating the bug population, but only as a wuick 2-3 week fix. the bug come back.

Either way, i am finally done filming this project. Looking forward to the next. Thank you everyone for all your input, tips, suggestions, and for kicking me out of the idea that the plants needed to be in terrariums ;)
  • #18
I cant wait for the video to be done!