Seattle / Glacier Peak WebCam
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My own webcam, which went online December 9, 2001:

The camera is located on the NE side of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, at an elevation of 102 ft (31 m) above sea level. If the camera is zoomed out, then Lake Union and Gasworks Park are visible in the foreground. On clear days, the view extends out to the Cascade Range and the most distant visible point is 10541 ft (3213 m) Glacier Peak, about 70 miles (110 km) ENE of Seattle. The camera may occasionally be zoomed in on Glacier Peak alone. See the bottom of this page for technical info about the webcam system and numerous sample images at various zooms. Also, be sure to also check out my Cascade Volcano WebCams page for views of weather conditions throughout the Cascade Range.

Half Size (320 x 240):

The camera image is currently updated every 5 minutes, all day
and night, unless maintenance or technical problems intervene.
NOTE: The Javascript which automatically refreshes the image
has been removed, you must manually refresh/reload the image.

Full Size (640 x 480):

Technical Details of the Webcam System:

The images come from a Canon ES60 Hi8 camcorder, which was pretty much the cheapest camcorder available on the market as of 2001. Its best feature is a 22X optical zoom, which allows for a much greater range of scenic possibilities than most typical webcams. This camera also has good low-light sensitivity, so that the picture during twilight often appears somewhat brighter than what the naked eye sees. The camera is mounted on a rigid aluminum angle bracket on the wall beside my living room window, and enclosed within a box made of foam-core board, in order to keep out stray light and prevent ghost images (i.e. the camera seeing the reflection of its own lens in the window). The signal from the camera goes via an S-Video cable to an old ixMicro ixTV video capture board mounted within my trusty but aging Power Macintosh G3, where the webcam software, Oculus 3.1, adds the captions and then uploads the images by FTP to this website. Over the years since 2001, the hardware and software have been upgraded a couple of times, to the current setup using the InterView USB video capture device on my Power Macintosh Dual G4 running Mac OS X and ImageCaster as the webcam software.

Sample Images:

The following examples show how the webcam image looks at varying degrees of zoom (the camera was not moved between the shots). The horizontal field-of-view (FOV) is calculated based on the actual 3.2 mm width of the so-called "1/4-inch" CCD in the camcorder, using the formula FOV = 2arctan(0.5*width/FL), where the focal length (FL) of this zoom lens varies from 3.6-79.2 mm. Remarkably, this is equivalent to a 40-890 mm zoom lens on a standard 35 mm film camera.

1x   (FOV = 48°)
2x   (FOV = 25°)
4x   (FOV = 12.7°)
<click to enlarge>

<click to enlarge> <click to enlarge>
8x   (FOV = 6.4°) 16x   (FOV = 3.2°) 22x   (FOV = 2.3°)
The Cascade Range rises in the distance above
the busy skyline of East Lake Union.
<click to enlarge>
On this day, the summit of Glacier Peak was completely
enveloped for several hours by a large lenticular cloud.
<click to enlarge>
Glacier Peak on a crisp December morning,
with the rocky spire of Sloan Peak at left.
<click to enlarge>

In addition to its impressive 22X optical zoom, the Canon ES60 also features a 700X digital zoom capability, which (when enabled) is simply applied on to the maximum optical zoom. The combined effect of these is shown in the following three images. The major flaw of digital zoom is that it increases noise and blurs the image, since it has no extra "real" pixels to work with, and this effect is easily seen in these photos. Beyond about 100X, the image of Glacier Peak blurs into a sea of foamy noise.

32x   (FOV = 1.6°)
44x   (FOV = 1.2°)
64x   (FOV = 0.8°)
<click to enlarge> <click to enlarge> <click to enlarge>

Other interesting scenes captured by the Seattle / Glacier Peak WebCam:

A typical nighttime scene on Lake Union.
<click to enlarge>
A floatplane coming in for a landing at the
Kenmore Air harbor at the south end of Lake Union.
<click to enlarge>

A huge flock of birds flies by in the distance.
<click to enlarge>

The full moon rises over Lake Union.
<click to enlarge>
A large ship, the R/V Thomas G. Thompson of the
UW School of Oceanography, heading out of Lake
Union towards the Ballard Locks and Puget Sound.
<click to enlarge>
A seagull swoops past the camera just beyond my deck
(the image of the bird is split along parallel lines
due to the interlacing of the NTSC video signal).
<click to enlarge>

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Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
All material on this website is ©1997-2004 by Amar Andalkar unless otherwise noted.
Last modified Monday, December 6, 2004