Picture Post Taking Pictures

Each time you take photographs at a Picture Post, you will want to take 9 photos - 8 of the landscape and 1 of the sky. (If for some reason you don't get all 9 photos, you can still upload as many as you have on the website).
Created by John Pickle, DEW Educator, Arlington, MA


  • If you have a zoom lens, make sure camera is set to the widest angle lens setting.
  • Consistently align a feature of your camera to a corner or marking on the octagon.
  • To check your camera’s date and time settings, take a picture of a watch.
  • If you are taking pictures from more than one post, include the post information in the picture.
  • For the first photo, place the back of the camera against the octagon so the camera is facing North.
  • Continue taking photos in a clockwise order. You will be able to arrange your photographs in the correct views when you upload them. A set of reference pictures taken at the post will help you place your pictures in case you forget the direction each picture was taken at.
  • Shoot the last photo with the camera on its back and the lens pointing skyward. Be sure that you place the camera the same way each time, say set the back of the camera against the north face of the octagon, and you will get "UP" pictures that you can put together into a time series or movie, just like the other 8 pictures.

How Often To Take Pictures?

  • To study the seasonal plant cycles, at least once a day during spring "green up" and during autumn "green down".
  • During the remainder of the year, take pictures once a week unless there is an event of interest that you want to capture more often.
  • If possible, try to take photographs around the same time each day - this standardizes sky conditions for later analysis.
  • Coordinate with a group of photographers during the busy weeks.

taking a photo of a watch to verify date and time

how to align your camera on the post top

camera facing up to take sky photo