Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trail Camera Photography for Wildlife and Surveillance

With my interest in photography, and always reading about what's new in gear available to shoot photos with, I became aware of trail cameras back several years ago, and thought that it would be fun to purchase one and set it up somewhere.
Several years went by before I made that happen and that was back about 6 months ago with the purchase of my first trail camera. I first set it up in my backyard to familiarize myself with it before moving it in to the field where I set it up to track the movement of wildlife through the images of wildlife captured by the camera.
After having a trail camera set up for several weeks, I quickly realized that trail cameras were perfect for doing recon work in regards to the movement of wildlife throughout the course of a 24 hour period in any given area.This works especially well when the trail camera is used in time-lapse mode.

 Being interested in wildlife photography, my trail camera proved to be a valuable tool allowing me to plan future visits to any given area with my DSLR cameras, where I would possibly set up a blind based on information gathered through the use of my trail camera.  In fact it worked so well I acquired a second trail cam that I placed in a different area from the first one.
Trail cameras may be used for more than just wildlife photography, and todays models with their invisible nightvision LEDs are perfect for night illumination, as they will not be detected when they are triggered by movement coming in to their field of view, whether its wildlife or someone trespassing on your property.

Today cellular trail cameras are available that allow you to see the photos or video captured on your smartphone, allowing you to monitor the area you set the trail camera in without having to visit your trail camera. This helps leave the area undisturbed and you will save time and money by not traveling to check the photos.
Now having said that, you still need access to cell service and the cost of the cameras is higher than your regular trail camera, something to be aware of.

This video was shot by one of my trail cameras located in Kananaskis Country along the eastern slope of the Alberta Rockies in a ravine overlooking a tiny creek and a game trail that meanders along the bottom of the ravine.
I left my truck parked a 1/2 kilometer away and hiked up to the location of this particular trail cam to check the goings on in the ravine while it has been doing recon.
 As I came in to view of the trail cam, it triggered and shot this 20 second video.
This trail cam is a Browning Special Ops 2015 model, and shoots full HD video day or night whether it be of game or for security reasons.
The camera uses non detectable black LED's for shooting video in the hours of darkness.
 It also can shoot stills and time lapse photos, and as you played the video I'm sure you noticed it records respectable sound considering the tiny microphone opening on the front of the camera.
The Browning Special Dark Ops trail cam has one of the fastest trigger times of all available trail cams with a trigger time of .67 of a second.

If you replay this video, you will see the camera start recording as soon as I enter the field of view.
This is crucial when you have wildlife step in to the field of view, as some trail cams with a slower trigger time miss the shot completely if the animal is moving fairly quickly through the field of view.
I will leave my trail cam set up in this ravine overlooking this tiny creek for a month or so, as there is sign of wildlife using the area as well as drinking water from the creek.

With the trail cams that I have out in the field doing recon on potential locations for me to photograph wildlife with my DSLR cameras, I have been on a learning curve as to what works and what doesn't when it comes to using trail cameras.
One of the things I wished for was the means to check the memory cards of my trail cameras out in the field with out swapping out cards and waiting till I got home to look at the results on my computer.
Now having said that, one of my trail cams does have a viewing screen, but it leaves a lot to be desired when looking at captures on a 2" screen.
I had been looking at trail cam viewers and was close to purchasing one when I had a eureka moment when I realized I had a trail cam viewer already, that being a Epson P3000 viewer sitting at home doing nothing.

I have owned this viewer from back in 2006 when the device was current and they were a necessary tool for photographers that wanted to back their camera memory cards while away from their computer.
I have not used my P3000 in some time as with all the other devices that have come on the market as well as larger memory cards at inexpensive prices, the P3000 is not as big a deal as it was back in 2006 and the years following.
Also the high resolution LCD screens on todays digital cameras are much better than they were back then for viewing files on the memory cards.
The P3000 has slots for both SD cards as well as CF cards, and also has USB and micro USB ports as well.
The storage capability is only 40 gigabyte although there is a hack available to turn it into a 500 gigabyte storage device by replacing the internal drive.

Still the P3000 has a very nice screen with good resolution and I have discovered that it works great for viewing my trail camera photos in the field by inserting the SD card from the trail camera into the top of the viewer and then for backing up the memory card.
The memory card can then be reinserted back into the trail camera and formatted to clear the files from memory.I guess this is called re-purposing a device that had been collecting dust on my desk at home.
The P-3000 will not play back the HD video files shot with my trail cams, but does back up the files fine for downloading to my computer once I return home.
I have found that I can move the video files to my smartphone if I wish to view the MP4 HD video generated by my trail cameras in the field.

So bottom line is I have come to enjoy my trail cameras, and highly recommend them whether it be for wildelife photography or for surveillance of your property, or just capturing photos of the birds visiting the birdbath in your backyard.

Note....All photos expand

A full HD version of the above video here....

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