Welcome Anonymous
Fledgling
Fledgling
It is currently Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am

All times are



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ Array ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:19 pm 
Offline
Gentoo
Gentoo
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:54 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Colorado
I've been trying to photograph flying squirrels for a couple of years now in a place where there aren't many flying squirrels and is also a royal pain in the ass to get to because it is in the middle of nowhere on a crappy road that you can only drive about 3 months out of the year. Why I would engage in this behavior is more a question for a psychologist, but if this contraption is any indication, I have reached a certain point of desperation.

I really want that classic shot of a flying squirrel swooping in for a landing, like Alexander Badyaev has been rocking. His shots aren't camera trapped, he actually intercepts them during their routines paths, which he observes and records night after night.

I haven't had any luck with this approach, primarily because I have yet to actually see or hear a flying squirrel at my site in almost two years. I did at least capture some on trail cameras, and even though they do not show up reliably, I can identify one particular spot that is getting repeat traffic.

So the squirrels like to land on a stump, and from the stump they launch to a nearby tree.

To get a photo of a critter flying through the air at night, like a bat, or an owl, or a flying squirrel, you can use a technique where you basically keep the shutter open all of the time, and only fire the flashes when your infrared beam is tripped. It's the same idea for photographing things like bullets in flight. It takes too long for a camera's shutter to open, so your bat or squirrel or bullet is long gone by the time the mechanism does its thing. So you keep the shutter open by continuously taking ten second exposures in the dark, and then if and when something flies through, the flash provides the light to make the exposure and freeze the action.

This sucks for camera trapping for a couple of reasons. One, high speed triggers, like the RangeIR that I use, are power hungry. You'd need a pretty substantial battery just to keep one going for a week. The even bigger problem is that you can't leave a camera out taking continuous photos every ten seconds - you'll fill up your memory card in a few hours, at best. So what do you do when your subject only appears once every 30 days or more?

I started by putting a pointing one of Fireman Jim's PIR sensors at the place that I thought the squirrel would take off from. The PIR had a day/night sensor built into it, so I could eliminate false triggers during the day time. I then wired the PIR up to a CowboyStudios transmitter.

Next, I put out my RangeIR, pointing straight up into the air, so that when the flying squirrel launched from the stump towards the tree, it would break the beam. I had to build a waterproof case for the RangeIR using a small Pelican case. Inside the case, I mounted a second CowboyStudios transmitter, set to a different frequency, that would fire the flashes when the beam was broken. Finally, I put some homemade dowel battery eliminators inside the RangeIR so that I could power it and turn it on/off remotely (more on that in a second).

Now, for the mothership. The camera housing is a Pelican case big enough for a 200 mm lens, although I ended up shooting at more like 85 mm. It also needed to be big enough for all of the guts. I put an PIC AXE board in there, powered with a bunch of AA batteries, and set up with a Cowboy Studios flash trigger that would receive input from the PIR.

When the PIR detects movement, the PIC AXE says "time for action" and turns on the RangeIR via a relay switch. It also sends a trigger signal to the flashes on the second frequency, so that the SB-28s are out of standby for the next signal. Finally, the PIC AXE is wired to the shutter on the camera, so it starts taking 10 second photos.

If things go well, the squirrel launches off the stump, breaks the beam, trips the flashes, and I get the shot. If nothing happens, the PIC AXE takes about 10 photos over 90 seconds, and everything goes back to sleep.

So far, I have captured ZERO flying squirrels with this rig. Last year all I got was this dumb elk who happened to wander through and create just the right sequence of events to get its picture taken.

TLDR: flying squirrels are really rare in Colorado and this guy built a crazy contraption and photographed an elk


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:24 pm 
Offline
Gentoo
Gentoo
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:54 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Colorado
The fruits of my labor


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:57 am 
Offline
Fledgling
Fledgling
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:22 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Massachusetts
That's awesome. Great setup and creative thinking.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:57 am 
Offline
Emperor
Emperor
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:33 am
Posts: 2086
Location: Northcentral PA
That's a creative setup you have there, hopefully the little critters will cooperate.

Back in the fall of 2016 I got an abundance of photos of flying squirrels from a ground level set using a Sony S40, a few are posted here: https://forestandfield.blogspot.com/201 ... -ones.html This year a set at the same place has yet to yield one photo of a flying squirrel. There's no discernible change in the habitat (at least to a human) but the flying squirrels apparently aren't there.

_________________
http://forestandfield.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:45 am 
Offline
Emperor
Emperor

Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:20 pm
Posts: 1019
THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!

_________________
http://www.flickr.com/photos/j-armstrong/


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:53 am 
Offline
Emperor
Emperor

Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:20 pm
Posts: 1019
Quick thought -- I love the PIR/beam break combo! I wonder if the lag in the radio might be an issue -- I have a Fuji X100t and it can only sync with most RF triggers up to like 1/320 cause there is a slight lag, but can go to like 1/2000 on wired sync, analogously, I wonder if delay in radio signal might allow squirrel to drift past the beam a little before flash pops.

_________________
http://www.flickr.com/photos/j-armstrong/


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:16 am 
Offline
Gentoo
Gentoo
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:54 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Colorado
I think it is plenty fast - I've used the Cowboy Studios triggers for bats in flight. Sync speed isn't an issue with this setup, because the shutter on the camera is already open.
My main issue is that I haven't been able to get my subject to show up, as confirmed by a trail camera watching the set for activity. One way or another I'm going to make it happen this summer!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:17 am 
Offline
Gentoo
Gentoo
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:54 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Colorado
Woody - nice shots! I wish I'd set more cameras to try to capture ground activity instead of swinging for the fences. Next season!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:27 am 
Offline
Emperor
Emperor
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:33 pm
Posts: 3144
Location: Magalia, California
Great adventure, James. You gotta love nature to go to these lengths to photograph Rocky. And I hope you get some comfort knowing there are kindred spirits here who understand why you have put yourself through all of this. I'll bet any number of CTrappers have been on similar wild goose chases. I've pondered the flying squirrel challenge too, as well as photographing mastiff bats over a swimming pool 8 hours from home. So far, easier projects have lured me away.

You are almost there. (Your photo kinda looks like an out-of-focus flying squirrel to me.)

How about using 2 AIR beams, like cross-hairs to narrow the focal zone? I've read about that somewhere -- circuit is wired so simultaneous activation of both beams triggers the flash.

Don't give up. Even if you feel defeated, you can always try again at a later date.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:37 am 
Offline
Emperor
Emperor

Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:20 pm
Posts: 1019
JamesBeissel wrote:
I think it is plenty fast - I've used the Cowboy Studios triggers for bats in flight. Sync speed isn't an issue with this setup, because the shutter on the camera is already open.
My main issue is that I haven't been able to get my subject to show up, as confirmed by a trail camera watching the set for activity. One way or another I'm going to make it happen this summer!


Cool, I just meant that there is a tiny lag with radio that there isn't with a wired connection (hence why you can't use rf flash with a leaf shutter), but if it works on bats then clearly that lag isn't a problem.

Another question -- would this be your go-to trigger now? This seems like the ultimate trigger -- one beam, not receiver to line up, no issue with false triggers (except maybe in the day)....
thanks
J

_________________
http://www.flickr.com/photos/j-armstrong/


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ Array ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are


Who is online

Array


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group