Our SLR Camera Trapping (29 Sep 2015)

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Down into the Bozovich Concession and on into the forest set in the Medre de Dios region of Southern Peru, Untamed Photography leader Mark Fernley set out with his homemade SLR camera trap with white flash. ‘I placed it near a swamp where a trail went into the dark stagnant water. The camera trap was set up and was strapped to a medium sized tree. I hoped for the best’.

‘After 5 days, my homemade camera trap was picked up and the flash had run out of power. I got it back to the research station and  my only result: a Brocket deer’s foot and nothing else. The flash had to be re-designed as the white flash was not staying on very long. I came up with the idea of creating a way to attach a motorbike battery to the flash to ensure a constant supply of power for good lighting during the night. Unfortunately the camera was not in use for many months due to the need of repair to the flash.

Later the following year in 2015, I came to repair the camera trap and noticed that there was another file on the memory card. I was curious and took a look at the few images that were on the card. From what was seen in the field and what was seen back in the United kingdom, I had captured 3 stunning images of a curious Lowland Tapir interacting with the camera trap. I could not believe it!!! I got my act together and uploaded them. The images were stunning.  What had initially thought to be a failed SLR Camera Trap expedition to capture images for Untamed Photography along with Fauna Forever, turned out to be a very successful.

GUIDANCE IN MAKING AN SLR CAM TRAP: Photographing many shy and lucid creatures around the rain forest is a very tricky and far beyond a time consuming process. For example trying to get a photograph of any ground dwelling mammal on the Amazon floor can be done successfully but hides, patience and plenty of time has to be involved. Camera traps can be purchased at a high price and the results are mainly for biological purposes and the photographic quality is not to a high standard.

However,  camera traps can be made that can capture stunning images for example ones that use an an SLR Camera . These can be constructed in the following way. 1. Purchase a waterproof Pelican Case and make sure it fits your camera and sensor plus an extra battery pack. 2. Get your camera and place it in your position in the case and begin to make an area where you can make a hole for the lens to go through. 3. Drill a hole for the lens to go through. 4. Add a plant pot for the protective lens frame with a wire frame to strengthen it that is attached to the front of the pelican case. 5. The sensor hole needs drilling out and a plastic window needs to be applied if the flash is in the same case. If the flash is in an external case, it can allow the photographer to gain better positioning for the lighting on the subject walking past. 6. Around each cut and joint of the case needs a layer of silicon. 7. The tricky part! House alarm sensor needs to be wired up to your SLR along with your flash. 8. Foam is applied for protection and there you have it.

By Mark A Fernley