14 October 2012

On The Move

Two months ago I had my Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT setup in part of the more forest-like sections of the Woody Cape. Reviewing the first moths images I noticed that a Blue Duiker was active in this area and I wanted to get some video of it. I moved the camera to a different tree and waited.

Below is a collection of the video clips I got. Although the Blue Duiker was active during the day, the forest is so dark that the flash kicked in on most occasions.

Video: A series of Blue Duiker (Blouduiker - Cephalophus monticola)  visits at the Woody Cape

I think in the last clip you can see it using its facial glads to scent mark.

For a long time I've been playing around to reduce the flash of my Bushnell camera traps. Most camera traps, especially the IR models, tend to have a very strong "spotlight" flash. This might be great in wide open areas where the target is fat away from the camera. However, almost all of my camera trap setups are in confined spaces and very close to the animals. This can cause severe whiteout.

In the past I used black isolation tape to reduce the flash, but after giving it some thought (and talking to some knowledgeable friends at work) I decided to try something new.

Two pieces of the textured glass that I'm currently using to improve the flash of my camera traps.

I got some textured glass cutoffs from our local hardware store. The idea is to get the glass with the roughest or most irregular surface.

I'm no expert, but in theory if I can't move the flash further away from the camera's lens to reduce the direct (harsh) reflection of the flash's light, then I can try to deflect the flash's light, thus creating a softer more natural spread. The idea is to diffuse the light, turning a spotlight into a more natural light and allowing the environment to reflect some light back onto the subject.

Since all of my cameras are in the field I haven't been able to do a direct comparison, but based on my observations in the field I do believe that this is making a noticeable difference. I've even put some glass over the new Cuddeback Attack (even though it comes with an "adjustable flash").

My old Cuddeback Capture and the Birdcam each take excellent white flash images. Interestingly, if you look at the flash covers of these cameras you'll notice that both of them don't have a clear smooth texture, but that they actually have different segments that deflect the flash into different directions.

This definitely isn't a magical fix to the flash problem but I think it does help.

Video: Large-Spotted Genet (Grootkolmuskeljaatkat - Genetta tigrina) catching something in the leave litter

I'm sure the above Large-Spotted Genet was in the neighbourhood for a dinner date with one of the regular visitors to the area, the Woodland Dormouse.

Video: A series of clips showing a Woodland Dormouse (Boswaaierstertmuis - Graphiurus murinus) zooming about

I love the way their eyes glow as they zoom around. It reminds me of the cat bus in My Neighbour Totoro...

Another well known species is the Bushbuck. One of the sequences was long enough and interesting enough to put together into one two minute segment.

Video: Bushbuck (Bosbok - Tragelaphus sylvaticus) out for lunch
I usually prefer photographs, but it is nice to switch over to video once in a while to capture some natural behaviour.


  1. Great idea with the textured glass!

    So, were the Genet and Mouse clips taken with the textured glass on the flash....or are you still waiting to retrieve clips from your cams that have the textured glass in-place?

  2. The new Bushnell (Black Flash model) supposedly addresses the 'spotlight' effect. The IR LED's are hidden behind a black screen, while the flash can be set to Low, Medium or High. Also interesting is that the camera now can record sound in video mode, and take pictures at fixed intervals.

    BTW, I, more or less by accident, used cellophane strips to cover the dreaded IR LED's. Dark blue seemed to work the best. According to Uncle Google, cellophane has 'birefringent' properties, so there is possibly merit in the idea.

    Andersins lekker bly

  3. @Trailblazer: Yes, those clips used the glass. I've been using it for a while now. It doesn't fix the problem, but it does seem to "soften" the effect somewhat.

    @Anonymous: Thanks for the info, maybe I should try to combine the glass and cellophane ;)