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Episode #148

Getting Started in Camera Trap Photography


UPDATED: August 3, 2023

Ever wonder how photographers get those amazing wide-angle wildlife shots captured when no one is around? Dive into the intriguing world of camera trap photography, where technology meets nature, and learn how to create awesome images of wildlife while also contributing to preserving our natural world.


Put wildlife in the driver's seat (sort of) with camera trap photography

Camera trap photography is a tech-marvel every nature photographer should explore.

It's not just about the intimate wide-angle images you can make of wildlife, but also the valuable data that these camera traps collect.

So, what even is camera trap photography? That's exactly what we dig into in this episode.

A typical setup involves a DSLR and an infrared sensor that triggers the camera when it senses movement and heat.

It sounds simple, but it requires strategic thinking, keen observation, and a bit of trial and error to perfect.

Location is everything when it comes to setting up your camera trap. Look for places your targeted species frequent, like waterholes, game trails, or feeding sites.

And remember, you don't necessarily need to venture deep into the woods — your backyard or local park can be an exciting wildlife hub too!

Knowing your subjects' behaviors can considerably increase your chances of capturing captivating images. Whether they're nocturnal or diurnal, predictable or not, understanding their habits will undoubtedly pay off.

If you feel overwhelmed by the gear involved in camera trap photography, don't worry…

Yes, selecting the right camera, triggers, flashes, weather housings, and camouflage can seem daunting — but we've got you covered.

Pop your earbuds in and get your creativity fired up with this episode, then hop over to our comprehensive guide on camera trap photography that simplifies it all, helping you make the right choices based on your needs and budget. You'll find useful tips, step-by-step instructions, and advice.

Camera trap photography is about more than just taking awesome photos. It's also about contributing to the preservation of our natural world.

Every photo you take tells a little piece of a wild story, letting us see the amazing stuff that happens in nature.

It's all about exploring, waiting for the perfect moment, and the excitement that comes when you get that perfect shot.

With each click of the camera, let's remember to respect the wild beings we're privileged to capture, and let's do our part for wildlife conservation. Embrace the adventure that is camera trap photography, and let's keep exploring, learning, and clicking together!

Resources Mentioned

Episode 148: Getting Started in Camera Trap Photography

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/148

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
[00:00:00] Jaymi Heimbuch: Hey there, and welcome to this episode of Impact, the Conservation Photography podcast. And today we are jumping into an area of photography that is as engaging and interesting and challenging as it is rewarding, and in fact, it's so rewarding because of the. Effort that goes into creating these types of images.

[00:00:21] Jaymi Heimbuch: This is the world of camera trap photography. Now, if you're unfamiliar with it, camera trap photography is a technique that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for wildlife photographers because you're using a remote camera that's triggered by essentially the wildlife itself. In order to get photos, it's sort of like being a spy in the wild, capturing these images of elusive animals in their natural habitats in ways that you normally don't see them.

[00:00:50] Jaymi Heimbuch: Sometimes it's during the most intimate moments of their lives while they're with their young or in courtship or. Eating or whatever it may be. And you're doing all of [00:01:00] this without disturbing them or their environment. So imagine capturing a bear scratching its back on a tree or a fox feeding its kits, or maybe even a very rare or secretive wildcat that's just wandering across the frame. That is the power of camera trap photography. It is this incredible resource for conservation photographers. We can capture these high quality images.

[00:01:25] Jaymi Heimbuch: That can then be used to raise awareness about the species or about the habitat that they live in all, again, without disturbing them or disturbing them as little as possible, I should say. No, just as importantly as getting really cool photos. Camera traps provide valuable data that can be used by researchers to study animal behavior, Maybe they're movements through a habitat or through migration seasons, population dynamics.

[00:01:51] Jaymi Heimbuch: This information is essential for making really informed conservation decisions and for developing these very effective strategies to protect [00:02:00] species. But the thing is, the typical camera trap images that scientists create are not exactly pretty, they're practical, but they're not wow inducing.

[00:02:10] Jaymi Heimbuch: And that's usually because of the type of trail camera that's being used to create these images. So conservation photographers who are skilled at camera trap photography using our DSLR cameras or our mirrorless cameras, we can help scientists by making not only informative images, but also beautiful images of the species being studied, images that grab attention from audiences and can help spark support or maybe even funding for that research.

[00:02:40] Jaymi Heimbuch: And camera trap photography can also help us monitor the impact of human activities on wildlife populations, such as habitat destruction or hunting. So overall camera trap photography is this powerful tool in the field of conservation and that can help us better understand and better protect our planet's [00:03:00] wildlife.

[00:03:00] Jaymi Heimbuch: But, How does it work and how do you start to use it in your photography? Well, in this episode we're gonna take a look at how everything kind of comes together, and then I have a really great resource that I cannot wait to put in your hands. I'll tell you all about it and where you can get it in just a moment. But first, what the heck is a camera trap or as it's also called remote camera photography, like, let's start at the beginning. Now, essentially, a camera trap setup consists of usually a D S L R camera and a triggering mechanism, which is a, a sensor . So the sensor detects movement, so when an animal crosses. Field, it triggers the camera to take a photo or to start recording a video. Very simple concept, but getting it right really requires patience. It requires knowledge. It requires a fair amount of trial and error. Now, one of the things that's really important about camera trap photography is choosing the right location.

[00:03:59] Jaymi Heimbuch: [00:04:00] This is actually really critical and where you wanna begin because you wanna make sure to put your camera in a place that it's going to actually. See the species that you're hoping to photograph. You need to find places that your target species frequent, so this could be water holes or game trails or larders on the landscape. These areas where an animal frequently goes to hunter to feed, but here's a little secret. You don't have to venture deep into the wilderness to set up a camera trap. In fact, your backyard or even a local Parker Preserve can be just as exciting as some far off wild spot.

[00:04:38] Jaymi Heimbuch: You'd actually be surprised at the variety of wildlife that thrives in these urban environments where you can experiment with camera trap photography. So if you're thinking that you might wanna try it, consider setting up your first camera trap, maybe in your own backyard Or maybe a neighbor's property so you don't have to go far to give this a try now, okay, [00:05:00] choosing the right location is a really critical aspect, but so too is understanding your subject itself. Now, when you set up your camera trap, you're usually thinking of a particular species that you wanna be able to photograph.

[00:05:13] Jaymi Heimbuch: And each animal, each species has unique behavioral patterns. Some are nocturnal, some are diurnal. Some follow specific paths and others are more predictable. So the better you understand your target species, the higher your chances of capturing compelling images becomes. So some naturalist skills, some research into target species is really, really important.

[00:05:36] Jaymi Heimbuch: Studying who it is that you wanna photograph. Is just as important as studying the equipment that you would use to photograph them with. But speaking of equipment, let's go ahead and talk about gear. Camera. Trap photography can seem daunting. I know because there is this variety of equipment involved.

[00:05:53] Jaymi Heimbuch: There's your camera triggers, flashes. Not to mention weather, housings, [00:06:00] camouflage. It can be a lot, but don't let this deter you. You can actually start out very simply, especially if you're starting out somewhere, like in your own backyard, and you can grow your kit from there specializing it depending on what it is that you wanna photograph and where you're photographing them. But you can start simple.

[00:06:17] Jaymi Heimbuch: And in fact, I have a resource for you that I mentioned earlier that will walk you through just what equipment to get. We have a guide on conservation visuals.com, all about camera trap photography. So if you are itching to delve into camera trap photography, but you wanna an overview of what this looks like, the equipment that you need, how to get started, this comprehensive guide is packed with.

[00:06:42] Jaymi Heimbuch: Everything you need to know you can head to conservation visuals.com/camera trap and get access to this guide right away and go through it. It is designed to give you the knowledge and the skills to embark on your own camera trap, photography, adventure, and [00:07:00] it covers everything from understanding different camera trap techniques to selecting the right gear and finding the perfect location and setting up your camera trap what to actually look for and how to get going.

[00:07:11] Jaymi Heimbuch: It is filled with practical tips, and insights that are gonna help you get started. And here's the best part. It emphasizes the role of camera trap photography in conservation because wildlife photography isn't just about capturing beautiful images.

[00:07:26] Jaymi Heimbuch: It's about raising awareness and contributing to the preservation of our natural world. And with camera trap photography. We can monitor wildlife populations, we can study animal behavior. I mean, each image that you capture contributes to our understanding of wildlife and therefore can contribute to our protection of it.

[00:07:45] Jaymi Heimbuch: So whether you are brand new and looking to explore wildlife photography, or you are a seasoned conservation photographer and you wanna add another skillset to your portfolio, This guide is a treasure trove of information to [00:08:00] help you start down the path of camera trap photography. So head over to conservation visuals.com/camera trap. The link is also in the show notes, so wherever you're listening, you can just scroll down to find a link to the show notes and get right over to this guide and embark on that journey of patience, of troubleshooting, of the thrill. That is camera chat photography. Now remember, every image you capture tells a story, and often we are working so hard to capture very specific images.

[00:08:34] Jaymi Heimbuch: And with camera trap photography, you can do so much planning and so much thought into the images that you wanna make and what is actually created will always be a fun surprise because it's not only you in the driver's seat. Now, your subjects are in the driver's seat too for making these images.

[00:08:51] Jaymi Heimbuch: So it is a very exciting realm to venture into. Again, you can get that free guide@conservationvisuals.com [00:09:00] slash camera chat. I definitely hope that today's short episode has inspired you to try out camera trap photography and to use it to contribute to wildlife conservation in your own unique way. Again, it might seem like a daunting thing to try, but you can start simply and it is so interesting, so challenging, such a fun way to grow your skills.

[00:09:24] Jaymi Heimbuch: All right. Until next time, keep exploring, keep learning, keep clicking, and I will talk to you again next week.


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