Wildlife photographer Levi Dojczman was out photographing birds one morning when he noticed a fox. Unfortunately, he was unable to get a photo without spooking it. Not to be denied, Dojczman spent the next few days testing a method to photograph the fox using a remote tethering solution.
Most Sony photographers know about the free Imaging Edge software from Sony. For those unfamiliar, Imaging Edge is actually quite robust for free software and even includes a photo editing tool (and can even be used to turn the company’s cameras into webcams), but it’s particularly useful as a fully-featured tethering solution. In this particular use case, Dojczman wanted to take advantage of this feature to allow him to set up a camera trap well away from the fox’s den.
On his initial try, Dojczman brought his camera and tripod to where he believed the fox’s den was along with 60 feet of powered USB cable. The idea was that he would set up his camera on the tripod and then wait a ways away so as to not spook the fox again. Unfortunately, his computer did not handle the situation well. Many electronics are not shielded against extremely low temperatures and in this case, his Microsoft Surface Go laptop registered as low battery within a few minutes of being subjected to the elements.
Luckily, the camera itself could handle the cold for over an hour, so it just came down to making sure his tethered laptop was prepared.
On his second attempt, Dojczman was able to keep the computer going thanks to a clever bit of insulation (a combination of warm towels and his backpack), but the fox did not make an appearance. Thinking on the situation even further, he decided that in order to bring some consistency to the shoot, he would need to build a mounting system that would easily and quickly accept a bracket that perfectly positioned the camera every time. Doing this would also allow him to set the camera up during the day and then come back in the dark of early morning without worrying if his angle was right.
Below was his solution:
The build is made up of two parts that slot into one another. One part is tethered to the tree using field camera straps while the camera head can be easily swapped on and off from a removable platform. With this setup, Dojczman was able to create a remotely tethered 200-600mm lens on a camera attached to a tree that would let him photograph a fixed location from a great distance.
The build paid off, as he was able to take several photos of the fox pretty much perfectly:
To his knowledge, Dojczman has never heard of anyone using the Imaging Edge application to control a camera equipped with a super-zoom lens for wildlife photography before. His setup is not particularly complicated and clearly can result in great wildlife photos, provided you are able to know exactly where an animal will appear.
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Image credits: Photos by Levi Dojczman and used with permission.