Great helper for wildlife photographers
I do not know how about you, but I do not like to take photos from photo blind too often. Not that I’m claustrophobic, or that my choice of photo blind was so bad, and it would not be comfortable enough to stay in. But the limited view angle and mobility do not suit me so much. Because in some situations it is the best, if not the only way to get as close as possible to the wildlife animal, I try to use it effectively as possible.
Trail Cams help me a lot. Thanks to them, I can track the activity on the location. Discover places where animals spent most of the time, and plan more precisely the position and time before I go to the photoshoot. Discover from where you could achieve the best light and composition. A place where you will be most sufficiently hidden and will have the best possible overview of what is happening around you. Animals are quite monotonous in their behavior and visit certain places very often. Trail Cams allows me to observe their natural behavior without my presence interfering.
Before I set the Trail Cam, I do an inspection on location and search for possible animal activities. If I do not see animals, I look for their tracks. Traces in the mud or snow. Poop, bitten branches, or leaves. Paths in meadows and dense forests will also tell you a lot about their activities. I evaluate the location for the perfect composition and the position of the sun. The possibilities of placing a photo blind. Maybe I'm doing it too scientifically :), but because I don’t like stay in the photo blind for a long time without success, I try to plan all as best as possible.
Places for Trail Cam
Each location and options that offer, where and how to place a Trail Cam are different. I basically try to work with at least two Trail Cams with a different setup. Because the motion sensor has a 20 meters maximum reach, rather less :), I use one or more cameras for time-lapse. It is important not only to capture the presence of animals but also to have an accurate picture of their activities. Where do they come from, where do they leave the area where I plan to photograph. And last but not least where they stay longer and more often. I can sometimes have 3 or 4 Trail Cams on one location, which may seem exaggerated, but all information I get from is worth it.
In time lapse mode, I mostly take a picture every 30 seconds. The camera can be set ON for a specific period of time. Depending on the location and position of the sun, I keep Trail Cam usually active in the morning or early evening only. This is the time when animals are most active. The time I like to be on the field and took pictures, so the data from that time are most important to me. If the camera had to take a picture for the whole day, I would have quickly discharged the batteries and filled the SD card.
What Trail Cam to choose.
There are many Trail Cams on the market from different manufacturers. The price is usually between € 40 and € 200. They differ mainly in resolution and equipment. The more expensive one offers WI-FI and 4G connections. That allows you to retrieve data from the Trail Cam directly into your phone, wherever you are. I went for the cheapest solution. Image quality or having instant information about what is recorded is not that important to me. Be in touch with the Trail Cam and receiving information on my phone is a pleasant thing, but the price was already above the limit I wanted to invest. I work with more Trail Cams to cover as much field as possible. Investing in such a large number of expensive Trail Cams, including SIM cards and guard cases (after all, there are people for whom a plastic box, even if attached to a tree with steel wire, might be a good way how to test their destructive skills), would be a big investment for me.
I use a photo trap with a 16MP photo resolution and HD video. The standard range of the sensor and infrared light is 20 meters. I would rather guess it's less than 20. Even with more expensive Trail Cams, you can not really get a higher number than 25 meters. What I consider to be the key benefit is the display. A display that shows you what the camera sees, even when the photo trap door is open, so you can precisely adjust the position of the Trail Cam. Most Trail Cams have the camera on the lid. For that reason, the screen works virtually only for setting menus and viewing taken photos and videos. It is much more difficult to aim this camera. Since the price of these two designs does not differ at all, I would definitely choose the first i mention anytime. I use a WiMiUS H6 16MP Trail Cam. The only downside of this camera I have to deal with is the inability to use NiMH batteries. These rechargeable batteries are a bit wider and can't fit into. The camera is powered by standard 8 AA batteries and data is stored in SD card. Do not expect top quality images, but this camera is absolutely suitable for documentation needs. I have not had the opportunity to try more expensive Trail Cams, but I believe you will not get much better images, even with higher resolution. The quality of lenses and sensors can be any good. The price of Trail Cams is based more on the technical equipment and processing of the Trail Cams rather than the image quality.