Camera traps while traveling – any experience?
There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing animals directly and taking a photo. But sometimes that is not possible, and camera traps are a possible solution.
Camera traps are great if you are in one place for a long time – either home, or a place near enough to home. But that doesn’t get you shots from far away locales.
I have started to bring camera trap equipment with me on trips. It’s a bit difficult because I already carry tons of photo gear – this adds more. The hit rate over the time that I typically stay at a lodge – say 3 days to a week – is fairly low, especially if you are only setting up one camera trap.
A solitary, or small number, of camera trips may not see anything. You can try using an attractant – Chanel No. 5 or Calvin Klein Obsession perfumes are supposed to attract cats and some other animals too. These have debatable ethics – some people feel you should never do something like this, but researchers use them widely. I think that a non-food attractant like perfume is arguably a different situation than baiting. It’s probably better to place camera traps on trails commonly used by animals, but that requires a lot of local knowledge.
There are two types of camera traps – roughly speaking – the all-in-one camera traps are fairly small, but the quality of the resulting photo is rather row. Or you can put a serious DSLR or mirrorless camera in a housing with off-camera flash and get a much better picture – but you have to carry a lot more gear. And risk loss or damage of a lot more expensive gear. But you can get great photos. I have used equipment from both Camptraptions , by Will Burrard-Lucas Camera Traps – Will Burrard-Lucas (willbl.com) , Camtraptions – Remote & Camera Trap Photography, and from Cognisys https://cognisys-inc.com/scout-camera-trapping.html . I have also built my own specialized gear from pieces on the internet for high speed shots of birds.
Will has shot some amazing photos with his equipment. His work on the Black Leopard is epic – lit like studio portraits but in the wild https://willbl.com/african-black-panther/. I am going to go try for the Black Leopard in Kenya later this year – but I hope to see it directly. But I doubt I will get photos as good as Will did with a camera trap.
Anyway, I am curious what the experiences other people have.