Camera Selection For a Software based Application for Bird Watchin

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Rinji, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. Rinji

    Rinji TPF Noob!

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    I am a student of Mechatronics and have been asked to work on a project which is :
    1) Externally trigger a camera to take a picture of a bird's nest (about 200-300 m) away.
    2) The picture is directly saved to a laptop Hard disk using USB cable or some other means.
    3) the application shall now process the image and check whether the bird has come into the nest or not.
    4) If the bird is in the nest then the program shall prompt the user of the software.

    My problem is that I know nothing about photography.
    I need help in selecting a suitable camera.

    Rinji
     
  2. Michael P. Harker

    Michael P. Harker TPF Noob!

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    It isn't so much which camera to buy but what kind of sensor system that will detect the bird flying into its nest. I suggest you investigate elctronic beam interupters that when set up properly detect the bird's flight as its path takes it through the sensor beams. Infrared systems are great because birds, like humans, do not see in the infrared wavelength of light.

    Here's how most photographers set up.

    They have the camera on a tripod so thay can use a "T" or time setting. They work at night so thay can use a flash taped to a tree limb and aimed down at the nest. The flash is triggered by the beam splitter. You have to open the shutter and leave it open until the flash goes off. By using a digital camera that allows for a firewire hook-up to a laptop, you should be able to configure the laptop to capture the image.

    The one aspect about this kind of work is that you have to be hidden and quiet near the camera so you can close the shutter after the flash goes off, to allow for re-setting the camera for another exposure.

    Birds will get used to the flash going off over time. So patience on your part over many nights of work should result in excellent, sharp photos. The flash will help "freeze" the action of the bird's wings, also. Fire some test shots on manual setting to determine your optimum aperature (f/stop) setting.

    Elliot Porter has an excellent book on how he did his bird photography.

    Hope this helps,

    Michael P. Harker
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2009
  3. chrisburke

    chrisburke TPF Noob!

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    wow, this sounds geeky... i like it!!!
     
  4. Michael P. Harker

    Michael P. Harker TPF Noob!

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    I've been a professional photographer for over 37 years. So I have a lot of knowledge and experience about both film and digital photography.

    Check out my website: www.harkerphotography.com

    Feel free to drop me an e-mail if you have other questions:

    Michael-Harker@uiowa.edu

    Take care!
    Michael
     
  5. Rinji

    Rinji TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Michael P. Harker for the replies.
    I am sorry for not being able to express my need.
    I just need to select camera which can be executed by some external source and which can save the data directly onto a laptop's hard disk.
    The plan I have worked so far:
    1) Trigger the camera (By some means like activating a relay etc) to take picture after a preset time intervals, like after each five seconds.
    2) Save the picture on computer's hard disk.
    3) Check each pixel of the picture with the same pixel of the old picture.
    4) If there is any change then prompt.
    5) Save the picture for next time processing.

    I hope I am a bit more clear this time.

    Waiting.
     
  6. Katier

    Katier TPF Noob!

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    Based on what michael said you can save a LOT of effort by doing the trigger based on movement. Whilst his suggestion has the camera on 'b' there is nothing to stop you setting up something that fires the camera. For example you could use a Digital camera with a wireless remote. Butcher the remote ( they're dirt cheap ) and wire it up so the trigger that registers movement fires the remote and thus the camera. Have the camera setup so it fires the flash ( again probably wirelessly ) and bingo every time the bird moves it triggers a shot.

    Whether you want to save straight to laptop is up to you but doing it this way (which is an evolution of michael's idea) means all you need is camera and flash out in the field. Come back some time later and check the images.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    reading your project you could setup the camera - take a test shot with the bird vacent from the nest (also at different times to account for changes in lighting) and then leave the camera with something like an infra red beam setup so that it triggors when the bird lands.
    The laptop stage need not be done in the field at first - but in the home since its only detecting for a difference in shots that can be done after the event whilst you perfect the setup and program. Once done you can then try testing live in the field.

    If you can it might be worth checking out trail cameras - they are setup to fire when a beam is interrupted by movement.
     
  8. Michael P. Harker

    Michael P. Harker TPF Noob!

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    Great additional comments. I love the role of a catalyst to get people thinking through the problem. I don't hold all the answers, but I have learned that the initial spark in a brain storming session is what gets the ball rolling.

    How and where it comes out the other end is the reward for all the participants.

    Michael
     
  9. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I do not think you need a digital camera such as a DSLR.

    You are looking for a Lens + Sensor ---> PC
    Like a Digital Security Camera that can be progammed ... ie interval, motion, infrared sensor, etc. ... and then directly feed the image to a PC application for processing.
     

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