Saturday, December 11, 2021


With limited daylight this time of year, most of the trailcam images in the yard are at night. Most of them aren't great images but do show what is happening. We've had up to three deer at a time. We usually capture the fox in the field behind the house, but this time it was in our yard.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Deer season

It is deer hunting season, I guess. Most hunters would take this one, but it is within our subdivision so please don't shoot toward our house. There's also a few blurry fox images from that field. Facing the other way, toward the house, here's a buck that might have another year to live.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Twilight extended

The two Reconyx camera are deep in the shady forest. It takes a while in the morning for the sun to rise above the mountains and the light to filter through the trees to get the cameras switched out of night B&W mode. This is about 30 minutes after sunrise.

Friday, October 29, 2021


It is tempting to save a few bucks on trailcams, but it usually isn't worthwhile. I bought the Primos Proof Camera 02 for $102 in 2015 and will never buy that brand again. I haven't used it lately because, well, it sucks. Daytime images are very overexposed about 95% of the time. About the only thing it has ever done passably well is night videos, but there's no way to set it to shoot just at night. I've got three of my better cameras deployed in the National Forest, so decided to deploy the Primos as one of the two cameras in my yard. Operating costs are virtually nil with rechargeable batteries rather than lithiums, so why not? Here's a deer wandering through the field behind the house.

This is an image grab from a video in 2017 of a badger in the Badlands.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

More bluebirds

With motion-triggered DSLR bluebird images, I've been prefocusing and hoping for the best. I set the f-stop between 8 and 11 to get some depth of field, but that means I either have to use a high ISO or a slow shutter speed. I got a new flash, but I've still got the problem of it powering down long before it get triggered. The hardware solution to the flash falling asleep seems to be a second Camtraptions wireless receiver, which costs £20 plus shipping from England.

Until I get that, I will have to experiment with being "artistic." This image is perfectly in focus, but the bird is motion-blurred. 5D Mark III, 300mm lens, 1/125 at f/11, ISO 250.

If the bird stands perfectly still, no problem. 1D Mark II, 35mm lens, 1/250 at f/7.1, ISO 250.

And this one combines a relatively-static bird on the right with an artistic blur on the left. 1D Mark II, 35mm lens, 1/320 at f/9, ISO 250.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021


I continue inching the 1D/wide angle camera trap closer to the box. From today, lens set at about 30mm on 1D Mark II:

Monday, August 23, 2021

Wide angle

I've been concerned that the shutter noise from the ancient 1D Mark II would scare the birds away, but they seem to have gotten used to it. These are with a 35mm lens set very close to the bird bath/nest box. The PIR is mounted right on top of the camera rather than using the wireless. The wireless works great, but this setup requires that much less preparation.

Sunday, August 15, 2021


Since I first pointed the trailcams at the bird box and baths a few months ago, I've accumulated tens of thousands of images. It would be impossible to post a generous sample using methods I've used in the past, so I've selected several hundred for a Google album. These are all trailcam images; I will continue to post DSLR images in the usual manner here and on my web site. Click on this link to see the bluebirds and lots of other visitors to our yard in Montana. The images are in chronological order starting June 12, 2021, and I may continue adding to this album for another month or so.

Google Album Link - Backyard Trailcam 2021

The DSLR camera trap and remote trigger images I've taken have been with longer lenses up to 500mm. With a long lens, it is difficult to get depth of field even with a small aperture of f/11 or f/16. This image is with a different setup than I've tried previously. I used the 1D Mark II with a wide angle 17-35 lens set at 35mm. The depth of field is very good even at f/8 with only the cropped-out bottom of the image slightly fuzzy. The camera is only a couple feet from the subject so I mounted the Camtraptions PIR directly on top of the camera and didn't use the wireless receiver. However, I'm concerned that with the camera so close, the shutter noise will scare the birds away, particularly using the ancient and noisy 1D Mark II. We'll see.

First Light

One reason for all the bird images I've been gathering this summer is practice for bigger game. After 10 months of yard duty I was able to deploy the two Reconyx cameras in the national forest south of Red Lodge, MT four weeks ago. The plan is to leave at least one of them in place all winter. So far, I've gotten a bear, moose, deer, cat (probably feral), and various people with and without dogs. Pictured here are the bear and the moose, both taken by the old Reconyx. I'm thinking about moving the new Reconyx further up the mountain, which should eliminate some of the people/dogs. Or I might pull it out of there if I find an even better place for it.

Friday, August 13, 2021

New Birdbath

Before buying a birdbath, I set a water-filled plant tray on the ground for a few weeks to see if the birds would come. They did. So I took the plunge and bought a faux copper (colored plastic) birdbath for the yard. The bluebirds seem to approve. Canon 1D Mark II, 70-200 lens set at 104mm, Camtraptions PIR trigger, ISO 400, f/11, 1/320.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


I felt like I was missing some shots with the PIR triggering just three shots in three seconds per actuation, so I decided to set the DSLR to low-speed burst. With the 1D Mark II, that results in 12 shots in about four seconds. I could set it to high-speed burst, but that would be overkill and result in way too many images to sort through. As it is, I'm going with the 1D to save to save wear and tear on my better camera, the 5D Mark III. These were all with the prefocused 500mm at a low angle. Depth of field is the most frustrating thing about this setup as anything behind the rock is not in sharp focus even at f/16.

It was a weird day and all that came to the bath were some robins. I don't go after robins, but if that's all that is around, that's what you get.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Bath time

I've been posting lots of images on this site that are remote triggered rather than motion triggered, which may be bending the purpose of a site with "Trailcam" in the title. Today I finally got more than a few motion-triggered DSLR images that represent what I'm trying to accomplish. The setup was the 5D Mark III, 500mm lens, a very low tripod, and the Camtraptions trigger. I don't have the protective cases or external batteries necessary to set up a long-term camera trap, but in my back yard I can set up for the day and get dozens of images. Today I got bluebirds and robins competing for space at the bird bath; hopefully the flickers that the trailcam captured make a return appearance soon.

Fun with shutter speeds

The problem with using f/16 to get depth of field is it requires a much slower shutter speed or much higher ISO. My M100 selected ISO 160 in automatic mode, so the shutter speed is only 1/60. An interesting effect, but ISO 160 is too low to shoot birds unless they aren't moving. Remotely triggered using cell phone app.

Saturday, August 7, 2021


I set out mealworms for bluebirds a few months ago and got no interest from them. I decided before investing in a bird bath, I would try a makeshift setup to see if they would use it. I used a plastic plant tray with a big rock anchoring it. When we left on vacation two weeks ago, I focused melted Browning #6 on it. I reviewed the results today.

The melted Browning snapped 7,372 images with relatively few false triggers. Most of the subjects were bluebirds, but I also got various little brown birds, a goldfinch, a meadowlark, three flickers, robins, deer, mice, and even a dog and a cat. I'm only posting the flickers and the meadowlark because I think those are the most significant. I could post literally thousands of bluebird images but I need to get better image quality than the melted Browning provides.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Small flash

I'm still trying with the hummingbirds, trying to get a colorful shot that excludes the plastic feeder. Since the birds don't go near the few flowers we have, the color has to come from the birds. These first two shots were taken with the Canon M100 mirrorless, 70-200 lens, and the onboard flash, triggered with the Canon wifi cellphone app. Because the little flash fired, the iridescent neck feathers reflected some (depending on the angle) of the light.

The third image was taken with the 1D Mark III, 500 f4 lens, and natural light, prefocused and remotely triggered with a Canon IR transmitter. Good image, but it's got that plastic feeder in there.

The plastic feeder pulls them in, but then what? The solution would be a bed of hummingbird-friendly, colorful flowers, but that's probably not going to happen this late in this short summer.

Regarding species, I think the bird in the top two images is a male Rufous, and the bird at bottom (and in the July 19 post) might be a female Broad-tailed. Those IDs seem consistent with the range information and illustrations in the Sibley Guide to Birds.


The two overqualified Reconyx cameras had been doing yard duty since last fall, but I had an opportunity to deploy them near a cabin on Forest Service land this week. So unmelted Browning #5 slides over to take over yard duty, and melted Browning #6 gets back into full-time service monitoring the bluebird box. It's a sad-looking camera with camo tape covering the seams, which are no longer watertight due to the fire damage. But the camera works.

Monday, July 19, 2021

More hummingbirds

I haven't had a lot of success with my new motion sensor yet. Bluebirds seem too small to set it off consistently, and I haven't even tried it with hummingbirds. These images are remote triggered, 5D Mark III with 500mm lens. Prefocused, ISO 400, 1/640 at f8. My new feeder got damaged by someone or something (a deer, the wind, the mowing crew?) so the prop is still the ugly plastic feeder. But I cobbled together a fix and the new feeder is now in service. I've seen up to four hummingbirds at a time competing for the sugar water.


As mentioned, non-melted Browning #5 is monitoring a bluebird nest box. Every once in a while it gets images of deer in the background.

This is one instance where trailcams and remote triggers aren't the best solution. Sometimes you just have to be out there with camera in hand. Two deer with different solutions to the fence. I'm guessing that the deer with antlers would have a lot of difficulty doing what the other deer did.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Best so far

I wonder if the noise of the 1D Mark II is driving away the bluebirds. The past few days, I've been using a 100mm lens and the camera is less than 10 feet from the box. This afternoon I replaced it with the 500mm lens on the 5D Mark III about 30 feet away. We'll see if it makes a difference. I'll go back to the other setup overnight. I got two three-shot triggers last night just after midnight, but no joy. I was hoping the flash would wake up by the second or third shot of the first group, but that didn't happen. It was awake and charged for the second group three minutes later, but there was nothing to be seen.

Even if the bluebirds are staying away, the LBBs (little brown birds) are still coming. Technically this is probably the best shot I've gotten so far even though it is rather boring. If this was a bluebird I would be much happier.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


I finally have motion-triggered images that aren't interpolated, oversharpened marketing hype. I've made the leap from trailcam to camera trap.

These are the first two usable images triggered by my new Camtraptions Wireless PIR v3. I decided to err on the side of caution and set the PIR to high sensitivity, so to save some shutter activations on my Canon 5D Mark III I am using my venerable Canon 1D Mark II. It is 17 years old, I haven't used it in nine years, and the battery doesn't work for very long. Fortunately it came with an AC power adapter. Bottom line is I've got a high-tech wireless PIR attached to an ancient DSLR that is plugged into a power outlet.

There are reasons I moved from the 1D to 5D nine years ago, chief among them the cleanliness of the sensor. I needed to go on Photoshop spot patrol with these 1D images, but it's doable. Even after all this time, the 5D's system for sensor cleaning is very effective. But one thing I forgot about the 1D was the burst mode. The 1D is rated at 8.5 images per second vs. 6 per second on the 5D, but it seems a lot faster than that in comparison. No doubt, in 2004, it was a great sports and wildlife camera. My flash can't keep up with that speed so I set the PIR for three shots a second apart.

Maybe I will get a picture (in color) of the cat that has been trying to get into the bluebird box at approximately 11:30 pm most nights. And maybe the flash will scare it away.