Things I Learned Using Trail Cameras

I’ve been using trail cameras at Spruce-lake for a couple years now. I use it mostly for security and because I like seeing photos of cute wildlife. In the past couple years I’ve made some mistakes in using and setting them up. So, if you want the best photos from your cameras don’t do what I did.

Be mindful of the sun. Having the sun anywhere in your field of view will cause sun flares and overexpose your photos. As the seasons change the location of the sunrise and sunset will also change. Check periodically and relocate the cameras as necessary.

Sun flaring will ruin your shot. Try to take pictures of the sun at night when it’s not so bright out.

Be mindful of other cameras. Having infrared cameras set up in the field of view of another camera can mess up your night photos. IR emitters will show up as glowing dots in the photos and make it hard to view your object. If you need multiple views of a high traffic area, consider angling the cameras in the same direction.

How many deer do you see in this photo? There are two, bottom right.

Note the location of the card slot. Card slots underneath the camera housing make it likely they’ll fall out when retrieving the cards, especially if you’re wearing gloves or your hands are very cold. Therefore, don’t put your cameras directly above water or tall grasses if you can help it.

Use two hands or you will drop your card in the undergrowth. Don’t ask me how I know.

Buy 2x the cards you need. Unless you bring your laptop into the field, you’ll have to retrieve the card, return to base, download the pics, and walk back to replace the card. Having a fresh card to swap out means saving a return trip. This could be especially troublesome if you have multiple cameras.

Trim branches! When branches get covered with snow or shaken by the wind they’ll droop into frame. That can set off the motion sensor and fill your memory cards with false positive shots or worse, obscure your target.

Very useful security footage of an itinerant branch, trespassing at Spruce-lake.

Consider your subjects expected direction of travel. Pointing the camera perpendicular to the direction of travel makes it likely you’ll miss your shot. By the time it senses the moving subject and snaps a photo, the subject will have moved too far from the center of the frame. It’s better to place the camera at an oblique angle to the expected direction of travel, guaranteeing your subject will be in frame.

How inconsiderate of the fox to not pose for a photo!

Whether using game cameras for security or critter watching, it takes a little bit of experience to get the best photos. Hopefully these few tips will help you get started and avoid the mistakes that I’ve made.

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