My Photo Vision

To photograph a bat swooping down over a pond to get a drink.  In this setup I used a Phototrap Photographic Infrared Triggering System to trigger the photograph.  When the Phototrap beam is broken the four (4) flashes are triggered capturing the shot.


Pallid Bat getting a drink

I took this shot at “The Pond at Elephant Head,” which was created to attract wildlife for photographers.

Trigger:            Phototrap Photographic Trigger System (for flashes)

Canon:             EOS-1D X (set on manual mode) (electronic cable release)

Lens:               Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L Lens (manual focus)

Format:            RAW

Aperture:         f/16

Shutter:           20 seconds exposure, multiple frames per second

ISO:                400

Flashes:           4 Vivitar flashes set on manual mode at 1/16 power

Tripod:            Gitzo tripod with Wimberley Gimbal head

How To

First, I set up the Phototrap triggering system with one infrared transmitter aimed horizontally across the pond to four receivers.  The lowest receiver was place 1½” above the water, the three others were each separated vertically 1¼”, the top receiver being about 5¼” above the water.

Bat Drinking When I had the triggering device in place, I set four flashes, two on either side of the pond opposite each other. The setup had the lower flashes on each side angled slightly inward, toward the point where the infrared beam crossed the water.  The two upper flashes were about 18 inches above the lower, and were angled downward and aimed liked the two lower ones.  This set up place the flashes eight to two feet in front of and to either side of the camera.  I then attached the Phototrap to the flashes so all four would go off when a bat broke the beam.

I pre-focused where the beam crossed the water then set the lens on manual. The camera was placed on the southeast edge of the pond about two feet off center and a foot or two above the water line and the camera release attached.

I did all of this while it was still light enough to see (I’m lazy, it made it easier).  When bats started flying over the pond at about 8:30pm I turned my camera on, pushed the shutter release and locked it open and waited for the flashes to go off.  After three or four shots I took a look at them to check focus and composition.  I made one small composition correction, reset the cable release to on and the rest is history as they say.

During shooting I sit about twenty feet from the camera, to one side so I can hear the camera opening and closing ever twenty seconds.

Bats flight pathBats