In the state of Washington, I discovered this amazing log bridge over Panther Creek. It is a lovely old log, drenched in moss with clear evidence of animals using it to cross the turbulent water. A perfect location for a motion sensing camera! Three years ago, I set up on this log and after a couple of weeks I got a few bad images of animals using it (including the cougar below). The images weren’t successful primarily because the camera was place badly. Bummer.
The solution of course, is to place the camera in a better position. Which I did. When I returned to check the results after two weeks – everything was gone. An obvious risk of leaving cameras in the woods is the possibility of theft – and that is exactly what happened. Whoever stole it removed the weather housings, smashed them, and then set the pieces in a neat row as a calling card. It was a painful experience because the system was completely custom and used expensive cameras and optics, not to mention special flash units.
So with the design help of friends and colleagues, I put together a new custom system with the benefit of vastly better custom flash units and I have been using it ever since to good effect. However I have not forgotten this beautiful log bridge in the Wind River Experimental Forest. Understandably, I was reluctant to place in the exact spot where it was stolen from before – but I did it anyway for just one week this Spring.
The system worked beautifully and happily was still there when I went to pick it up. But it photographed no animals. This is not that unusual, especially since the cameras were up for only 1 week. Interestingly, on one particular night a massive storm with heavy rain passed through and tripped the sensor which is a rare occurrence. It takes a lot of rain water to get a photo like this.
In reviewing how much time I have spent trying to get an image from this one location, how much money was spent (or lost from theft), one might conclude that I was wasting my time considering I got no real images. But the truth is I have to give myself permission to fail on occasion. Using remote cameras and high-speed cameras to photograph elusive subjects is kind of like traveling to an undiscovered country. Its hard to know how to proceed without a map, but you push on anyway in the spirit of exploration.