Bird watching goes wireless with Bird Photo Booth
November 15, 2012
Taking a close-up photograph of a bird is no easy task without high-end photo equipment and the patience of a trainspotter. By combining the power of smartphones, wireless technology and quality macro lenses, a KickStarter project called Bird Photo Booth promises to take bird photo enthusiasts a little closer to their subjects without ruffling anyone's feathers.
Designed by Bryson Lovett, a photographer and bird spotter based in Los Angeles, Bird Photo Booth allows anyone with an iPhone, iPod Touch or GoPro to gaze at bird life through their smartphones using wireless technology. The device is set into a handcrafted FSC oak and CNC metal feeder to produce a live stream on another device via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Besides watching the birds, the Bird Photo Booth allows the user to take high-resolution photos as well as “talk” to them using Apple’s FaceTime. For those who would like to share the ensuing avian wonder, the images captured can be instantly uploaded to social networks.
Bryson emphasizes the system is very simple to use, so you don’t have to be a gadget wizard to remotely interact with birds (which is also the principle behind Wingscapes BirdCam). First find the spot where the birds tend to visit and set up the Bird Photo Booth on the ground, on a tripod, or in a tree. Then launch one of the suggested iOS apps for streaming, such as Wireless Camera, or GoPro’s free remote app, and insert the device of choice – iPhone (3G or later), iPod touch or GoPro – into the Bird Photo Booth. You're now ready to sit back and enjoy the live feed via a wireless connection from a comfortable remote location.
The makers of the device claim that birds' "facial expressions" can be captured using iPhone’s built-in face detection technology enabled by the Booth's macro lens. It's claimed that, even using an iPhone 4, photographers will be able to blow their images up to 52 x 52 inches (132 x 132 cm) without pixelation – a bold claim. An adjustable arm allows the location of the feeder to be adjusted, so theoretically it should at least be possible to take photos of incoming or departing birds with the feeder out of shot.
The weatherproof design was inspired by the original 1950s Polaroid Land camera. It has been conceived to allow for next-generation smartphones to be integrated with the interchangeable protective foam inserts. Currently Bird Phone Booth is available for (iPhones 3G and later) iPod Touch and GoPro / GoPro Hero2 with Wi-Fi BacPac, but there are plans for a Universal Android insert as well.
The package includes high quality interchangeable lenses (macro and polarizing lenses) and Bryson says it will be able to accommodate other types of lenses such as wide-angle and fisheye lenses, which are not included.
The video below shows how to take pictures with Bird Photo Booth.