The Camera Box
On a previous trip Klaus had a steel camera box made to capture images from the ground. On that trip they tried several times to get it to work, but technical problems with the remote trigger got in the way. John had kept it for Klaus and now was time to try it again.
The idea is simple enough.
Place the camera in the box on a fixed tripod mount. Set the focus to roughly 2 meters with a high aperture. Link up the trigger and place the box in the path of moving animals.
The result: it’s harder than you think.
Camera Box Test 1: Hyenas
After fine tuning all the setting at the camp we heading into the park to see what we could test the camera box on. The first thing we remembered that there was a hyena den close to the camp. Every time one drove passed a whole group of hyenas would come out to inspect who was passing. We thought that their curiosity would get the better of them and we may just get a hyena family portrait.
As we got close to their den they all disappeared underground. Klaus leaned out and dropped a sand bag to balance the box on first. Then carefully placed the box with a slight upward angle. He fired a test shot, which you could hear clink-echoing in the metal box. We were good to go.
We drove away and waited. And waited. One hyena popped her head out to see what was going on. To our surprise she was very nervous. After about 5 minutes she came out to have a look. Klaus pushed the trigger again to test the camera from our position almost 40 meters away. Click. And she bolted back into their den.
This was not going to work. We quickly picked up the box and left them in peace. Considering how brazen they can be at times it was quite a surprise to see them so timid.
Camera Box Test 2: Lions
A couple of kilometers away was the Pride of Lions we had met on Day 1 here in the Mara. It had been a cold wet day sofar and they had been lazing out in the open. The sun was coming out and we could see they were about to get up and move to find shade. The perfect opportunity to use the camera box.
John pointed out that they would very likely use the road for a while on their way to the nearest bushes. We drove out 200 meters ahead, dropped the box and retreated to a safe distance so as not to disturb them passing.
As if they knew exactly what we were trying to do they avoided the camera front. One lion after the other walked the line towards the box, then about 2 meters ahead of the focus zone they veered left or right and right round the “perfect spot”.
Then just to torment us they would go close and inspect the camera box from behind to see what it was. The youngsters tapped and knocked it but sadly all from behind. They were too smart for us.
The funniest was when they knocked it over completely and one of the females made off with the beanbag. By the time we got it back it was destroyed.
We tried again and again, every-time being outsmarted by the lions. Klaus did manage to get a couple of OK images but nothing worthy of publishing in his collection.
We did however get some great low angle footage using the camera box as well as the tripod, but you will have to watch the film to see it in action.
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