Watching and Photographing Birds from Desktop

Watching and Photographing Birds from Desktop

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SCEtoAUX

Original Poster:

3,588 posts

45 months

Thursday 25th February
quotequote all
Potentially boring but I thought I'd do a thread anyway. I like sitting and watching the garden birds, I like taking photographs of them. I also have to sit at my desk most of the day and thus, until now, couldn't watch the birds.

My challenge to myself was to be able able to stream live video of my bird feeders to my desk, to Youtube at the same time, and also to be able to remotely take photographs. I wanted good quality photographs so that meant using one of my DSLRs.

The camera I'm using is a D500. It has WiFi but Nikon's WiFi is useless, as is their Snapbridge app. So I have to go wired, which for now means either 200mm lens on the D500, with a cable through the patio doors to my laptop, or laptop outside on dry days with my camera sat in a purpose-built box in the bird feeder tree, with an 18-35mm lens attached.

I discovered qDSLR dashboard to control the camera, it is epic. I have it set so that RAW files are automagically transferred from the camera, to a Onedrive folder on my laptop.

My desktop syncs those files via Onedrive and Lightroom is set to monitor that folder, and when it sees a new file to transfer it to the right place on my hard drive. It also automatically adds it to a collection.

I use Google Remote Desktop to control my laptop from my desktop, and thus I can see live video at my desktop. Because I have full control of the laptop I can take pictures using the "Alt" hotkey on qDSLR dashboard.

Also on the laptop OBS Studio is running, that is set up to stream to Youtube and it does so by using the laptop screen as a source.

It all works very well and I have taken some good photos. I do wish though that I could have the camera on the end of a long cable (20m) to give far more flexibility. I also wish that I had Windows Remote Desktop as a better way to control the laptop, but I don't have Windows 10 Pro.

Video quality could be better, I think there are limitations via USB. I think HDMI via a Camlink dongle would provide better images, but I don't think there is an HDMI option on qDSLR dashboard. There is a network option though, I'll be investigating that.

Anyway, it continues to be an enjoyable project and any "You should do this...." suggestions are welcome.

Edited by SCEtoAUX on Thursday 25th February 17:19


Edited by SCEtoAUX on Thursday 25th February 17:20

C n C

2,316 posts

185 months

Thursday 25th February
quotequote all
Sounds interesting.

Any example photos?

SCEtoAUX

Original Poster:

3,588 posts

45 months

Thursday 25th February
quotequote all
Just a couple of photos below though there are a couple more on the Birds Mock Me thread.

It's only really today that I have got all of the elements in place such that I do what I wanted, though albeit I am now looking for improvement. On my list are:

1 - Get that camera on a long bit of wire, or have a dabble with DD Server and some hacked router firmware (Lots of info at https://dslrdashboard.info/).

2 - Get a cable for my D750 as there are times when I will want full frame over cropped.

3 - Improved video stream to Youtube. The quality is OK but should be a lot better from a DSLR.

4 - Lighting around the box I built. I am shooting outwards from a tree, to a bird feeder in the same shady tree, but in the distance there is a lot more light. I need to add three stops of light to the feeder. Tried it today using a 200w halogen flood and it showed promise.

Also, aside from birds I am looking at "Holy Grail" timelapses now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVOHi4p1UA&fe... - This guy uses qDSLR and some clever functions to shoot completely smooth day to night timelapses. Gonna get me some of that with Orion setting over my back garden..

Anyway, something to do whilst the pubs are closed.





Blue Tit and Long-Tailed Tit (though they aren't actually tits).

The only other birds we get on the feeders are robins and coal tits. Wrens occasionally visit but I don't recall seeing them on the feeders, then there are blackbirds a plenty. Nuthatches appear occasionally, I don't recall if they use the feeders.

At least now I can keep an eye on the action and grab photos as and when. I will update this thread with any additional info.

SCEtoAUX

Original Poster:

3,588 posts

45 months

Thursday 25th February
quotequote all
Ah, a USB extension with clever stuff built in. Just bought this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00B2HP3A2/

Good reviews and should mean that the camera can go almost anywhere in my little garden whilst the laptop stays in the house.

SCEtoAUX

Original Poster:

3,588 posts

45 months

Friday 26th February
quotequote all
Couple more pics, system working well with the USB extension lead.