Late this summer, hummingbirds finally began visiting the feeder we'd put up on our back porch. I wanted to try and get some digital shots of them, but couldn't stand there with a camera "in range"--they'd never come.

I needed a remote cable release so I could set the camera up on a tripod, aim it at the hummingbird feeder, and release the shutter from a distance away. Problem is, my camera, like most digital snapshooters, isn't equipped for remote shutter release.

Although an earlier instructible had a great hack for opening up the camera and tapping into its electronics, I didn't want to permanently modify my camera, and wasn't sure I would be able to do the surgery without damaging something.

So after some thought, I designed this simple fixture using low-tech parts readily available for $10 or less that allows you to leave your camera intact, but still allows you to "sneak" up on wildlife, have camera on elevated position, and other remote-shutter release situations.

Step 1: Design the Frame

The Hummingbird Shooter is basically a wooden frame that closely fits the camera body, that allows the piston of an "old fashioned" bulb release to be positioned over the shutter button of the camera.

I originally planned to have some sharp-pointed screws driven in toward the camera, which I planned to lightly tighten to hold the frame in place, but while building the device, thought of a better way. (more about that later)

My camera, a Canon Powershot A75, has no provision for remote releases, only the finger button in the center foreground of the photo below.

The first step was to measure how high and wide the camera was at the end where the shutter button was. Because of the "sculpted" shape of the camera body, there were a lot of humps curves, and other non-linear dimensions to contend with, so I just cut the wood pieces --1 inch wide pieces of 1/2 inch plywood to rough dimensions to start.

I also had to make note of where the various controls, sensors, etc. were located to be sure my frame would not interfere with them.
aww, i thought this instructable was to show us you shooting a humming bird with a gun not a camera :,(
Late to this Instructable, but:<br> <br> A - great job, very useful and well presented, and<br> B - &quot;CAUTION ! Whenever drilling sheet metal, there is a tendency for the bit to &quot;grab&quot; the sheet metal from your grasp, making a wicked rotary knife that can slice you up pretty good.&quot;<br> <br> This should be include in any Instructable that involves working with sheet-metal. I worked in a sheet metal shop in the summers of my high school years, worked in construction to put myself through college, and have working with sheet metal on various projects ever since. I'm 45, and as comfortable with sheet metal work as a seamstress is with cloth.<br> Six months ago I was mocking up a 3-axis sled for a camera mound, and ignored these basic facts:<br> 1 - sheet metal edges are really REALLY sharp, and<br> 2 - sheet metal tends to grab the drill bit and spin if not well secured.<br> <br> I was in a hurry, and &quot;just reaming out a hole a little&quot;, so I held the piece in my left hand against a wood backing plate and started to drill. I can't describe how fast that 2&quot; x 1&quot; piece of metal turned into a high-speed blade, slicing into the tip of my left index finger at least 5 or 6 times before I could get my hand out of the way (picture spiral cut ham!) .<br> <br> The local clinic pulled it all together without any significant tissue loss, but it hurt like a mofo for weeks afterward, and I've lost most feeling in the tip of that finger, which is a lot more of a problem than you might think. And I was very lucky; I could have just as quickly lost that finger.<br> <br> So keep trying out new ideas, and don't be afraid to try out new tools and materials, but always suit up and clamp down with the worst case scenario in mind. Let's be care out there!
Very good advice, I cut completely through my index finger, with just one eighth inch of the meat left intact, the feeling will return in your damaged digit over time.
Just the other day I was just thinking of needing a cable release for my camera. It was a passing thought and I wondered why digital cameras do not come standard with this feature. I know the mechanism instead of mechanical and some cameras also have remotes. But a couple of slots molded into the case and positioned so you could have a small, clamp-on attachment for a cable release would be a good idea (maybe a selling point also?).
I agree.&nbsp; In fact, I don't see any reason digital cameras couldn't be configured like all the old SLR;s used to be--with a threaded cable release fitting right in the top of the shutter release button.**&nbsp; Seems like it would only cost them a tiny bit to drill the hole and thread it.&nbsp; Maybe they want you to upgrade to more expensive cameras that have wireless or other electronbic remote capabilities.&nbsp; My little Canon supposedly is able to electronically release via the mini USB port, but I don't consider using a laptop or even my little netbook as a camera release accessory very convenient or logical.<br /> **See Tord's comment of April 8.&nbsp; Apparently Fuji &quot;gets it&quot;.
My Fuji S9000's release button is made for cable release - should work well for things like this!<br />
i am totally going to make this but i might follow this design they sell online!<br />
That's a nice rig.&nbsp; Wish I&nbsp;'d seen it sooner.&nbsp; One problem for me is that I&nbsp;really don't have the metal-working equipment to do the precision work this device seems to require.&nbsp; Probably could have gleaned a few ideas from it, though.<br /> <br /> Thanks for sharing,<br /> <br /> Happy Shooting!<br />
I collected random metal bits and pieces to build it, and it was fairly simple.<br />
what do you type in ebay to find this?
Sorry for the delay in responding.&nbsp; Try searching ebay with something like &quot;air release&quot;, or &quot;pneumatic release&quot;, &quot;air remote shutter release&quot;, &quot;pneumatic shutter release&quot;, something with those terms.&nbsp; Specify the photographic equipment or cameras/equipment categories.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Happy shooting!<br />
I'd like to know the search terms too, please.
I bought one of these in a camera store a couple of decades ago. It would be a squeeze bulb (pneumatic) remote shutter release, or some variation of that phrase.
<p>Great upload, due to my lack of electrical skills' this rig seems simpler for me (Y)</p>
&nbsp;Flash won't help at the distances you'll be shooting. You should use a faster shutter speed.
On the A75, I would use the 1/2000 shutter speed with the lowest f/ number (widest aperature). You don't need much in focus in that setup more than 5 feet or so, I'm guessing, so set it to manual focus too.<br /> I&nbsp;personally never use flash outside unless I'm using it a fill flash, which is rarely.<br />
just two changes would yield you much better&nbsp;pictures,use manual focus to lock onto the bird feeder, and set the shutterspeed as high it can go while still having a decently bright picture (maybe set up some kind of lighting or use flash)<br /> <br /> you should be able to freeze the birds beating wing with something around 1/1000 of a second <br /> <br />
Check out my hummingbirds, there are pics up of them on my 'ible<br/><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Create-A-Color-Accented-Photo-In-Photoshop/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Create-A-Color-Accented-Photo-In-Photoshop/</a><br/>
air cable shutter release will get a lot of hits.
Well I've almost completed my jerry rig, though it turned out to be some thing completely different than yours. I'm not interested in hummingbirds or nature photography, but knew this project was full of other potential uses. I've redesigned your bracket and added some features. The camera be set into the rig to prevent unwanted light from entering the lens. This rig will eventually hang from a custom crane attached to my work bench. Both of the cameras this works with have plastic tripod mounts, I suggest not to put any stress on these with a construction bracket, instead just sink a screw head bolt into the wood and use that as the tripod mount. Though this rig is still under completion, I thought its documentation might clear up some of the criticisms concerning its intended purpose. This works with Canon PowershotA75 and Nikon coolpix2100. I'm working on adding a power supply port because these cameras eat batteries. So far this has only taken me a day or so to make. Thanks Makescreenname I'm looking forward to reading your next instructable.
wow, great modifications. Way to innovate!
Just a tip - before you go to wait to snap a picture, focus on the metal pole or feeder part - press the button down half way, but don't take the shot. Right now it looks like its focusing on the leaves and not the bird, this should yield a better result and then you won't have to worry about the camera going out of focus when you squeeze the bulb.
Hey this is a great instructable! At first when i looked at it i though "how can you shoot a hummingbird?" and "what kind of a sick, cruel person would shoot a hummingbird?" and then i realized it was pictures! :D
The frame could be knex
pretty much ANYTHING can by made out of K'nex
i hug trees a lot they smell good..........sumtimes i wonder if i deserve 2 be burned in a large drum of oil though
well we're saving them from being in a landfill until they rot to death. They get to fuel our forges, grills, and guns.
lol exactly
hehehehe dont forget our furnaces to stay warm while we look at out bear heads form the guns =] <br/>
wow very good!
i had a big red flower on a table and sat very still for 10 min. and i got to hold the humming bird in my hand
I love it! I've been looking for something like this!
I should try this. Hummers swarm our house by the hundreds, serously. We have up about 20 feeders. Its so cool, I like to stand really still at a feeder and see a hummer <strong>really</strong> up close. We also like to sit near one, and hold a stick or a fishing rod out, hoping that a hummer will take the time to rest on the end. Its awsome!<br/>
Not actually related to the instructable, but I noticed you had a red color liquid in your feeder. This is not needed because the red plastic top will do all the attraction, and it is debated as to whether the red dye might be harmful to the bird. Just FYI though.
Looks like the center of the camera is centered on the trees behind it rather than the bird feeder. That's why it's out of focus.
its a just a normal digital camera so it wouldn't have manual focus so when you push the shutter realese it probably just auto-focuses on the shrubbery behind.
That's bunk. I have the exact same camera, and it has a manual focus feature. Most POS (Point-and-shoot) cameras do, they are just a little bit harder to get to than on a DSLR. The camera is at home, but I will go home tonight and find out how to set it and post it here in this thread.
oh it does? would love to know how because i never thought they did. wb
Turn on camera. On the bottom, there will be a button that has a little flower next to it, and a MF. This is the Manual Focus. In that mode, the left and right buttons on the d-pad are used for setting the focus. It's not as easy to get the focus to be correct on these cameras as it is on a (D)SLR but it can be done. And if you always have it the same distance away, it's easy to figure out where it needs to be and set it there.
oh i see. i always wondered how they would use manual focus on a personal digital cam. thanks but, does it focus slowly?
Ugh... I forgot how to actually set it the easy way. DOH! Turn on the camera. Switch it to the 'sports' mode. Hold up something BIG (like cardboard) where you want to have it focused. Press the autofocus button, it will chirp. Then press the MF button until you are in MF mode. There. Done. Focused perfectly, and it won't change ever again. Also, in the instructable, you wanted to prevent it from turning off automatically--that's in the settings, under 'auto power down'. Simply set it to 'no'. Although I would recommend hooking it up to a wall AC Adapter (it takes 4.3v, which you can find at radioshack) for those long picture taking sessions.
good job on tackling this on a point and shoot camera. With a DSLR it is a lot easier. Like ewilhelm i shot some good pictures of humming birds in the rainforest but without a hummingbird feeder in the background. It is nice to be where they are not scared of humans and you can stand very close and take pictures. So depending on how much time you have you might be able to just sit in one spot have the camera pointed and ready and chill out. best of luck to you man. take lots of pictures!
plant some hollyhocks for a more natural background, also honeysuckle, they luuuuv those.
As has been suggested - use centre-weighted auto-focus or manual focus in Macro (flower) mode. Macro on that camera will be something like 5cm to 45 cm focal distance. *note, thats a total guess, but in my experience its very small objects, very close to the lens, research the real numbers* Small aperture (big number) will have a very narrow depth, only a few mm or cm, so go with the smallest aperture that will capture the entire feeder in the focal length. On that camera in aperture mode, the shutter will be decided automatically. You will need to use the flash to stop the wings in-air, so you may need to compensate for the flash with a lower exposure (Ev) You'll get great shots out of that. Flash without diffuser is good to catch the gleaming point source light of iridescence in feathers - diffused is good for getting the colours right. 1st image - Macro Mode - Flash non-diffused from about 10 cm away (he was sat on my finger. Very small bird (smaller than a budgie) but looks big) 2nd image, Hummingbird, Flash, on a better camera, with diffuser. Note how even with fast flash the wing is still blurred. The blur is because it was bright out, and the moving wing still exposed even though the flash froze it (note its brighter at one spot). Thats one fast little bird! Great writeup, good luck next season.
Frollard isn't wrong, has the right ideas, but it may not be so easy to adjust these features on your model of camera. Great build by the way, it's a good solution to the lack of remote on the model. In the manual mode on your camera, you have the option to select MF or MANUAL FOCUS mode. Once your tripod is in place, select this mode to work in the area around your feeder (see page 89 in your manual). The aperture information above is correct, so using a higher F number will better guarantee your bird gets in focus. Flash, however, may not work quite right. Most PowerShot camera flashes automatically set the shutter speed a bit lower, but try it out. 1/200th of a second or better should be okay (page 77). In any case, play with these settings, but you'll get it down. Still a good write-up : )
good poly.....

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