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

Picture of 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.
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McClay142 years ago
aww, i thought this instructable was to show us you shooting a humming bird with a gun not a camera :,(
jexter5 years ago
Late to this Instructable, but:

A - great job, very useful and well presented, and
B - "CAUTION ! Whenever drilling sheet metal, there is a tendency for the bit to "grab" the sheet metal from your grasp, making a wicked rotary knife that can slice you up pretty good."

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.
Six months ago I was mocking up a 3-axis sled for a camera mound, and ignored these basic facts:
1 - sheet metal edges are really REALLY sharp, and
2 - sheet metal tends to grab the drill bit and spin if not well secured.

I was in a hurry, and "just reaming out a hole a little", 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" x 1" 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!) .

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.

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.
lbrewer426 years ago
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?).
Makescreenname (author)  lbrewer425 years ago
I agree.  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.**  Seems like it would only cost them a tiny bit to drill the hole and thread it.  Maybe they want you to upgrade to more expensive cameras that have wireless or other electronbic remote capabilities.  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.
**See Tord's comment of April 8.  Apparently Fuji "gets it".
Tord lbrewer425 years ago
My Fuji S9000's release button is made for cable release - should work well for things like this!
i am totally going to make this but i might follow this design they sell online!
Makescreenname (author)  struckbyanarrow5 years ago
That's a nice rig.  Wish I 'd seen it sooner.  One problem for me is that I really don't have the metal-working equipment to do the precision work this device seems to require.  Probably could have gleaned a few ideas from it, though.

Thanks for sharing,

Happy Shooting!
I collected random metal bits and pieces to build it, and it was fairly simple.
Soupraok6 years ago
what do you type in ebay to find this?
Makescreenname (author)  Soupraok5 years ago
Sorry for the delay in responding.  Try searching ebay with something like "air release", or "pneumatic release", "air remote shutter release", "pneumatic shutter release", something with those terms.  Specify the photographic equipment or cameras/equipment categories. 

Happy shooting!
Crucio Soupraok5 years ago
I'd like to know the search terms too, please.
Phil B Soupraok6 years ago
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.
guy905 years ago

Great upload, due to my lack of electrical skills' this rig seems simpler for me (Y)

flammel5 years ago
 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.
I personally never use flash outside unless I'm using it a fill flash, which is rarely.
just two changes would yield you much better 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)

you should be able to freeze the birds beating wing with something around 1/1000 of a second

Check out my hummingbirds, there are pics up of them on my 'ible
Coolboyme6 years ago
woodgeek6 years ago
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!
mweston6 years ago
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.
zjharva6 years ago
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
Bartboy7 years ago
The frame could be knex
pretty much ANYTHING can by made out of K'nex
thoraxe7 years ago
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 =]
=SMART=7 years ago
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
Keith-Kid7 years ago
I love it! I've been looking for something like this!
Doveman7 years ago
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 really 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!
gmcc7 years ago
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.
JonH2O7 years ago
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.
codykage JonH2O7 years ago
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
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