Introduction: Remote-control Nature Photography

Picture of Remote-control Nature Photography
For those critters that just won't let you get close enough ... (or "How to photograph nature from the comfort of your couch while watching TV").


  • Camera with Infra-red remote control
  • 12V Battery
  • Power inverter
  • Infra-red wireless remote extender
  • (Optional: wireless video camera and receiver)

Step 1: Set Up an Outdoor Power Supply

Picture of Set Up an Outdoor Power Supply

If you're close enough to run a power cable from your 'hide' to the camera, you might as well just run an air-powered shutter-release, and follow this instructable instead.

So let's start. First find a 12V battery (maybe from a car or a lawn tractor) and hook it up to a 12V DC to 110V AC inverter. In the words of Snap!, "I've got the power!".

Step 2: Set Up an IR Extender

Picture of Set Up an IR Extender

Now find that IR remote extender you bought from Radio Shack several years ago and gave up on using because it was more trouble than it was worth :-) ...

Hopefully you have a camera with an Infra-red Remote... set up your camera on a tripod, pointing at the most likely place for a good photo, and set your focus up now. Tie your Remote Extender to the camera (rubber band, string, whatever - it doesn't have to look nice, it just has to stay in place) so that it is very close to the IR sensor. We don't want the IR to be swamped by sunlight.

Step 3: Optionally: Set Up a Remote Video Cam...

Picture of Optionally: Set Up a Remote Video Cam...

For the couch potatoes among us, you might also set up a wireless video camera pointing at the same place as your still camera; you can then watch from your TV for a good subject to snap. Personally I just watched through the living-room window (As the Wizard said, "Ignore the man behind the curtain") :-)

Step 4: Say "Cheesy!"

Picture of Say "Cheesy!"

Now using the original Infra-red Remote that came with your camera, take your pictures by pointing it at the Remote Extender transmitter...



Money_Illusion (author)2013-10-08

What model IR extender is that?

gtoal (author)Money_Illusion2013-10-08

Recotron ir100
- very old, I expect there's better now.

dmonday (author)2011-03-06

nice idea, dc to dc converter would be more effective, your wasting battery converting it to 12v to 120v and back down again, also will allow the car battery to run longer before recharging

CanDo (author)2007-06-03

I prefer stealth and patience, but this looks like fun...

gtoal (author)CanDo2007-06-03

I'm with you on that one, but it makes for a dull instructable: "Stand still. Wait for a long time. Take one picture. Scare off bird with camera noise. Repeat" :-)

rrrmanion (author)gtoal2010-10-31

that, plus in some places it gets a bit cold

gtoal (author)rrrmanion2010-10-31

I wish I could use that excuse but it''s 85 degrees down here on Halloween night tonight. (South of Texas. Never ever gets 'a bit cold' :-/ ) No, it was just that you can't get that close to these birds, and a good close-up is far better than what I can do with a telephoto.

Mind you, since then I've concentrated on photographing butterflies instead, which are much more cooperative.

If I were doing this again I would use a webcam in order to detect motion, then have the computer automatically trigger the still camera.

rrrmanion (author)gtoal2010-10-31

sorry, meant like a single system, not ready-made

rrrmanion (author)gtoal2010-10-31

even HD web-cams, have appalling quality, besides, they can never match up to an SLR (SLR-FTW), but if your gonna use a ready-made camera, why not go for something made for it:

besides, 85 (30 Celsius right?) sounds like you could get away with sayin is too hot to concentrate...

jongscx (author)CanDo2007-11-25

I love that this comes from a guy with a ninja spike for an avie

flyboy11 (author)2009-09-11

good way to get your camera jacked but nice ible

Jakeg (author)2008-08-26

how would you do this if your camera wasn't ir?

gtoal (author)Jakeg2008-08-27

As I mentioned in Step 1, the simplest alternative is a very long shutter release:

Some cameras also have a usb or other electronic way of taking a picture, and you might be able to jerry-rig some sort of direct electrical trigger for those. I just took the simplest option that was possible with the stuff I had around the house. A bit clunky, but it worked for me...

ForestWander (author)2008-08-05

ForestWander Nature Photography

Pretty neat idea.

I know where some bobcats are and I may use something like this to get a good shot of them.

Thanks for the help.

Whig (author)2008-06-07

Nice idea =) Little bit hard to take to forest with you but... =)

Crash2108 (author)2007-06-18

Don't tell me you hooked up an inverter to a DC source to just convert it back to DC.

denilsonsa (author)Crash21082007-12-06

That's exactly what I was thinking. I think he should have used a voltage converter. It is small, cheap. I don't know details about them, but someone with an electronics background can explain you. (in other words, it will convert an input DC voltage to an output DC voltage)

CementTruck (author)2007-06-05

"Hey! Who is that guy, and why am I seeing the inside of a car's trunk?" Exclaimed the couch potato as his camera and battery disappeared into the sunset. ; ) Cool instructable. I wish I had an IR remote for my camera.

PikesPeak (author)2007-06-04

I had a thought (this can be dangerous), set up a extendable arm in front of the camera lens about 3-4ft. and put squirrel food on it. When you see the squirrel eating in front of the camera hit the shutter and see what his startled facial expression looks like. Bet you get a very wide-eyed squirrel.

TheCheese9921 (author)2007-06-03

thats cool

PikesPeak (author)2007-06-02

Neat idea. Years back there were plans in Popular Science(?) for making a camera remote similar to this out of a remote controlled cars' insides, and it's handheld transmitter.

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