Beetle Mania

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Leave your infrared-laser tripped stationary camera to your dad, the whitetail hunting enthusiast, 'cause you're about learn what REAL wildlife photography is.
Will & Matt Burrard-Lucas just wrapped up their first (largely) successful photography expedition using their ingenious BeetleCam, a remote control camera ATV. The brothers have been professional nature photographers since 2004 but really set themselves apart from the wildlife photography hive when they strapped their DSLR camera to four tiny all-terrain tires, and camouflaged it.

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After poppin' some major wheelies in the airport security line, they flew with the camera buggy to the Ruaha and Katavi National Parks in Tanzania. The national parks provided the BeetleCam with some amazing photo-opts while keeping the brothers at a safe distance which decreased their pant-wetting probability by like, 25%.
The first real test came when the team spotted some African elephants. The elephants proved to be a little harder capture than first assumed given their super sensitive hearing (their ears are REALLY big). But eventually, being the curious monsters they are, the elephants came over to check out the buggy on their own.

i-4c6bc5865296c1f270da26a9a479d05a-beetlecam-13-thumb-800x485-47584-thumb-500x303-47585.jpg"What the H."

i-8f6b600ca1212afaceb6d62ba6cb093f-beetlecam-15-thumb-500x333-47598.jpg "Smells like peanuts. I love peanuts."

Next up: LIONS.
::Keep reading or you will regret it for the rest of your life.::

This is where the qualifier "largely" I used in the second sentence of this post comes into play. When you're driving a toy Hummer with an expensive duct-taped camera right into a pride of lions, you think "What could go wrong?" But then you're reminded that they're MF'ING LIONS when they grab your camera and take it into the bush to gnaw on it. But. Thankfully, the brothers were able to snag these incredible photos from the mangled camera body:

i-5a69d61955b0e5868cac2f5f62e5f38f-beetlecam-4-thumb-500x333-47589.jpg"Dude. It's cool. I've read Jose Cansenco's twitter page. I know how to handle perceived threats."

i-3b57430de7c5210fbf73bdc50f1b89a7-beetlecam-5-thumb-500x333-47592.jpg Absolutely terrifying.

So with camera one gone (a Canon 400D = $600), they had to think fast. The brothers' only option, other than to spend the rest of their African vacay at the hotel bar drinking tequila sunrises, was to strap their other camera (a Canon EOS 1D MK III = $6,000) onto to the ATV. No pressure.

Needless to say, the brothers steered clear of Africa's top predators. And I'm glad they did because it meant they were able to capture one of my favorite animals, the African Buffalo. Sure, they can be ferociously aggressive toward humans and other threatening animals, but a small motorized camera buggy didn't seem to bother them. In fact, they were pretty interested in the thing.

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The BeetleCam Brothers will be making another trip to Africa later this year. Hopefully with lion repellent in tow. You should all, every single one of you, check out their blog, blog.burrard-lucas.com/ and subscribe to the RSS feed or email list so you won't miss a thing. And for more videos like this one, head over to the BeetleCam page.

Thanks so much to Will (of Will & Matt) for the great photos and information about the BeetleCam.

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Crumbs! I even loved the background music! What was it?

Wildlife photography should be about capturing the shot without screwing with the animals. If you want nostril shots go to the zoo. This idea is supreme arrogance. I hope every camera used this way gets eaten. (Bonus if the yuppy with the remote control gets eaten too).

I hate to say I agree with you Morne', because I did like the Pics, but I do agree with you.

By 722legolas (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think the photos are great and I'll bet Ms. Lioness didn't mind the distraction nor did the Cape Buffalo.

By frangipani (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Actually, Morne, I disagree with you. This beetlecam idea is one way of capturing wildlife shots by minimally "screwing" with the animals. If anything, it just peeks their curiosity and curious animals can make for great photo ops. There are so-called photographers out there that stage photos. Some even go as far as renting captive animals from poachers to photograph and even place starving, exhausted, animals against each other just to entice a stupid battle scene. Now THAT is screwing with animals. Like I said, this beetlecam minimally screws with animals. These photographers aren't harming the animals in any way. Love the pics!

@Minz and Frangipani. Being an African and having visited several African conservation areas instils a very strong conservation ethic. It is a privilege to visit any of these areas and the price is that you keep disturbance to the wildlife to an absolute minimum. What these Mavericks are doing flies in the face of all that, breaks the rules and regulations of the Katavi National Park where these photographs were taken and breaks all the ethics of wildlife photography. Just because a non-expert cannot discern an obvious impact on these animals does not mean none has occurred. As an example ask yourself if you would let your favourite dog chew on the lithium-ion batteries that most likely powers the devices the lions ended up chewing on.
This extract from an article web page by Juan Pons nicely summarizes exactly what a wildlife photographer should be doing:
(http://dpexperience.com/2010/04/23/wildlife-week-respect-wildlife/)
· First do no harm â The foundation of the wildlife photographers ethic. You must always ask yourself if the next action you are about to take will bring any harm to wildlife. Sometimes itâs very clear-cut, sometimes itâs a little more difficult to discern what consequences your actions make have. In any case you should always be considering the welfare of your subject first and foremost.
· Leave no trace behind â We have all heard this before. This means not to alter, modify disturb or destroy any habitat, food source or surroundings. Leave your location in the same state than you found it.
· Never harass wildlife â This means never to never taunt, bait or force an action out of your subject. Be patient! The most beautiful wildlife photographs result from natural behaviour. Never interfere with animals engaged in breeding, feeding, nesting, or caring for young. Learn the habits of your subjects; Respect and protect your subject, look for signs of stress. If you notice your subject is altering itâs behaviour as a result of your actions, stop. Learn to recognize wildlife alarm signals for the safety of both wildlife and yourself.

Wishing death on somebody because a lion chewed on their camera? Valuing the comfort of a beast over the life of a human? Think about what you say before spouting off in a fit of rage. Or perhaps you are just insane?

But just think about all the traffic this post has generated for Jose Cansenco's twitter page. It looks like the guy really needed something good to happen.

Morné, I also disagree. You can't photograph wildlife without messing with them to some degree. Even the best zoom lens in the world sill requires getting close enough to the animals for them to be aware of you. This beetlecam is probably harassing the wildlife less than the average tourist on safari. And lions probably chew on much worse things than a camera (which wasn't "left behind" - the article states that the photographers picked it up as soon as it was safe to do so).

From my perspective, the operators of the beetlecam are following all the of Juan Pons' directives.

Jealous much Morne?

Look, teaching science without referring to the scientific method is like teaching math without referring to proofs.

Morné, I also disagree.Wishing death on somebody because a lion chewed on their camera? Valuing the comfort of a beast over the life of a human.Leave no trace behind â We have all heard this before. This means not to alter, modify disturb or destroy any habitat, food source or surroundings. Leave your location in the same state than you found it.

Actually, Morne, I disagree with you. This beetlecam idea is one way of capturing wildlife shots by minimally "screwing" with the animals. If anything, it just peeks their curiosity and curious animals can make for great photo ops. There are so-called photographers out there that stage photos. Some even go as far as renting captive animals from poachers to photograph and even place starving, exhausted, animals against each other just to entice a stupid battle scene. Now THAT is screwing with animals. Like I said, this beetlecam minimally screws with animals. These photographers aren't harming the animals in any way. Love the pics!

thanks by admin