Keen to capture images of animals in their natural habitat in as up-close and personal manner as possible, a UK-based photographic team has taken it upon themselves to develop remote-controlled armored cameras.
The new cameras aren't the first of William and Matthew Burrard-Lucas' efforts to use imaging devices in such a fashion. In fact, it was three years ago when they first came up with the idea of embarking on a project to get unique close-up, ground level photographs of African wildlife.
To do just that, William Burrard-Lucas built the first of the so-called BeetleCams -- a remote controlled buggy with a DSLR camera mounted on top. They pair then travelled to Tanzania and used the buggy to capture photographs of elephants and buffalo. Sadly, however, the BeetleCam was almost destroyed in their only encounter with a lion.
Not entirely satisfied with their efforts, they went about developing lion-proof versions of the BeetleCam -- one with more advanced capabilities and one with an armored shell. They then returned to Africa in 2011 to photograph the lions of the Masai Mara. Once again, their BeetleCam received a battering, but it survived, and they came back with a portfolio of lion photographs that exceeded all their expectations.
And the development of the Beetlecam continues unabated, apparently. William Burrard-Lucas has now created a third generation of BeetleCam which has evolved to take into account the pairs' experiences from previous trips.
But the really good news is that these BeetleCam are now available to purchase by anyone that might also be inspired to take pictures of wildlife in a similar fashion. The bad news is that the starting price for a basic BeetleCam is GBP1,250, which is pretty close to $2000 give or take a few British shillings. Having said that, each of the BeetleCams is custom built to meet the requirements of the user.
The photography duo have stressed that their BeetleCams must be used responsibly. They urge those that might deploy one to respect the animals they are photographing and back off immediately if they think that the BeetleCam might be causing distress to the animals.
I'd buy one myself. But there just aren't enough wild animals in New Hampshire to make it all that worthwhile, unless one counts some of the folks that frequent some of the local watering holes on a Friday night, that is. And I couldn't promise that taking pictures of such people might cause a considerable amount of distress either.