Toronto Bird Photo Booth Seeks To Showcase City Birds
Hello Life as a Human readers. My name is Rob Campbell and I’m a high technology birdwatcher from Toronto Canada. I just love using state-of-the-art gadgets to get up close and personal with all aspects of our natural world, especially birds. Earlier this summer, I built a motion detector bird camera rig and started the Toronto Bird Photo Booth Business Challenge 2014 to celebrate the art of high tech birding and to showcase Toronto’s outstanding ornithology.
The way it works is simple: businesses host the booth and get photos to enter a bird photo contest that will yield prizes later in the fall. On the Birds of Toronto website blog, l write out every chapter of the story of the 2014 Toronto Bird Photo Booth Business Challenge, and there I detail each new contestant and their chosen location. And of course I report on their success (or failure) as each new host attempts to use the rig to photograph and display their most charismatic birds.
The actual Toronto Bird Photo Booth itself is a bird feeder attached to a digital camera that’s triggered by a motion detector. I’ve included photos of the iPhone 5C inside the Bird Photo Booth proper which was developed by Bryson Lovette in connection with a very successful 2011 Kickstarter program. We also have a Wingscapes BirdPro Trailcam that I purchased from Lee Valley Tools. These two completely different motion detector photography systems work together to get shots of the city’s wild birds like you’ve never seen before.
The challenge was launched back in May 2014 in connection with the Birds of Toronto website. This domain was purchased by me to showcase loyalty programs software from Vigorate Digital, who was also the host of Week Two in Yorkville, Ontario. Birds of Toronto is a storytelling portal; Week Three was in the Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto in the back parking lot behind 33 Laird Drive. John Conn, the CEO of an office phone networking business Standard Telecom, took special care in setting up the cameras. He had a plan which turned out to be a very good strategy. In this author’s opinion his best shot is of a curious grackle that came up close and peered into the lens; perhaps it sensed that something inside had captured its soul?
Week Four was all the way up in the north east corner of the city, near Rouge Park, where David Shephard, the CEO of a Toronto advertising agency. set up the Bird Photo Booth on a century old farm. The stables under the old barn are absolutely filled with barn swallows (a threatened species) but David only managed to photograph a mourning dove. Well actually he got two mourning doves together in at least one frame, and this is important because these birds mate for life, and so technically they are not in mourning yet ! ha ha but they still issue their sad call regardless of their partner’s health.
At this point in the summer, the story erupted on Twitter and attracted the attention of some serious birdwatchers and that’s when the Toronto Bird Photo Booth Challenge was featured on Bird Canada which nicely complimented the updates published in Toronto is Awesome magazine that month.
Week Five gave Toronto dentist Dr Natalie Archer her turn to use the rig, and she selected a friend’s lush backyard that’s real close to her dental clinic at 600 Sherbourne St., Toronto. Feeding sunflower seeds and corn kernels she got great shots of a sleek blue jay which must have bullied away the other birds to hog the silver dish for a day. The big bird left behind a fantastic profile portrait with a nice crest showing, and another head-on shot shows the animal folding up its wings – terrific stuff.
Week Six was executed by flat roof contractor Dan Sheridan of ToughRoof on the pea gravel surface of a recent job site on Queen St. just west of Bathurst St., Toronto. The amazing photographs in his competition gallery include a tiny sparrow acting like a great hawk as it attempts to intimidate another tiny sparrow sharing the bits of grain and corn in the silver bowl. Fantastic stuff, and definitely a contender for the Best Bird Portrait prize.
Week Seven was wrought by DryShield basement waterproofing foreman Gary Dorner who hosted the motion detector equipped cameras on the concrete next to his boat down at the Toronto waterfront. His strategy was to remove the tripods, and even the silver dish which attaches on the bottom of the bird feeder, so as to be able to set the rigs right down on the muddy cement and get eye level with birds eating bread. That’s right, Gary’s shoot was very different from other installations; instead of feeding seeds or corn as so many other would-be birders chose, he selected brown Wonder bread, swinging the loaf in the bag to discourage seagulls in favour of his beloved ducks. The irony is of course that the shots of the seagulls avoiding the swinging bag obstacle are fantastic, action-filled and interesting while the recorded images of the ducks are decidedly more sedate.
At the end of the summer, Judges will review the best photos and reward the best birders among the business people who positioned the cameras . And there will be prizes. Toronto Bird Photo Booth Business Challenge 2014 has four categories to WIN,
Best Bird Portrait
Best Group Shot
Best Gallery of Images
Rarest Species / Best Art Shot
All Images Are © Rob Campbell & Toronto Bird Photo Booth
Guest Author Bio
Rob Campbell is a freelance nature writer and author living in Toronto, Canada. Son of a beekeeper, Rob is keenly interested in using technology to improve conservation and the preservation of our natural world; he funds projects that use gadgets to study and improve the lives of insects (honeybees) and animals around us, especially those unfortunate creatures that are, like so many of us humans, stuck living in the city.
Blog / Website: http://smojoe.com/blog/
Follow Rob Campbell on: Google+
Do you have a bird friendly business in Toronto*? Do you want to enter this curious competition? Please contact me through the Birds of Toronto website.
* Bird lovers everywhere – You are invited to participate in organizing a Bird Photo Booth Business Challenge 2015 in your area to aid in bringing awareness to the fragile state of our feathered friends.