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Review: Bird Photo Booth

Review: Bird Photo Booth

It’s been an exciting few weeks at my house. Two of my children had graduations, from high school and college, plus I got a chance to try out Bird Photo Booth. Last year, I interviewed Bryson Lovett about his first Kickstarter invention called Bird Photo Booth. His invention intrigued me so much, I bought one and eagerly waited for it to arrive. Before it was delivered, I mentioned it to friends, but I always noticed a kind of puzzled look on their faces, accompanied by a head tilt that let me know they didn’t have a clue what a Bird Photo Booth really was.

I understand, because the thought of a bird flying into a booth and getting four strips of four small photos in return just doesn’t make much sense.

photoBird300pxAfter a more detailed explanation, they seemed to get the idea of my purchase.

The Bird Photo Booth I wrote about last November is designed to hold an iPhone or GoPro, and using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you can snap photos remotely of your winged visitors in your backyard from the comfort of your home.

While we don’t have the best backyard for attracting a variety of  birds, we do get our fair share of colorful finches, doves, hummingbirds and a few sparrows.

I set up a few feeders to attract the birds to our yard before the Bird Photo Booth arrived; after all, the  booth will only work if you can attract birds to your backyard.

First, I needed to select an app to remotely take photographs. You do have multiple choices. It can be as simple as pairing your wireless Bluetooth keyboard to snap the shutter using the regular camera app. I chose the Duplicam app for my iPhone 4S. It gives you a live-video view of the birds as you take photos from another iOS device like an iPad.

You need to turn the auto-lock setting on your phone to “never” on the iPhone. This may be a problem if your phone is using email on a business exchange server, which seems to eliminate the “never” option. Make sure to return it to its normal setting when you’re done so your phone is more secure when you’re finished. I did have some problems with my iPhone 4S returning to the lock screen sooner than I wanted. The iPhone seemed to get a little hot after sending continuous video while snapping photos of the birds over Wi-Fi at my house. The same happened with a second iPhone 4S I used.

Any problems taking photos seemed to be technical issues of the iPhone going back to the lock-screen or the GoPro Hero3 occasionally freezing. With these kind of problems you need to reset, which results in scaring the birds away.

photoBird1_300pxAlso, this type of constant use uses a lot of battery power. You can run a cord for external power through a small hole next to where you mount it to a tripod.

I did try using my Bluetooth keyboard. It wouldn’t be my first pick because of the short range, plus I couldn’t tell if I was actually taking photographs since the camera phone was in a remote location.

Using the GoPro Hero3 is a great option because of the Wi-Fi remote option to your smartphone app. It gives you a view of the birds in action and gives you complete control of the camera. The video showed great interaction of the birds plus that allowed me to shoot either still frames or video.

The Bird Photo Booth, made from white oak hardwood with a macro lens for a closer focus, sells for $149.99. It’s a nice addition to the garden. It’s well-crafted and it cleans up beautifully after continued visits from some messy birds.

Part of the fun was the challenge of shooting nice bird photographs with your smartphone; the quality of the photos was better than I expected. Of course, you’re not going to compete with a high priced DSLR with a fast telephoto lens. Although, you get a different look because you are shooting a close-up, macro view of the birds. It gives you more of an in-your-face view, since they are facing the lens as they eat.

Since the Bird Photo Booth sits outside our kitchen window in the garden, we use it as a bird feeder because my iPhone spends most of its time out of the booth. It’s tough to answer your phone or play Words With Friends while it’s in the Bird Photo Booth.

One of my favorite photos is of a mother bird feeding her babies. It was taken from our kitchen window while my iPhone was out of the booth.

Just like any great photography, there is a learning curve and the results will impress you and your friends. In fact, you might want to give some prints as gifts. And a Bird Photo Booth might be the perfect present for the photo or bird enthusiast in your life.BabyBirds1-600px

robert.lachman@latimes.com

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Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachmans

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