Pedigree IR Triggering Camera System

Recently I was asked to put together a system to automatically take photos of dogs as they jumped over a small hedge and then could be be easily uploaded to Pedigree’s We’re For Dogs Facebook page.

Safety was my main concern for both the dogs and us humans involved in the affair. Traditionally race line finishes which take photographs use lasers. This is normally fine as the chances of a laser hitting an eye, human or animal is very small due to the positioning height of such devices in relation to the things passing them being relatively constant. Dogs, just like humans come in all shapes and sizes, which leads to uncertainty when positioning possibly eye damaging lasers. To get around this I opted for and Infra Red trigging system. After trawling the internet for a ready made system I came across on made by Cognisys in the US. The Range IR is a clever devise as it is a self contained unit firing out a harmless beam of IR which can be varied in length as desired. When the beam is broken the sensor sends a signal out to the camera and a photograph is taken. Quite frankly I believe its the work of magical Pixies and that’s fine with me.


To also limit another possible safely hazard, tripping over cables I have added a set of Pocket Wizards which takes out the need for the cables between the trigger and the camera. This also means the camera can be positioned as required on the day to get the best possible shots without the worry or cables. The other simplification for the workflow I built in was capturing the images not onto the camera but tethering it to a computer which would be easily managed, reviewed, sorted and uploaded from to Facebook. Once edited the images could be uploaded in the field literally via a 3g modem to the Facebook page.

The full set up included;

A Canon 550D with the 18-55mm kit lens

A Canon Battery Grip allowing for extended shooting time.

A second Canon Battery.

A Canon 430ex flash to freeze action if the British weather hides the sun.

A pair of Pocket Wizard II‘s for transmitting between the IR sensor and the camera.

Two Cognisys Range IR sensors, one as a spare, these you can’t just pop to Jessops to pick up if there is an accident or it stops working.

2 x Manfrotto 055xprob, one for the camera and one for the computer.

A Calumet Ball head for the camera to be mounted on

A Calumet Tripod Support Platform for the MacBook Pro

15″ MacBook Pro with Aperture 3 to capture the photos.

Compushade to allow a fighting chance or viewing the captured images on the laptop

A roll of 2″ Velcro for sticking the MacBook to the Tripod Support Platform