Remote Shutter For SmartPhones

Scoping Swans and Ducks

I live in Minnesota which means I both enjoy winter and I feel entitled to complain about it. I enjoy giant piles of snow, though I prefer that it falls on day off or in increments that are small and do not have a huge impact on rush hour traffic, but lead to great snow shoe and ski trails. I don’t mind the cold, but prefer things to be above zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Trumpeter Swan taken with iPhoneX, PhoneSkope adapter and Swarovski ATX 65.

This winter started out very mild and then we were sucker punched with a snow, -27 degrees Fahrenheit and all the snow all at once. We barely get dug out from one snow and then another swoops in.

But winter is long and I need to be out in nature, so no matter how cold it is, I will get out there to enjoy some birds when the roads are open. Using your smartphone to take pictures with your scope can be a challenge. Oh sure, those gloves say on the package they are supposed to work with your phone screen, but never in any meaningful way. Half the time they end opening or scrolling apps that I didn’t want. But if you have your fingers exposed to air for too long, they hurt or become useless on the screen.

It is possible to use your headphones that come with your phone as a remote shutter. It works, but you have to deal with a wire that can caught in all sorts of places on your jacket. Also if you have a newer iPhone and you want to charge your phone, you can’t use the headphones and battery charger at the same time.

Some smartphone models like the Android 7.1 have voice commands that will let you take pictures when you say “cheese.” Neither of these are terribly reliable, my iPhone headphones gave up the ghost completely when it was -20.

Fortunately there’s the bluetooth shutter release option. It’s not attached to your phone, it stays in your pocket, you can use it with your gloves and it won’t misunderstand what you say.

I personally prefer using my scope to take pictures with my phone, but my friend Renner Anderson prefer’s his binoculars.

The “famous” Renner Technique involves him using his binoculars, a PhoneSkope case and the PhoneSkope bluetooth shutter release. He uses the case on one side of the binoculars. He uses one of his eyes in the other. This allows him to follow the bird and know that whatever he is seeing, his phone camera is seeing. He uses one hand to secure the phone to the eyepiece and his other hand to focus his binoculars. The phone will auto adjust. His bluetooth shutter release has to go into his mouth and Renner bites down on it every time he needs to get a photo. It works well for him.

Redhead duck taken with the PhoneSkope Bluetooth adapter while my hand was tucked warmly in my down coat pocket.

I’m not sure how well that would work for me since I like to talk. A lot. It’s perhaps best that I stick to the scope and phone combo as opposed the phone and binos combo. Those bluetooth shutter releases are lifesavers when it’s hovering around zero degrees.

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