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Megatransect II

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Far-flung Visitor
Photograph by Michael Nichols

Seen most often on Africa’s grassy savannas, the spotted hyena was a surprise when Nichols viewed the camera-trap film. Hyenas are tireless trotters and runners, and Nichols found numerous hyena tracks in the area but never saw one with the naked eye. Noisier than its cousins, the spotted hyena is the species noted for its distinctive “laughing” vocalization.

Camera: Nikon N90
Film Type: Kodachrome 64
Lens: 28mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/4 @ f/4 (Remember it’s night and the only light is that provided by flashes.)
Weather Conditions: Drizzly night
Time of Day: Just around midnight
Lighting Techniques: Four Nikon SB25 flashes mounted in the trees and pointed down.

Special Equipment or Comments:
“Camera Traps”—The camera is triggered by an infrared beam called a Trailmaster. When the gorilla’s body broke the beam it told the camera to take a picture. The camera was kept in a waterproof box fronted with optical glass, and flashes were kept in plastic Ziploc bags. Specially adapted Nikon cords ran from the camera to flashes. The camera stayed in place for two months and was checked once a week.

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