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Digital Photography Hack: A Hands-Free Shooting Rig

by Romain Guy

I love wandering around big cities with my digital camera. I'm amazed at how many interesting things I discover on foot. Incidentally, it's also a great way to capture candids. But neither of my two digital cameras is as well-suited for street shooing as I would like.

The first one, a Canon Digital Rebel XT, is somewhat fragile and valuable, so I keep it safe in a bag until I need it. This means it takes too much time to fire up to capture a decisive moment. My other option is a Canon PowerShot A70. Despite the fact that the A70 is more compact and portable, it's not responsive enough for quick action street shots.

I finally found the solution to my problem. The rig I came up with uses Mac OS X, and depending on the accessories you already have, will cost you from zero to a few dollars. Mac OS X is perfectly suited for this project, as it offers powerful standard tools, such as AppleScript. These tools have helped me think about new ways to record images, not to mention that the Mac platform is easy to work with. In fact, it only took me about an hour to design this system. Before describing how I built it, let's take a look at the final result.

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This rig allows you to take photographs by saying "Take shot" into the microphone of a Bluetooth headset. The picture itself is taken by an iSight fixed on my shoulder. As voice recognition is not always perfect, especially in a noisy environment like a city, you'll hear "Picture taken" in the headset if everything went fine. Both the headset and the iSight are connected to a 12" PowerBook tucked into the backpack.

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