Some wildlife photographers use hideouts, others might get a lucky break – but Will Burrard-Lucas does something completely different to get the perfect picture. He’s captured the most incredible up-close-and-personal images of some of the planet’s most beautiful – and dangerous – animals, and you won’t you believe how he does it.
British wildlife photographer Burrard-Lucas has traveled the world for his profession. Having spent time living in Tanzania as a child, he fell in love with African wildlife and, later, spent a year in Zambia shooting pictures of the landscape and its animals.
Renowned for its biodiversity, Africa is also home to some pretty dangerous animals. But these are exactly the kind of beasts Burrard-Lucas has spent time taking pictures of. Fortunately for him, he has a neat trick to avoid ending up as lunch.
On his travels around the world, Burrard-Lucas has photographed many different species. As well as fearsome predators, he has captured great herds of animals too. For this specialized work he has developed some pretty specialized techniques.
Burrard-Lucas uses technology to get the results he wants. He is passionate about developing revolutionary gadgets and even founded a company to sell his inventions to other wildlife photographers. When you see the quality of his amazing shots you can see why others might want in.
BeetleCam was Burrard-Lucas’ first invention. This clever little device was created in 2009 after the photographer became frustrated by the limitations of the photography equipment available to him at the time. With BeetleCam, Burrard-Lucas was finally able to achieve his vision and get up-close pictures of dangerous wildlife.
A motorized buggy capable of supporting a DSLR camera, BeetleCam allowed Burrard-Lucas to enter into the realm of dangerous animals without putting himself at risk. Some of the close-up shots he’s captured are incredible.
But Burrard-Lucas’ tinkering didn’t stop at the BeetleCam. As well as developing a camera trap, he had set his sights sky high. Literally. His latest bespoke piece of camera kit is epic.
Enter the BeetleCopter. Leaving the ground far below it, this cool bit of tech allows Burrard-Lucas to film from above. Capturing incredible landscapes and herds of wild animals, his BeetleCopter, like the BeetleCam, remains fairly incognito, leaving its subjects undisturbed.
Burrard-Lucas made a number of different versions of this remote-controlled device to house cameras of all shapes and sizes, from GoPros to hefty DSLRs. When it came to testing the BeetleCopters, he headed to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Amazingly, this multi-rotor copter can be operated from up to a kilometer away. Using a remote control to steer and guide the copter, incoming footage is monitored via a live video feed.
Burrard-Lucas’ innovative design allows him to track and observe the animals he’s photographing, “[Multi-copters] are quieter and more maneuverable than a normal helicopter so they can get closer to animals with minimal disturbance,’’ he said on his website.
The BeetleCopter Burrard-Lucas used to create an amazing video of his flight test used six mini-rotors. These little motors power the copter along for up to 15 minutes in one flight. He keeps his shots smooth by suspending the camera from a gimbal that hangs below the flying drone.
Burrard-Lucas and his company can custom-build copters to suit photographers’ needs. As well as the copter itself, Burrard-Lucas’ BeetleCopter kit includes a wireless video transmitter and a portable viewing screen so you can see the amazing shots you’re capturing in real time.
But early on, it wasn’t easy for Burrard-Lucas to get to grips with his new-fangled device. Before taking it for a proper test flight he spent five months tweaking and learning to control his BeetleCopters.
‘‘It took a while to get a hang of them,’’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘’You need have a fair bit of practice before you can start filming, especially when you can’t really see the copter because it is so far away.’’
All that hard work has paid off. The shots from the BeetleCopter speak for themselves. After two weeks of testing in Tanzania the results that Burrard-Lucas came back with are amazing, but what do you expect from the Serengeti?
But how would it change the way animals are videoed? “The animals also react differently to it,’’ he said. “Larger animals don’t really see things in the air as a threat because their predators are land-based.’’ But he admitted that it might freak out smaller creatures.
“It is such a different perspective and people have been amazed by the results,’’ said the photography whizz. “My focus now is to further minimize the sound so that I can get closer to animals without disturbing them.’’
With incredible shots like these, we can’t wait to see what Burrard-Lucas comes up with next. Could we soon be seeing pics beamed back by a BeetleSub?