In the video above, I’m shooting with a DSLR (a Canon 6D in this case) and everytime I snap off a shot it goes instantly to a web gallery… from the road anywhere. I got the idea while contemplating doing live video streaming for the first time this year. Not wanting to mess with another camera as I stormchase, I thought, it’d be cool to do the same thing but have the live page be for DSLR photographs.
Perhaps it’s not as cool to watch as video for sure, but it’s better than nothing right? And it could really shine, say during twilight or night shots where a still camera can pull off a lot more. But mostly for me, it’s this or nothing.
Once the system is up and running it changes/adds nothing for me. Snapped shots just go to the web instantly and automatically. Plus there’s probably more freedom in focal length with a still camera. Doubt the live video streamer is going to be strapping on a 14mm full frame view very often.
The other upside for me is it will use next to no bandwidth. I’d like to continue getting by on 2 gigs (for $30 a month) on the tablet for stormchasing if I can.
I’ll first mention a few problems and things that weren’t working for me and which made this harder than it needed to be.
There is an EOS App for Android tablets (mine is an 8-inch Motorola Xyboard). You can control your camera with it. The 6D, by the way, has built in WiFi, which helps this. They make transmitters though if you don’t have that. Or perhaps Eye-Fi cards. Never used either before.
The EOS Utility on a computer can capture images to the computer from the camera. The EOS app on the tablet apparently doesn’t. You can either control the camera using remote shooting or you can remote view image already on the camera. You can wirelessly grab those images from the camera. It seemed to be only one at a time, though.
The app is a bit of a nightmare other than shooting controls. Surely you can capture to tablet with it, but I looked and got annoyed. I’m 90% sure it’s just not there. There was one thing killing my idea, even if you could capture images straight to the tablet. While the app was connected via WiFi to the camera, it was killing my data signal to the tablet. No data connection, no instant uploading.
I then tried to do “almost live” posting by grabbing them off the camera one by one with the EOS App. I then bought the DropSnap app for the tablet, which is supposed to live sync to a Dropbox account (which is the main key to all of this by the way).
Thought that I could at least them over from the camera and soon as that sees them in a specific folder, it would automatically take them to Dropbox. The stupid app would never take my Dropbox account log in info. I even made a second one to try again and still “invalid”. That is how you log into the Dropbox ap, with your Dropbox account. E-mailed the app maker but of course got nothing back. Everything was entered right, as I’d do it in the browser just fine with the same info. I then bought Dropsync, which actually worked. Soon as I got images over from the camera they automatically went to Dropbox.
But that method wasn’t live and would take some work to get the images from the camera to the tablet anyway. So here is what you need (at least for my route and live automatic uploading):
A Dropbox Account
Dropbox is really damn cool but it’s not very good at doing the “social” stuff with photos on its own, which is kinda too bad. Basically, if you install Dropbox on your computer, anytime you place a file in the folder for it, that file automatically gets uploaded online to your Dropbox account. It just makes a copy wherever else you have the Dropbox program installed. I now have it on my computer, my tablet and the laptop. Delete from any of those and it deletes it from the others.
You can share the Dropbox gallery page if you want. It gives you a pretty ugly/long url. If I look at the folder while I’m signed in, the second I put an image in the folder on another computer, it updates online at what I’m looking at. I don’t have to hit refresh or nothing. The public link doesn’t do that. So to see things live, a person would will have to hit refresh. I don’t like that and will hopefully find a better place to have them sent to. More on that in a minute.
The other thing I used was EOS Utility. Not the EOS app for the tablet, but the EOS Utility on a laptop. You can live shoot with that. You can also specify what it transfers. It is needed to get the images from the camera to the Dropbox folder on the laptop
There is a place in there to tell it to save the images to. Just pick a folder in the Dropbox folder on the laptop. I have my 6D shooting in RAW + JPG. The cool thing with it is it has a really small JPG option. I’m currently using RAW plus the smallest option JPG which is 480×720 pixels. The next larger option is 1080×1920 or whatever that is. You can have the EOS Utility keep the RAW on the camera and only send over the JPG to the laptop.
A big chunk of this process is already done with the Dropbox and the EOS Utility set to send over that JPG only. There are options later to make larger JPG routes smaller though, if you don’t have that option and don’t want to link people to a big JPG.
You’ll also obviously need a data connection. Since I’m on the road for this, it comes from my tablet’s data plan. The same options for smartphones. I simply have my tablet broadcast a mobile hotspot. You might want to just do that and not think about tethering (I’ll explain). Who wants a wire hooked up to the DSLR while shooting anyway.
Then just connect the laptop to the WiFi from the tablet for that. Laptop now has Internet. I thought about the Eye-Fi cards route but with the way the tablet was losing data when I used the WiFi, I abandoned that route. Plus I had just bought three 32GB cards anyway (non Eye-Fi obviously). I just decided to do the laptop route as I knew I could get it to work. Getting the camera to hook up to it wirelessly was not as easy as I’d hoped, but it didn’t have to be hard.
Connecting the Camera
I only know what worked on the 6D. Not many DSLRs have WiFi built in. I assume it’s a similar step with a wireless transmitter or Eye-Fi cards but haven’t a clue for sure.
First is to have your tablet or phone broadcasting a hotspot and your laptop connected to that. Then enable WiFi in the camera menu system. Then under WiFi function pick Remote Control (EOS Utility). Wireless LAN setup method pick Find Network. It will then search like a computer and show you the wireless connections in range. What worked for me was picking my tablet’s WiFi hotspot.
Open EOS Utility on the laptop. At first mine was grey’d out and I had to click ok or preferences or something. You get that preferences open in EOS Utility and in basic settings have to check the “Add WFT pairing software to the startup folder”. The first time you’ll do this you have to open that pairing application. After you have the laptop connected to the tablet or phone hotspot and the camera WiFi enabled and connected to the laptop via the WiFi hotspot, the EOS WFT pairing software should see your camera and let you “pair it” or connect it. Just now I connected the laptop to the tablet hotspot and turned WiFi on my camera. The laptop automatically popped up the EOS Utility and it was all ready to go. If when first doing that pairing step you can’t find the pairing application, it is in the show hidden icons thing by the time in the lower right of windows.
EOS Utility Settings
Once you have the camera paired for remote shooting, in the upper right of the EOS live shooting window thing, under and right of the shutter button, there is a folder icon. Click on that. It will go to the destination tab. Browse and pick your drop box folder location on the laptop. After that go over to remote shooting tab and check “save also on the camera’s memory card” then check the box below that says “in RAW + JPG mode, only transfer JPG to the computer”. Unless you want the RAW going too. I’d for sure have it set to also be saving to the camera card.
Voila! You’re Done
You should be pretty much done and setup. Snap a photo with the camera and BAM, it sends the JPG over to the laptop. Once on the laptop in the Dropbox folder, it will be synced online to your Dropbox account. To do it live you have to have a data connection to the laptop obviously.
There’s a way to connect the camera wirelessly to the laptop without the tablet hotspot route. You can make some “adhoc” deal or others but well it wasn’t working for me and getting annoying in a hurry. The manual directs you to the CD manual. The CD manual gets annoying in a hurry. It’s clearly the easiest going through a router the laptop happens to be hooked up to, in this case a tablet hotspot. Once I did this route, it was rather straight forward from the camera connecting to the hotspot. Then just had to do the pairing software, only once evidently as now it just connects after I turn WiFi on and have the laptop connected to the tablet hotspot.
Apps for Dropbox – Dropbox Automator
The Dropbox folder of images link is only so nice. I don’t yet see how you’d embed it on your site. So you can only send a person to a long goofy url. They then have to hit refresh if they want to see the updates. It’s a start for now.
Right now I’m only using the Dropbox Automator app. You can do a whole lot with this app apparently. Point it to a dropbox folder and then make your action. You can have the action do a slew of things like resize or put text on an image. It grabs the image from Dropbox, does the action and sends it back to Dropbox to a results folder. So you can just have the link to the results folder for people to view. So voila, you snap a photo with your DSLR from anywhere you have data and insantly it appears on a website with your URL/watermark on it. It can also send the images to flickr, facebook and well a lot of places. If you ever had something you wanted people to be able to see you taking photos of live, well this would have to rule. For me it happens to be tornadoes. Imagine a big tornado crossing the road nearby. People can see images of it live as I snap them.
Embedding the Photos On Your Site
I haven’t solved this just yet and it is the last step. I got close with the Fuzli app. I can at least embed that gallery on my site, unlike Dropbox, which has it blocked. The problem is its fastest sync option is 2 hours. That’d be stupid when my goal is live shooting and posting. You can point Fuz.li to the automated folder that has your url pasted on the image at Dropbox. It will grab those images and put them on a gallery at Fuz.li and you can have that embedded. If only Dropbox allowed embedding. Maybe Flickr live syncs and embeds. Something will — I just haven’t found it yet.
I’m just happy getting this far over the last few days.
About the author: Photographer Mike Hollingshead has spent a decade working as a stormchasing photographer. His photos have been widely published, including on the cover of National Geographic. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.