Most bird photographers have their favorite camera body and lens or lenses. In this section we will be featuring the gear of different amateur and professional photographers. As often as possible we'll go beyond the standard elements and feature new and creative approaches to bird photography.
We'll start by featuring staff photographer Glenn Barltey's approach to photographing birds at ground level.
The "Pan Pod"
One of the most important aspects of capturing pleasing images of wildlife or avian subjects is shooting at, or as close to, eye level as possible. This perspective yields impressive and often very personal images as it seems as though you are really looking directly into your subject's eyes.
At times however it can be difficult to achieve this as some subjects eyes are very low to the ground (shorebirds for example). It can be difficult to get a tripod low enough, and once the tripod is at ground level it can be difficult to maneuver. Furthermore, you may not want to put your $800 carbon fiber tripod in the thick, gritty mud where shorebirds like to frolick.
After considering this situation for a while I came up with the "Pan Pod". A simple broken 8 inch frying pan with a hole drilled through the center and a 5/8 inch bolt combined with my Markins M10 Ballhead.
The great thing about the "Pan Pod" is that you can dig it right in to the sand or mud for exra stability and have no worries about damaging your expensive equipment.
This is obviously a v...
By Glenn Bartley
These days the majority of nature photographers capture their images using digital photography equipment. Digital photography has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities, made learning, while out in the field, much more intuitive, and in my opinion, made photography a lot more enjoyable. The ability to take hundreds, if not thousands, of images in a single day has certainly increased the potential for capturing a pleasing image. However, for many photographers the digital darkroom is still a somewhat scary place. Sorting through gigabytes of images, figuring out which software programs to use and trying to establish a digital workflow can be daunting tasks. This article is intended to provide a solid foundation for editing your images from initial capture to final output.
Getting Started Right…Literally:
Learning how to effectively edit digital images can add the “pop” or “wow factor” that many photographers are looking for. Post processing, however, is a lot like the proverbial “icing on the cake”. Effective digital editing can certainly make an image look better. Nevertheless, in order to create the best images possible it is absolutely essential that, before any post processing is considered, that you first begin with the best quality digital file. There are several ways in which to do so.
To begin with, it is important to ensure that you are shooting in your cameras RAW shooting mode. If you are serious about creating the best images possible, this is an absolute necessity. Shooting RAW offers the greatest amount of flexibility as it retains all of the information captured by your camera. No data is lost through file compression and you are free to make a variety of adjustments to this “digital negative” file. Many photographers are reluctant to shoot RAW because doing so adds an extra step of post processing. This is because the RAW files must first be converted into either a .tif or .jpg file before they can be edited in a program such as Adobe Photoshop. The reality is that with the powerful RAW conversion software programs that are currently available, shooting RAW can actually save you time in the digital darkroom as many adjustments can be made directly to the RAW file, resulting in much less time editing in Photoshop.
A second in-camera adjustment to consider is to always set your camera to the lowest ISO setting possible in a given situation. Modern digital cameras such as the Canon 40D or Nikon D300 produce remarkable quality, noise free images up to about ISO 400. Personally, I almost never use ISO speeds higher than ISO 400 as I feel that above this setting the image quality begins to sharply decline. Choosing what ISO speed to use will have to be a decision that is made based on the available light, the depth of field desired and the shutter speed necessary to create a sharp image. The point I am trying to make here is to drop the ISO speed when you have lots of light and raise the ISO speed only ...