The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Bird Photography with Melissa Groo Practice Matching Your Gear to Your Goals

    • gnu_photographer
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      I'm keen on learning how to photograph effectively from a car, as it appears to disturb the birds less than exiting the car and setting up. I have a bean bag to support the camera and lens, but would like to ask if anyone can recommend a good type of bag or stowage solution that makes it easy to stow and maneuver large lenses between stops. Especially when driving over rough terrain, putting the camera and lens on the car seat does not seem to work well. I'm wondering how Melissa stows her supertelephoto and DSLR between stops in the video "Compare Blinds" (at 4:30) :)
      • Paula
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        If you have a camera bag big enough to hold your camera with lens attached, you can simply put the combo in the bag with the bag on the front passenger seat. I've done that a lot in the past. Similarly, if you have a hard case, such as a pelican case, you could have that on the front passenger seat with the camera and lens in it and ready to go. I've also simply had the camera and lens laying directly on the seat with the foot turned so it's in the air. I have it laying so the body is near me, end of the lens pointed towards the other door, laying flush against the back of the seat. This makes it easiest to grab, least likely to move as it's as most in the V of the seat as possible, and if you angle the foot right, you can make it not roll at all. It still wouldn't help for slamming the brakes at high speed or an accident, but normal travel, even on a dirt road should be fine. Hope that helps. :)
    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I tried editing my original note but it doesn't show up. I added a note that the original kingfisher photo is 3105 x 2070 pixels and 3.6 MB. The version displayed is 1020 x 680 and 94 KB.
    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I enjoy photographing birds but don't consider myself a birder. Bird photography is hard, capturing birds in flight harder which is why I enjoy the challenge. I presently shoot with a Nikon D7100, 70-200 mm f2.8 lens with a 1.4 x extender. Being a crop camera, this gives me a maximum focal length of 420 mm. I'm toying with the notion of getting a full frame Nikon Z series mirrorless and a 200-500 mm f5.6 lens. I recently took a hard look at my bird photos from the past few years and find that whereas I previously cropped tight to the bird, I now prefer to crop to include much more of the bird's environment. So I reprocessed a number of these photos. In following this course, I looked at the Macaualy Library and find that it recommends a tight crop which I guess is appropriate for technical views of the bird but, in my opinion, does not offer optimum artistic scope. I've attached a photo of an Amazon Kingfisher to illustrate my point. This photo, was taken with a Nikon D80 and the 70-200 mm lens at maximum zoom._DSC6429
      • gnu_photographer
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        I agree with you. I think photos that include the environment allow greater scope for storytelling. Like this great photo you posted!
      • Owen
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        If you get good enough at BIF that you start wanting a higher challenge, try photographing butterflies.  Not that is a real challenge!
    • Matthew
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      My bird photography can be split into two areas. 1.) Most of it is done on specific birding trips to exotic (non-UK) locations were I am cramming as much birding into two weeks as I can, with the aim of seeing as many species as possible and getting the best photos of those I do see. So here there is often little opportunity to plan and set up ideal photographic situations, and I need to get what photos I can and use the conditions I am presented with as best I can. As my experience and camera kit have improved I have got better at this, but there is always room for improvement. 2.) Photographing birds around my home area in Somerset, U.K. where the numbers of species are fewer than in the exotic locations, but where I do have the time to plan, wait for right conditions etc. I need to get better at this. This is my immediate main goal, and I want to be able to regularly get good portrait and action (flight) shots of my local birds. I have a Canon 7D MKII camera body and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L ID II USM lens that I am very happy with. I also have a Canon 1.4X teleconverter, but I tend to only use this when light conditions are good. In time I may add a 500mm fixed length lens and I am debating whether a Canon 5D MKIV body with a larger sensor may help me in low light situations, as I have had some disappointing results with my current system in critical, usually late afternoon or early evening shots of rare/unusual bird species that I only see once on a trip. But, that could be operator rather than kit? Hopefully this course will teach me where I have gone wrong. I feel that I am not using camera support systems well enough although I do have a large and smaller tripod and a conventional Manfrotto  head and a smaller ball head. The tripods are aluminium and the large one is heavy. I may (budget depending) look at acquiring a Gimbal head and a  carbon-fibre tripod in the future. With regards blinds and clothing etc I am not a great enthusiast of Ghillie Suits or camouflage clothing, and I am not sure whether a popup blind would still be there the next day if I left it in my local wood. The nature reserves in our area would not be too enthusiastic about bird photographers leaving blinds around the reserves or going off the designated paths. They provide permanent hides (or blinds) that photographers use a lot, and this is what I use. I have learned some tips from the experienced locals who spend a lot of time in these hides. I also get to see some amazing camera kit from some of the "professionals". I don't think I have every seen any of these photographers in a Ghillie Suit?