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Shooting Birds

Male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

So, I’ve been wanting to work on taking pictures of birds for a long time.  Now that Christmas is here and high school sports are on a vacation of sorts, I decided to work on my birding (photography) skills.  To start, I thought I would pick the ‘low hanging fruit‘ and shoot birds at the feeders in my yard.  On my first attempt I’ve found that shooting birds is incredible hard!

For my setup, I tried to keep it simple.  I used my Nikon D3s with a Nikon 200-400 F4 lens.  In the future, I hope to add my 1.4x and maybe even try my 2.0x.  Anticipating focus to be a difficult thing in this task, I just kept it simple.  I wanted to use a large depth of field, so I shot between f8 and f12 for the most part.  I triggered the camera remotely (from inside = ‘warmth’) using a 10 pin shutter release cable to tether a PocketWizard II transceiver to the body.  Since my feeder is out in the bright light on what turned out to be a partly sunny day, I didn’t use a flash.  But, I anticipate having to do so in the future.

Female House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

The two problems that I immediately need to work on are sharp focus and being able to get the focal length reduced.  I need the bird’s image to fill more of the sensor.  The photos here, unfortunately,  are cropped.  The lack of sharpness is troubling.  I believe at this point it’s a combination of both learning to work better with the camera dynamics and lack of post processing skills for the task at hand.  I hope to do some reading before next week, when I’ll try my luck again.  Hopefully, I will have a few more exotic visitors to shoot!  Please feel free to share your experiences and expertise in the photographing of birds in the comments.  If nothing else, this exercise has rekindled my desire to become more competent in bird identification!

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