Winter Blues

Winter Blues

It is my turn to post a bird picture. Pretty soon we are going to have to rename this site from Between Raindrops to “Amateur Bird Photography”.

Today I took a trip to the park to get out for a bit and I thought I would go hunting for birds. I generally don’t like bird photography, not because they are not awesome, but because I am a little iffy on my telephoto lens. It can be sharp – but more often than not, it isn’t. I have had it for a number of years now, but only recently thought that I should start to feel out its happy spots. With any lens you have apertures and focal lengths that are sharp, and ones that aren’t. I took a number of shots today and played around with the setting very little. I had intended to do more, but while wearing gloves the dials were to hard to flick around.

There were a few that came out to my liking of sharpness, but this is the one that I am picking as today’s winner. Mostly because this is my favourite of all birds that popped by for a visit while I was out. It wasn’t around for long and only made two appearances. I had to snap off a number of shots as quickly as I could and was unable to do any camera setting changes.

I learned a few things though:

  1. Birds are skiddish little buggers. I already knew this, but the issue with the winter is that you don’t want to sit still for too long because you will get very cold. As such, you want to move a little to bring in some body heat, which in return scares everything away. When I first got to the park, I took a walk around and was able to get a few shots of birds high into the trees, but anything lower down, or close by wasn’t sticking around.
  2. Bait them in. Jamie posted on his first day that he scattered bird seeds to bring the birds into the area he wanted to shoot. This works wonders. Fortunately for me, someone else fed the birds and as luck would have it, it was right in front of the parking lot. I was able to park my car sideways, open the door and sit there waiting for the birds to come into my shot. They didn’t all go for the food, but they did venture into the area. This guy didn’t touch the seeds, but popped by to see what all the fuss was about.
  3. Know your gear. I have a decent camera that has great (although not the best) ISO handling, but I treat it as if it is my old Canon Rebel that has horrendous ISO handling. Because of this I am always reluctant to change the ISO from 100 to anything. Towards the end of the day I knocked the camera up to ISO 400, and those shots are significantly sharper because my telephoto likes light and likes to shoot faster. Not to mention birds move, sometimes ever so little, but enough to blur the shot if you are not shooting fast enough.

I used my Canon 7D Mark 1 with a Sigma 80-400mm F4-5.6 lens, shooting at 1/200, F7.1, with an ISO setting of 200. It was an sunny day when the shot was taken and the birds where hanging out in some trees and around the seeds on the ground.

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