Technical: Olympus, 1/40 sec, f2.8, focal length 5mm

At first I thought this was one of my shots. But it is David (son). His image of grandpa is distorted in a different way. Grandpa’s forehead is larger and enhanced by the receding hairline. The face and mouth are smaller as they are farther from the wide angle perspective. I am certain that David loves his grandparents and did this unintentionally so that I could make these observations.

David Grandma

Technical: Olympus, 1/45 sec, f2.8, focal length 5mm

Here perspective is really distorted. I apologize because Grandma does not look this way. She is too close to the camera and her nose is disproportionate. David is back and less distorted. It’s not flattering but it does show you the problem with wide angle distortion.


David Grandma

Technical: Olympus, 1/70 sec, f2.8, focal length 5mm

Another camera point and shoot trick is to take your own picture. You simply extend your hand and shoot. You can see David’s left shoulder extending. He was traveling with his grandmother in Europe. And they met one of his friends, who happened to be traveling in the same city. It was a random meeting, I think (you never know). Anyway back to perspective. The closer subject will be larger – David. The distortion is not too bad. It does preserve a nice memory.

Julia Zebra

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/250 sec, f8, focal length 55mm

This is another trick I learned from Julia and David. With point and shoot cameras, some of the tricks they know are hilarious. David did it in South America and here Julia demonstrates in Africa. Perspective is an interesting concept. I admit to manipulating the image for the final result. But here, one holds out their hand and the photographer lines up the distant subject (zebra). Done right it looks like you are holding a very large animal in your hand. I have seen this done much better by both kids.


Technical: Nikon D200, 1/250 sec, f5, focal length 135mm

The king around the feeder for me is the cardinal. Its red color is majestic. The blue jay and the cardinal were most skittish. They would land for a moment and be gone almost before I could react. I began to keep an eye on the nearby trees. The bird would sit among the cover and get courage to fly to the open feeder. I began to anticipate when they would swoop in. Voila! I got a cardinal in mid swoop. The feeder was in the open because the squirrels would climb and/or leap from any nearby branch to cling to the feeder and clean it out in minutes. There was even a cover on the post to prevent the squirrels access by climbing up the post.


Technical: Nikon D200, 1/1000 sec, f5, focal length 150mm                     Technical: Nikon D200, 1/1000 sec, f5, focal length 150mm

Timing is everything. This is a female snowy woodpecker. It has no red on the back of its head. I got her landing, not too bad. And, five frames later, she flew away. I really missed the critical moment of hovering. I admit I did have my finger on the motor drive. In five frames the beginning and end were ok but not great. I will also say that I was not sitting behind the camera for hours. I was editing images and would look up to catch the action. The birds were not active every moment. There seemed to be periods early in the morning and at around 4PM when there was a lot of action. During the afternoon and around lunchtime there was sporadic activity but not continuous. With the tripod and the camera pre focused it only took a moment to try to dial in critical focus. Some of the shots were just made as I saw the activity pick up. Once more I make the point that the motor drive is helpful but not always.


Technical: Nikon D200, 1/1000 sec, f5, focal length 150mm

I want to make a couple of points here – color and focal length. The day is grey. The subtle brown tones don’t add much contrast. So the purple finches red heads add a spot of color. (Yes, I know I said red. The guidebook identifies them as purple finches.) The focal length is medium at 150mm. I would have tried 400mm but this would have been too much work. You can’t anticipate movement and motion well. By the time you swing the camera around you have missed the action. By the way, I am on manual focus and shutter priority. VR is turned off on the tripod. If you don’t turn off VR the motor in the lens will hunt and kill your battery life. Here is where custom settings are necessary.

Birds in Fight

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/500 sec, f5, focal length 160mm

I was getting pretty good shots. So now experiment. It’s about pushing the limits and seeing what you can do. This image was shot at 1/500. I even went to 1/2000. The image at this point (1/2000) crossed over with unacceptable noise. But I think that 1/500 or 1/1000 is about right. The nicest images are those with the tail feathers spread and the wings in hover position. And it’s better when there is some action going on. Cropping closer, I could delete the feeder and make this more abstract. The noise would probably not be acceptable.


Birds in Flight

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/1000 sec, f5, focal length 145mm

Birds in flight are hard to capture. All the bird guides show the feathered friends perched in some idyllic woodland setting. True, right? It’s pretty hard to see action shots. But we’ve seen plenty of raptors – eagles in flight or that snowy owl flying straight into the camera’s lens. In the series of images I got at the bird feeder I took advantage of the conditions. I knew where they would be and roughly in what focus plane. So I used a tripod and pre focused on one of the screws of the feeder. It worked well enough. But timing is everything. The birds flew in from all directions. Of over 1000 images I got only a handful. Many birds had their wings closed. In others I got just a hint of brown blur as the bird was already into or out of the frame. A motor drive can’t really save you. I did increase the shutter speed to 1/1000. It means that the ISO will rise. The noise is a compromise.

Go Away

Technical: Nikon D200, 1/250 sec, f5, focal length 160mm

Go away! I have spoken of the problems of weather, light, and shooting through window glass. Motion. The slow shutter speed gave motion blur to the wings beating. And the bird in motion is too much for 1/250 to capture sharply even though the birds are roughly in the same plane of focus. The action is the point not detail in the feathers. I immediately set this image aside. Technically it has its faults.