« on: August 29, 2014, 10:18:28 AM »
Ok, my recent vacation to southern England has showed me how much fun I have shooting birds, so I want to get more deeply into it. I think my camera and lens (7D+70-300L) are sufficient for my needs right now. My question is about accessories.
Do you use a tripod/monopod/shoot handheld and why do you do that?
All of the above! It depends on the situation, what I want to carry, what I am carrying, etc.
Monopod is great for traveling light.
Tripod is the best stability, but not nearly so light
Handheld is the lightest, but with a large lens, not so easy to keep steady.
In case of tripod/monopod which pod/head combo are you using?
Tripod: With a large lens (I use it with a 100-400), a gimbal is a great option. When properly adjusted, the camera & lens "float" in perfect balance, so it takes little effort to move, and it stays where you put it.
Monopod: Probably best with a monopod head that only has one adjusting axis.
I'm not a huge ballhead fan, especially for long focal lengths. I find that the advantages of rapid adjustment and (almost) infinite number of positions is outweighed by a lack of precision (getting it exactly where I want it) and repeatability. But others swear by them.
Are you using any sort of camouflage?
If yes, what type, a blind, a throwover or something like a ghillie suit?
I have some camoflage jackets in one of the Realtree patterns. Im many cases, simply wearing drab clothing that somewhat mimics your surroundings is fine. A solid green or tan jacket & pants work ok in many situations. Shun team colors, anything bright (with the exception of so-called "Hunter" orange for safety). No real need to be shelling out for expensive camo clothing unless you're really going "into the bush".
As for blinds, many different things will work. Even a car. I go to a couple wildlife refuges that have auto tour roads, and you can often get pretty close to skittish avians just by rolling up in the car slowly. I've gotten many great shots that way. I know a guy who built a "shed on wheels" that he can roll around his backyard to photograph birds. So long as they can't see you as a predator, they'll go about their business.
And I can't overstate the importance of patience. There's a turnout on one of the auto tours I frequent that gets a lot of sparrows & warblers. Soon as you pull up, thy scatter, but, if I shut off the car and wait 10-20 minutes, they come back, and pretty much ignore the car.
Some birds will always be a challenge, though!
I have a Leica Ultravid 8x32, is that sufficient for my needs in the field?Binoculars? Sounds like they'll be fine. I tend to prefer 10x, as that more closely resembles the view at 400mm with my 7D. I've got a pair of Nikon 10x binoculars, and they're fine for me, but I don't think I'd trade Leica for Nikon! You may also want to think about investing in a set with larger objectives. An 8x40 gathers more light than an 8x32, and is easier to see with in the often dim light of forests.
Questions about questions, but I appreciate every answer and am looking forward to the insights in your technique! Thanks!You're gonna want a longer lens. 400mm is about "entry level" for birds, though 300 can be good at times. I started out with a 70-300, but went to a 100-400 very quickly.
Here is an excellent online reference. Secrets of Digital Bird Photography. (http://www.digitalbirdphotography.com/windows/cover.html)