• Blackburnian Warbler

Traverse Woods: Donna Fano

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Camera: Nikon D7200
Lens: Nikkor AF-S @ 300 mm
Settings: ISO: 250; F/6.3; 1/800 sec; 

The photography outing arranged by Ian Dickinson on Saturday, May 11 to Traverse Woods (near the birding banding station at Traverse Point) proved to be a very valuable learning experience for me. He arranged the outings in groups of 6 so he could spend time assisting each of us in our camera settings and hints for shooting. This was the best camera experience I ever had and hope to go again next year to more outings like this. The proceeds from the registered participants went to the bird banding station.

I sold my Swarovski telescope last year to buy a better Nikon SLR camera, a D7200 and a 70mm-300mm ED Nikkor AF-S lens. I found the new camera to be more convenient in taking photos and much less weight to carry around than a camera connected to a telescope.  Ian gave me suggestions which camera to buy so I could still use my lens from my old D80 Nikon purchased in 2008.  There are many new Nikons out there that are not compatible with the older lenses.

The settings I was shown to use to take photos of birds was Aperture on the main dial and single centre autofocus from the options of autofocus.  This worked very well for shooting through branches quickly. I would have wasted much time using the manual focus for each bird.

The ISO setting suggestion was to use Auto ISO so the camera could adjust to the lighting.  Also, I used +.7 exposure on a bright day when shooting against the sky. You need to check your photos to make sure you have the right setting for that day.

Use the burst setting so you can take several photos at once as birds are quick and won’t pose for you. It is more work to sort the photos afterwards, but it is worth it because you will get at least one acceptable photo. Hold your breath and be still as you can while you are shooting.

I wore transition glasses that day but wished I had used my normal glasses instead. The colours from the transition affected my perception of the birds and made everything darker while looking through the viewfinder.

Make sure you bring extra memory cards as mine got filled quickly; luckily, I had another camera which I retrieved the extra memory card from.

I was amazed that you could take a photo of a bird far away and still get a sharp photo by cropping it. I thought it would be hopeless to get a good sharp photo due to the distance and may not to be able to identify it until you zoom in the image on the computer.

I’m very pleased with the warblers and other birds I photographed.  Some I had never heard of like the Northern Parula, and Palm & Cape May Warblers. I took about 400 photos in the three hours I was there.

Thanks Ian, for sharing your expertise with us!
Donna Fano (Photo-Nat member since 2004)

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