Category Archives: Digiscoping

Bempton Revisited

by Justin Carr

The Sun was shining there was a stiff inshore breeze ideal conditions I thought for getting up close and personal with the breeding Seabird spectacle at Bempton RSPB.

Gannet

Gannet

On a inshore wind the Gannets just hang in the wind just above the cliff before landing great for Digiscoping flight shots

On a inshore wind the Gannets just hang in the wind just above the cliff before landing great for Digiscoping flight shots

Gannets

Gannets

Gannet

Gannet

Guillemot

Guillemot

Puffin

Puffin

All images taken with a Panasonic GH3 on a SWAROVSKI 80 with a 30x wide.                              Good Digiscoping!!

DIGISCOPING MAJESTIC GANNETS

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannets are one of my favourite subjects to digiscope, so a trip was taken to bempton cliffs a GREAT place to get up close and personal with these majestic birds

something a little different

something a little different

All image’s taken with a Panasonic GH3 on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30x wide.                                Good Digiscoping.

 

BINS V SCOPE

  Justin Carr

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens through a pair of SWAROVSKI EL 8.5x42

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens through a pair of SWAROVSKI EL
8.5×42

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30X wide

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30X wide

As is often the case at this time of the year birding can be hard work but being a digiscoper there is always a subject to shoot. recentley a friend and i payed a visit to Old moor RSPB, other than the usual breeding birds was a cracking drake Garganey, after scoping it i set the camera up on the scope to practice on flight shots of the breeding Black headed gulls. after getting a few shots i thought it would be a good idea to try the camera though my friends SWAROVSKI  ELs, the eyecups fits well into the panasonic f1.7mm lens. quite happy for a first attempt, so i would say GIVE IT A GO!!                                                                                              HAPPY DIGISCOPING.

Magpie close-ups….

Justin Carr

Young ‘Dinosaur’ bears it’s teeth….

 

During a recent visit to Blacktoft Sands I came across this young Magpie

Juvenile Magpie at Blacktoft © Justin Carr 2014

Juvenile Magpie at Blacktoft © Justin Carr 2014

It then decided to bear its teeth…..

Juvenile Magpie at Blacktoft Sands © Justin Carr 2014

Juvenile Magpie at Blacktoft Sands © Justin Carr 2014

Something I hadn’t previously noticed on a bird!

Good digiscoping

Justin

Digi-scoping Light

 

Digiscoping is an aspect of photography that is as popular as ever. Here’s a cheaper, light weight approach in regard especially to adaptor that produces very satisfactory results.

Bluethroat, Kazakhstan. Shaun Robson

Bluethroat, Kazakhstan. Shaun Robson

Shaun Robson

(all photos digiscoped by Shaun Robson)

Since the early days of digital cameras Birders have been experimenting with the best way to get good shots through their telescopes. Fifteen years on and we now see the amazing flight shots that Justin Carr is taking.

 

The great thing about birding and digi-scoping is that there are many ways to gain satisfaction. Whilst some use the latest camera formats and specially designed brackets to get superb images of birds which are well beyond that of a regular DSLR when distances are involved, there are no doubt many, like me, who want to try and use regular kit, which is cheap and light weight. This short piece hopefully describes an alternative approach which, with practice, can deliver some acceptable results. Enhancing and not distracting from day to day birding.

The Kit

The Kit

In 2010 I started using a Canon Powershot S90 with my Swarovski ATS 65 with 30x wide angle fixed lens. I recently changed my telescope  to the fabulous ATX 85 with its 25-60x zoom. Shortly after, I changed the camera to the Canon Powershot S110. It’s early days with S110 but I am not yet convinced that I have really gained anything. Thankfully my partner’s using the old S90 so I can still borrow it from her if the need arises! The Powershot’s have the essential facility to store custom settings. This means that you can switch it on and have the zoom you want, the focus and exposure mode, ISO setting etc. This is a real help in trying to capture that unexpected moment. It also saves time wasting removing vignetting and fiddling with the huge number of variables that modern cameras present.

Northern Harrier, Vancouver, Canada, 2012

Northern Harrier, Vancouver, Canada, 2012

 

The key factor which reduces the weight, does not interfere with regular scope use and eases pressure on the bank balance is the method “connecting” the camera to the scope. A plastic piece of pipe crafted to fit is all that it takes! Having taken several key measurements I bought the closest fit from my local DIY store and with a little bit work in garage I had the perfect light weight “adaptor” for £1.09.

 

Connector ring on camera

Connector ring on camera

Connector ring on scope

Connector ring on scope

The vital statistics are the internal diameter of your telescope eyepiece with the eye cup extended. The external diameter of the lens on your camera when set to the zoom you intend to use. The latter needs to fit inside the former to give the necessary stability and ensure perfect alignment. The depth of the tube can be achieved with a bit of trial and error. Estimating it is easy, it’s the distance the camera is from the eyepiece which produces no vignetting. Best to over-estimate and then reduce the depth of the tube till you reach perfection.  You might be lucky and find the perfect pipe that requires little or no work. Otherwise a good file and some sandpaper will soon produce the finished article.

Snowy Owl, Vancouver

Snowy Owl, Vancouver

 

The Method

Given that this method involves holding the camera to the scope, minimising shake is critical. I therefore prefer an angled eyepiece on the scope. This allows me to set the scope up with a low centre of gravity by only partially extending the legs of the tripod. When I am really trying to get a decent shot (as opposed to firing off a few record shots of a just found goodie) then I also spread the legs wide to provide even more stability. The plastic ring means that when you present the camera to the eyepiece the picture should be ready to take and should be centred perfectly with no room for movement. Holding the camera completely still requires practice but it won’t take long before you find out what works for you. I no longer use a shutter release. I tried but it was just too fiddly and took more effort than it was worth.

 

Lapland Bunting Finland

Lapland Bunting Finland

Make sure that the scope is sharply focused on the bird before you present the camera. The beauty of this technique is that if the bird moves, removing the camera and refocussing takes a second.

 

Guldenstadtts Redstart

Guldenstadtts Redstart

In my experience talking to other birders, too many are tempted by too much zoom on either the scope or the camera (or both!). My best shots are achieved when I minimise both. With my current equipment I shoot at 30x on the scope (to prevent vignetting) and 50mm equivalent on the camera. This allows the maximisation of shutter speed which is of course the other key ingredient in reducing shake and an un-sharp or even blurred image. You can always crop on the computer when the pictures are downloaded. The Smew in the attached picture was more than 150m away yet after cropping a reasonable record shot of a rare patch visitor was achieved. It would have been easy to take a picture with the bird filling more of the camera screen but I know that getting anything even approaching acceptable would have been nigh on impossible in late afternoon January light.

Smew, Lytchett Bay, Dorset, Jan 2014

Smew, Lytchett Bay, Dorset, Jan 2014

I always set the camera to take the biggest file sizes this side of RAW, as I don’t understand RAW. I keep the ISO at 100 whenever I can but increase to as much as 400 in poor light. I set the auto focus to centre or spot whichever the camera allows, this increases the chances of the camera focusing on the bird and not the vegetation, especially when you operating over a greater distance. Following advice from other digiscopers I use the aperture priority setting, by always selecting the smallest f number I can achieve the fastest shutter speed. Given the often dull weather in Britain my custom setting is to over expose by 1 stop. On the Canon this can easily be adjusted when necessary but I find that more often than not this setting produces brighter and better images.

Steller's Eider Varanger

Steller’s Eider Varanger

 

Here in this article are few shots taken over the last 4 years at home and abroad. Whether you are after some beautiful pictures of birds or simple record shots for your Patch Watch Challenge I hope this technique is of interest and some help. Happy digi-scoping.

 

Red-rumped Swallows. Spain

Red-rumped Swallows. Spain

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Stijn de Win for introducing me to concept of “connector rings” in Thailand in 2009.

 

Shaun Robson

Dorset

 Black-winged Stilt, Lytchett Bay, Dorset, May 2014


Black-winged Stilt, Lytchett Bay, Dorset, May 2014

Surf Scoter, Vancouver, Canada, 2012

Surf Scoter, Vancouver, Canada, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Some photos from a recent trip to Georgia (Eurasia)

Justin Carr

Georgia produces some great birds

 

Some scenic shots

Mountains above Stepantsminda, Georgia © Justin Carr 2014

Mountains above Stepantsminda, Georgia © Justin Carr 2014

Mountain in the Kazbegi Range © Justin Carr 2014

Mountain in the Kazbegi Range © Justin Carr 2014

JC G Above Stepantsminda 2 (1 of 1)

 

Davit Gareja Monastery © Justin Carr 2014

Davit Gareja Monastery © Justin Carr 2014

Davit Gareja Monastery © Justin Carr 2014

Davit Gareja Monastery © Justin Carr 2014

Habitat around Ananuri

 

Some of the birds in Kazbegi in the north of the country

Great Rosefinch © Justin Carr 2014

Great Rosefinch © Justin Carr 2014

White-winged (Guldenstadt's) Redstart © Justin Carr 2014

White-winged (Guldenstadt’s) Redstart © Justin Carr 2014

Eastern Imperial Eagle © Justin Carr 2014

Eastern Imperial Eagle © Justin Carr 2014

Lammergeier over Stepantsminda © Justin Carr 2014

Lammergeier over Stepantsminda © Justin Carr 2014

Ortolan Bunting in the Sno Valley © Justin Carr 2014

Ortolan Bunting in the Sno Valley © Justin Carr 2014

Red-throated Pipit above Stepantsminda © Justin Carr 2014

Red-throated Pipit above Stepantsminda © Justin Carr 2014

Another shot of the same Red-throated Pipit © Justin Carr 2014

Another shot of the same Red-throated Pipit © Justin Carr 2014

One of thousands of Water Pipits seen © Justin Carr 2014

One of thousands of Water Pipits seen © Justin Carr 2014

Steppe Eagle moving towards the pass © Justin Carr 2014

Steppe Eagle moving towards the pass © Justin Carr 2014

A Pallid Harrier approaching the pass © Justin Carr 2014

A Pallid Harrier approaching the pass © Justin Carr 2014

Male Rock Thrush in the Sno Valley © Justin Carr 2014

Male Rock Thrush in the Sno or should it be the Rain Valley © Justin Carr 2014

Rock Bunting in the Sno Valley © Justin Carr 2014

Rock Bunting in the Sno Valley © Justin Carr 2014

One of many thousands of Blue-headed Wagtails seen during the trip © Justin Carr 2014

One of many thousands of Blue-headed Wagtails seen during the trip © Justin Carr 2014

A video grab of a Wallcreeper south of the pass © Justin Carr 2014

A video grab of a Wallcreeper south of the pass © Justin Carr 2014

Some of the birds at Davit Gareja area in the south of the country

Male Black-eared Wheatear © Justin Carr 2014

Male Black-eared Wheatear © Justin Carr 2014

Female Black-eared Wheatear © Justin Carr 2014

Female Black-eared Wheatear © Justin Carr 2014

Western Rock Nuthatch © Justin Carr 2014

Western Rock Nuthatch © Justin Carr 2014

Rock Sparrow © Justin Carr 2014

Rock Sparrow © Justin Carr 2014

Blue Rock Thrush at Cave town near Davit Gareja © Justin Carr 2014

Blue Rock Thrush at Cave town near Davit Gareja © Justin Carr 2014

 

Miscellaneous birds elsewhere

Armenian Gull © Justin Carr 2014

Armenian Gull © Justin Carr 2014

Middle Spotted Woodpecker © Justin Carr 2014

Middle Spotted Woodpecker © Justin Carr 2014

Long-legged Buzzard © Justin Carr 2014

Long-legged Buzzard © Justin Carr 2014

Penduline Tit © Justin Carr 2014

Penduline Tit © Justin Carr 2014

White-tailed Eagle © Justin Carr 2014

White-tailed Eagle © Justin Carr 2014

A party of White-winged Black Terns © Justin Carr 2014

A party of White-winged Black Terns © Justin Carr 2014

White-winged Black Tern © Justin Carr 2014

White-winged Black Tern © Justin Carr 2014

All the above were taken using a Panasonic GH3 with a 20mm pancake lens through a Swarovski 80 scope with a 30x wide angle lens. All in all Georgia was a great trip with lots of great birds and visible migration, some cracking scenery and hospitable people. I would thoroughly recommend the place. ————–