Archive for December 3rd, 2010


12/3/2010: Sandhills 4, intimacy

Digiscoping allows you to get intimate with birds, especially something as big as a Sandhill Crane, while maintaining enough distance so you do not actually intrude on the bird. This was taken from Coyote Deck at Bosque del Apache NWR in NM. The refuge managers flooded this field on Friday to provide close views of Cranes and Geese for the Saturday crowds at the Festival of the Cranes…and it worked. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings Sandhills and Geese fed within 50 yards of the deck.

This, of course, is about what you would see through a spotting scope at high power, or at least, given the differences in the way we see things in a photograph, it gives that visual impression. The actual equivalent focal length of the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-45x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL was in the 2200mm range. Warm morning light from over my shoulder (which is what, imho, gives these images their character) gave an exposure of 1/400th at ISO 125, and the 4 fps sequential shooting allowed me to catch the feeding action.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom (see page link above).

This last one is across the refuge in late afternoon/evening light. The crane was further out, and I had to push the limits of both the scope and the camera to get this close. Camera at full zoom and scope at something over 50x. This is not an ideal combination for digiscoping, primarily because such high magnification (something in the 5000mm range) magnifies the shimmer and the waver in the air at any distance just as much as it does the bird, and because tiny motions of the camera and scope (caused by wind, passing traffic, my touch, etc.) are enough to destroy the sharpness of the image. This one is pretty good, but a careful eye will see the effects of too high power at too great a distance. Still a keeper though, just for the personality of the calling bird, if nothing else. 🙂

And I think that concludes my series on Sandhills. You may see a random image from here on out, but there will not be a Sandhills 5. (I might have my fingers crossed behind my back…and if you wait a year I can almost guarantee I will break that promise after my next Bosque adventure.)