Friday, February 10, 2006

San Diego Bird Festival 1

After five and a half hours behind the wheel in great driving conditions, I pulled into Marina Village Conference Center, registered for the San Diego Bird Festival and belatedly joined the digiscoping class. That technique involves combining a digital camera, usually a point-and-shoot model, with a spotting scope to take photographs of far-off birds. (A digiscoping article appears in the July/August 2005 issue of WildBird.)

Bruce Webb for Swarovski and Stephen Ingraham of Zeiss described the basics of digiscoping, which Stephen clarified as the process of taking a picture of the image in the spotting scope’seyepiece, not taking a picture while using the scope as a telephoto lens.

Stephen also extolled the benefits of the activity, which has gained momentum in the last four years or so. “Becoming a digiscoper turns a slow birding day into a great day,” he said, because good images can make up for a low diversity of species.

“Digiscoping allows the average person to do what we’ve always wanted: to take that frame-filling photo of what we see in the field,” Stephen said.

The frame-filling photo comes from finding the right combination of products, which Stephen and Bruce discussed. They demonstrated cameras, camera adapters and brackets, spotting scopes, and tripods. They offered camera and scope recommendations and discussed remote shutter releases, megapixels, storage needs and photo editing software.

They also recommended reading the archives for the digiscopingbirds listserv on Yahoo. The group began in more than three years ago, so the archives contain considerable information that’ll benefit beginners.

The two-hour class included many questions from the attendees, who asked for more details after the class’s conclusion. That’s when I enjoyed this view from the sidewalk deck toward the setting sun. Don’t you wish you were here?

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