Archive for September 17th, 2010

Many years ago I remember reading an article by the late Galen Rowell about photographers knowing their limitations. I always interpreted this to mean that knowing your limitations could aid creative vision. Further to this, Canadian photographer David duChemin’s (Pixelated Image) phrase “gear is good, vision is better” is solid advice and Darwin Wiggett’s recent column in Outdoor Photography Canada’s Fall/Winter issue is a must read for anyone wishing to upgrade their gear. Links to both of these photographers can be found on my blogroll.

Today our limitations could be gear-related, physical or even monetary. Having a young daughter keeps me very close to home, so last winter I decided to construct a blind for backyard, songbird imagery. Everyday when my daughter would have her nap, I would head out to the blind, baby monitor in tow, and photograph songbirds for a couple of hours. On several days, it was dark, overcast and snowy. Since I am still shooting with, and a tad embarrassed to admit it, a Nikon D200, I do not have the luxury of cranking up the ISO to capture a razor-sharp image of birds in flight on days like these and my main lens for wildlife is the pathetically, slow focusing 80-400 VR lens. These limitations steered me towards being a little more creative, shooting intentional blurs of songbirds taking flight from perches. Capturing a pleasing blur is not as easy as it sounds, but it is fun to play around with various shutter speeds and see what transpires. Of all the blurs I shot last winter I kept only two images – the above Black-capped Chickadee image and another that has been submitted to Audubon’s “Birds in Focus” competition. This Black-capped Chickadee was shot at ISO200 @ 1/60 sec.

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