Photography Tips

My New Groundpod

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Lately I’ve been hand-holding the Beast a lot, so that I can lie down and photograph birds at eye level.  This technique has been paying off well with the Sandhill Crane babies (more on that tomorrow!)  To see what I’m talking about, look at the two images below.  The first was taken while I was kneeling on the sand.  Look at the cluttered water behind the bird – I wasn’t low enough.  The second image was taken while I was lying on the sand, supporting the Beast with my left hand while clicking the shutter with my right hand.  See how the background is a beautiful creamy blue?   That’s why I wanted a groundpod. What’s a groundpod?  Well, it’s a tripod that’s made to go on the ground.  Sure, you can splay your tripod legs and get the same effect, but that can be very awkward to move the tripod when you are belly-crawling in the sand at the beach.  Not to mention that it’s annoying to get all that sand in your tripod!  A groundpod is a low flat support that you can attach your gimbal head to.  That way you can lie on the sand and rely […]

Photography Tips

Fixing an Off-Camera Flash Cord

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Lately I’ve been frustrated by my flash not firing, or firing incorrectly. For example, when I first saw the male Painted Bunting at Circle B Bar Reserve, the flash over-fired and I got a completely white image. Not exactly what I was expecting! I know the off-camera flash cords are finicky, but mine is fairly new, and I’ve been taking really good care of it. So I started to troubleshoot and figured out what my problem was and how to fix it. So I’ll write about what I learned in case someone else has a similar problem… I noticed that the flash was able to communicate with the camera when the camera was pointed up, but not when the camera was straight in front of me or pointed down. (Hence the mis-firings…intermittent communication between the camera body and the flash will do that!) The flash rocked back and forth in the off-camera rig, and I found I could hold it straight and make it work. So how to fix it? I wondered if there were screws loose someone in the attachment between the flash and the off-camera cord. It made sense to me that the connection would gradually pull loose, […]

Beyond the Backyard

Tip for Photographing Little Birds in Leafy Trees

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I photographed this White-Eyed Vireo this weekend on the Alligator Alley trail of the Circle B Bar Reserve. I used fill flash to illuminate him deep within a tree. I recently started training myself to use a new technique for focusing on these little birds who love to flit in and out of small trees. Using autofocus can be challenging, as the camera often chooses the leaf or branch in front of the bird as its autofocus point, leaving the bird nice and fuzzy in the shot. I set up my Canon 7D camera to allow me to push the * button to freeze the focus. Now I get the focus where I want it, then leave my thumb on the * button as I take my picture. Fewer fuzzy birds!It’s getting to be second nature to do this, although I suspect it’s easier on a tripod than if I was hand-holding.