As I posted earlier, you can use a smartphone with your guide’s scope to get a shot of a bird you can’t find with your own camera. Some people take the art of digiscoping to a much higher level and buy gadgets to attach a smartphone to a scope like this one.
I don’t recommend attaching your adaptor to a guide’s scope unless you have hired a private guide as it’s not fair to the others in your group. You could always buy your own scope but they are not cheap!
Here’s how the pros do it.
One of the reasons I don’t take more photos is the sheer weight of my Canon DSLR and the 100-400mm lens! It kills my neck and if I shift it to my shoulder, my back starts getting sore. So I ordered one of these and it really does keep the weight more evenly distributed.
As I was reminiscing about our trip to Cristalino back in 2012, I was thinking about the one photo op that got away. As we were on top of the Canopy Tower, our guide (we were put with 6 other tourists) managed to get a rare Hawk-headed Parrot in his scope view. It was REALLY far away, nestled in one tree out of a million trees. The guide had seen him fly in and had very keen eye sight and was able to locate the bird which seemed like a miracle to me. I lined up with the other people in the group to have a look through the scope which actually gave a decent view of the parrot. Of course I wanted a photo but try as I might, I just couldn’t find the exact tree with that bird! All the trees were blurred into each other in a sea of green.
What I didn’t know back then, but found out in a later trip to Costa Rica is that I could have used my iPhone to get a photo of the bird through the scope. I had seen professional photographers attaching their DSLRs to a scope but had never thought about putting a smart phone up to one. In Costa Rica, even normal tourists (as opposed to dedicated birders) like to see Resplendent Quetzals. Most of them only had standard point & shoot cameras incapable of getting a good shot of a Quetzal in a distant tree so they were holding their small cameras or smartphones up to the guide’s scope! The photos won’t be great but at least you have SOMETHING!
In case you find yourself in this situation, here is how it’s done.
I have one of these but it isn’t strong enough for my Canon 60D & 100-400mm zoom lens. They’re good for smart phone cameras though!
Some of you may have heard of a “Hail Mary pass” such as it is used in football. What you may not know is that bird photographers also have their “Hail Mary photos” where you basically point your camera at a tiny speck in the sky or a clump of bushes and pray! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Mary was kind to me in South Africa where that tiny speck in Satara Restcamp turned out to be a Brown-headed Parrot.
In Ghana, Mary seemed to be not listening as my prayers in Kakum National Park (trying for African Grey Parrots) and University/Botanical Gardens area in Accra (Red-fronted Parrots) went unanswered as the birds stayed in the bushes and I just barely missed my shots.
A pair of African Grey Parrots had flown just beyond these trees and I glimpsed them through the open spaces but I was too slow to get a photo.
Red-fronted Parrots frustratingly close but refusing to come out and be photographed.
Finally, in Shai Hills, Mary took pity on me and my prayers were answered as some Senegal Parrots zoomed over head.
Point the camera and say a Hail Mary, this time she answered me with these Senegal Parrots!
If you are ever in this situation, and if you get into birding you probably will be, I’d say go for it! Maybe Mary will be benevolent to you too!
This is a really cool wildlife photography online magazine. It caught my eye because this issue features Madagascar. Although I got some decent bird and lemur photos, I didn’t get any of chameleons. They are just one more reason people love to visit Madagascar!
Due to copyright I can’t reproduce it here.
Click here to see magazine.
This is my resurrected weekly series in which I will introduce a professional photographer who specializes in bird/wildlife photography. I hope that you will be inspired by their work! Mehd is not only an extremely talented photographer, he is also a personal friend of mine, I just wish I had half his talent!
Mehd used to work as a manager at Volvo, but now works as the program director for World Parrot Trust in Indonesia. He is also working for Begawan Foundation with breeding Bali Starlings and managing their breeding station in central Bali.
He has been interested in birds since he was a little boy, growing up in Morocco.
We work with Canon cameras and Canon or Sigma lenses.
Camera: Canon 50D.
Lenses: Canon 100-400 IS USM, Sigma 105/2.8 Macro, Canon APO Teleconverter 1.4x EX, Sigma APO Teleconverter 2.0x EX
Flash: Canon Speedlite 540EZ
To protect his copyright, I will highlight some of the galleries on his website, please use the links below.
Arfak Mountains (My trip report)
There are more galleries in the Bird Photos tab.
Mehd also has some amazing photos on the World Parrot Trust – Sweden Facebook page
This is an older feature I have resurrected. Each week, I will highlight a gallery of superb bird photography by a professional photographer. I am hoping to provide inspiration both for eco-travel and for us to improve our photography skills.
This week, I am showcasing the gallery of Ralph Paonessa. I was attracted to his hummingbird photos. These tiny little flying jewels are some of the most difficult birds to photograph, especially in motion! Ralph has it all figured out and not only does he have some beautiful galleries, he also has some tips to help us try to photograph hummingbirds. I wish I had seen them before I went to Central America! His work is copyrighted so please do enjoy them on his website!
This is an older feature I am resurrecting. Each week, I will highlight a gallery of superb bird photography by a professional photographer. I am hoping to provide inspiration both for eco-travel and for us to improve our photography skills.
This week, I am showcasing the gallery and blog of Bill Majoros. He hails from North Carolina and his website has a really cool name – Third Bird from the Sun. Since his work is copyrighted, please enjoy his superb photography on his website. He also has a free instructional manual to download, not that I could hope to be as good as he is!
I came across this video on Youtube with a very interesting comparison between the Tamron 150-600 f/5-f/6.3 with other lenses such as Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L & 400mm f/5.6 prime. I have both the Canon lenses but I find myself using the zoom lens a lot more since I need to go wide to locate the bird in the sky or a tree, then zoom in on him. The prime lens doesn’t allow for that. I really have to admire the physical strength of the photographer in this video, that Tamron weighs 1951 g (4.30 lb)! By comparison, the Canon 100-400 zoom weighs 1380 g (3.04 lb) and it’s already hard enough for me to hold more than a few seconds! More specs on this lens can be found in DPreview.