Sunday, June 28, 2009

Watching the Wrens - An Easy Digiscoping Subject

For some time now we've had the necessary equipment for digiscoping. It's the practice of taking images with a point-and-shoot digital camera through a spotting scope. Many people have produced some very impressive images this way. I don't know how they do it.

In the field I've tried two approaches and both have proven frustrating and ineffecive. In Method A I start with the camera attached to the scope and try to locate the subject using the lcd screen on the back. Reflections off the screen make it difficult to tell what I'm looking at. The small size of the screen doesn't help much with making sure things are in focus. In Method B I start with the camera off the scope, get the subject in the field of view and in focus. I then quickly fasten the camera rig--which resembles the aparatus that imobilizes the accident victim's head in pretty much any television show--onto the scope. At this point the weight of the camera causes the tripod to move and/or the scope to tilt enough that the subect is no longer in view if it hasn't actually just flown off to find a better photographer.

Recently I set up the equipment to do an easy shot. On our deck, under the umbrella there wasn't as much glare on the lcd screen. The subject, the wren house in the garden, was stationary and about 50 feet away. I set the camera to shoot video clips and used an infrared remote to start and stop it. Here's one of the clips I got:

5 Responses:

Sunita said...

They're really active little birds aren't they?
I know just how frustrating it is when you're trying to get something to work and it just refuses to.
If you want, you could try contacting Amila over at Gallicissa ( for tips. He's got some amazing photos of birds which he gets by using the digiscope.
Happy digiscoping!

Dale Forbes said...

digiscoping definitely requires a steep learning curve and lots and lots of practice. I find that if I don't really stretch myself with my digiscoping for a few weeks, I end up rusty and not as quick at getting on to and photographing subjects.

Try having a look at some of these posts:

as you scroll down, near the bottom of the page, you will find a couple of posts entitled "Great places to practice digiscoping". You might find something useful or encouraging there.

Your video is really great - nice and stable and shows lots of cool action. very nice! Please consider adding it to the Digiscoping Today meme on my blog.

The darker edges to the video suggest that the camera's distance from the scope ocular is not quite right (there should be a clean black rim of vignetting, not a progressively darker shadow). Try shifting the camera forward and back a bit. Oh, and are you using macro mode to help you focus?

Happy digiscoping

Shady Character said...

Sunita - Amila's blog is fantastic! I've added it to my list of feeds.

Dale - Thanks for reminding me of those posts. I think, apart from getting a new tripod, I really just need to spend a lot more time with the equipment. At this point I don't even notice the subtleties like the vignetting at the edges. If only I had more free time!

Dale Forbes said...

the trick is to not lose heart. and to just enjoy it. digiscoping and birding for me are just [great] excuses to get out and enjoy nature. its all about appreciation. most of the time I take shoddy shots. it doesnt matter, I still have a lovely time taking lousy shots. and the more lousy shots I take the fewer lousy shots I take. if that makes any sense at all.

Gallicissa said...

95% of the time I use method B. For moving subjects such as waders, the method A works for me better.

Practice, Patience and Perseverance are the keys to success.