I'm having a weeks holiday in my caravan on Anglesey. The weather has been really rough this week - so much rain - apart from Thursday night - which was beautiful blue skies - so I made the most of it and went over to Cemlyn Bay to see the breeding Sandwich and Common Terns.
It's well known that digiscoping bird in flight shots is very difficultt, but I thought I would give it a try, after trying a few different methods - I managed to get a few sharp shots (from the many blurred ones) This is how I did it:
Using the Olivon T84 EDO scope and DSLR adapter attached to my Canon 600D SLR - the weather was bright - so uisng ISO 400 on the camera I was getting a shutter speed of around 3000s of a second - fast enough to freeze the motion of the flying bird. So the challenge was to get the bird in focus. Terns are not easy birds to photograph in flight - they are very quick - I had more success photographing the bird flying past me rather than flying towards me and away from me - this proved very difficukt to get the focus right as I was constantly having to re-adjust as the bird got closer or moved away. So I positioned myself in a spot where the birds flew past me horizontally from their nests to the sea to find the sand eels.
I focused my scope roughly on the distance between my self and the birds so that just a fine tune of focus on the bird as it flew past was required - I also postioned the scope pointing in their line of flight. The zoom eyepiece was at it's widest setting (20X) to give me the widest field of view to locate the bird. I also used a gimble tripod head - which allows for quick panning and titling of a moving subject. Holding the camera body - so in effect the scope was just like a large tripod mounted telephoto lens - but a manual telephoto lens as your focus is controlled manually by you on the scopes focus wheel- the key to success was to be accurate with the focus wheel on the scope and take lots of pictures.
Take a look at the two shots below - I would estimate I got about 6 sharp shots out of about 70 images - not too bad. To get this method right - you need lots of practice, so I would suggest going to a location where there is a lot of activity - so you can practice for hours - rather than at opportune, few and far between moments.
To sum - up, this is what worked for me:
Good bright weather
DSLR body and DSLR adpter attached to spotting scope
Lots of activity to practice with
Gimble tripod head for panning
Pre focusing on approximate distance of subject
Birds flying horizontal to my location
Maunal focus needs to be quick and accurate on the spotting scope
Continuous shooting mode on camera
08.06.12 | Anglesey Digiscoping
After visiting Anglesey for many years - I finally took the plunge this year and bought a touring caravan and have pitched it long term near to Treaddur Bay, It may not be the most glamourous of holiday homes but it puts me right in the heart of some very rich wildlife coastline, The RSPB reserve of South Stack is just up the road which is host to thousands of nesting seabirds and the rugged coastline just a few hundred yards from my location supports Chuffs, Peregrine, and a whole host of sea birds. It's a digiscopers paradise!
I've recently being playing around with my Olivon T84EDO and a Canon DSLR 600D body - connecting the two via the Olivon DLSR adapter.
Check out this simple video I made below - it's a great example of just how effective digiscoping can be:
Check back soon for more Anglesey updates.
06.10.10 | Photokina Olivon product preview
Just got back from Photokina - working on the Olivon stand - it was a great show - very busy and lots of interest in digiscoping. I've been lucky enough to bring back 3 great new digiscoping products due for release soon for the Olivon T84EDO. First being a very high quality 27x ED eyepiece - which after a short amount of testing time is proving to be a fabulous eyepiece for digiscoping, producing virtually no vignetting with my compact camera. Second is a new Universal digiscoping adapter, it's very sturdy and easy to use and the good news is it fitted every major manufactures scopes at the show - truly universal. Finally for all of you with DSLRs, I've managed to bring back a prototype model for a DSLR photo adapter - this screws on in place of your eyepiece and fits to your DSLR body via a T2 mount. The adapter corrects the image of your scope and positions it perfectly for your DSLR body.
It's an exciting time for digiscoping - please check back soon for full products test on all of the above and sample images. In the mean-time please enjoy the sneak preview video above of these brand new Olivon digiscoping products.
If you own an Olivon T84 EDO prepare yourself for some exceptional digiscoping products coming your way soon...
25.08.10 | broaden your view
I've been experimenting recently with some very nice eyepieces from Optical Hardware The nice feature about the Olivon T84-EDO spotting scope is that you can very easily change the eyepiece which has a standard 1.25" astro fitting. Now the standard 20-60x Olivon zoom eyepiece is a great bit of kit, but it's worth playing with other eyepiece when digiscoping to see what other options are available - I've been using thethe Ostara 20mm Super Wide angle and the Ostara 21mm ED eyeieces from Optical Hardware.These eyepieces give me approx 24x magnification (divide the focal length of your scope, 480mm in the case of the Olivon T84-EDO, by the focal length in mm of the eyepiece, to work out your magnification) which is perfect for digiscoping, and what's even better - the wide angle lens means I get no vignetting on my digital camera even at the widest zoom setting - giving me the full range of my optical zoom on my camera. Also, the Olivon T84-EDO system is still in its early days - with more eyepieces and adapters on the way - I'm getting really excited.
This year I have the great privilege of being at the Olivon stands for the final weekend at Photokina in Germany at the end of September - so when I get back - I'll fill you in with all the details on any new products on the way.
Recently I've been lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to a Badger set just a few hundred yards from their house and every night at around 7.45 the badgers appear and put on a great show. As dusk approaches - the Olivon T84-EDO really does perform well and gives good bright images even in these extreme conditions. Check out my latest video above. This was shot using the Olivon T84-EDO with the Ostara 20mm SWA eyepiece and the Praktica 12HD digital camera.
Please visit soon for a video about using the Ostara 20mm SWA and Ostara 21mm ED eyepiece.
One final note- digiscopediary has become a huge website - far bigger than I ever planned and reaching more people than I ever expected, It's brought me some great opportunities and allowed me access to some fantastic equipment - the time has come for a major overhaul - over the next few months as the darker nights draw in, I'm going to revamp the whole website - so that it's easier to find information - there is also going to be a lot more video tutorials on the site as I think these will be far more helpful than lengthy descriptions. Hopefully this site will become the site to visit for useful digiscoping advice.
19.07.10 | movie magic!
Two new videos posted to YouTube from recent expeditions, first was RSPB Bempton cliffs - my first visit - what an amazing place for getting up close to nesting sea birds - the other filming a family of Mallards in the Lake district - very different videos - but both really fun to digiscope - using the Olivon T84EDO and Praktica Luxmedia 12HD - a really simple set up - works a treat, and with a little time and effort editing the videos - you can make your own mini wildlife documentry!
20.06.10 | spoilt for choice
Spent a glorious weekend in my favourite place - Anglesey
What a weekend, the weather was fantastic and the wildlife even better. We spent the weekend on the north west coast line of Anglesey, near to Holyhead, On the Saturday night, I went for a quick walk with my Canon and 100-400 lens just to check out a short stretch of coastline that I had not explored before. The place was alive - as I strolled through fields of Northern Marsh Orchids, A family of 6 Choughs flew overhead, a Hare stood literally feet in front of me and I discovered a Kestrel nest on the cliff face.
The following morning I returned to the site of the Kestrel nest at 6.00am to do some video digiscoping. It was a great morning, the Chough were still about, I watched young Whitethroats being fed by their parents, a Little Owl being hassled by Stonechats and the Kestrels and Oystercatchers seeing off Ravens.
As I shot the video - rather than just capturing the action, I tried to think how to frame the subject to make the video more appealing to the eye, I love video digiscoping - it's as close as I'll ever get to becoming a wildlife camera man!
That short stretch of coastline supporting so much wildlife - days don't come much better than that, when I arrived home - I immediately sent a donation to the BBC Wild night in fund as I realised just how lucky we are to have such amazing wildlife.
Please see a few images and video below from the weekend:
Northern Marsh Orchid
05.06.10 | capturing spring
Had a good couple of months enjoying spring - had the digiscoping and DSLR gear out. I had a trip to the Irish South coast where I was lucky enough to get close to Gannets diving just off shore.
I've being trying to practice my bird in flight shots recently with DSLR gear - It's a real challenge and most shots are either blurred or no subject in the frame. But on the odd occasion I was lucky and got some sharp images. A recent trip to North Stack on Anglesey gave me another opportunity to photography Sandwich Terns - these birds are fast, very fast - the best method I found was using my Canon 100-400 lens - I started to track the bird with the lens at 100mm then zoomed up to in between 300/400mm before taking the shot.Good light is essential to get fast shutter speeds, the shots below were around 2000's of a second at ISO 200. Using continuous shooting mode, 99% of images were binned! These were the best of the bunch.
I also did a spot of video digiscoping with the Olivon T84 EDO and Praktica Luxmedia 12HD digital camera, I'm finding video digiscoping easier than taking still images as you don't have to worry about shutter speeds - and if your prepared to put the time in - you can edit out any unwanted footage. One big disadvantage which I discovered on the Anglesey coast - is the effect that strong winds can have on video digiscoping - the high magnification increases any camera shake as well as unwanted noise, but unfortunately there is not a lot you can do about it, see my latest video on Youtube by following this link:
It's been a few weeks of testing equipment for me, first was the new Olivon T-84 EDO spotting scope - the latest flagship model from Olivon. More recently, I've been testing out the new Ricoh GXR digital camera - using the S10 lens module - it digiscoped really well and is packed with digiscoping friendly features. Read more here.
I'm still exploring video digiscoping and it's proving to be great fun - as long as you are prepared to do some editing at the end - results can be fantastic- it's a lot more forgiving than normal digiscoping and being able to capture behavior and sound adds a whole new dimension. Search Youtube for digiscoping and you'll find some of my attempts.
The signs of spring are here and this morning I spent a couple of hours out at a local reserve with my DSLR set-up as it had been a while since I used it. Captured a nice image of a Long-tailed Tit collecting nesting material - see below.
Other recent outings have included a day out at RSPB Conway and Leighton Moss - mainly to practice video digiscoping.
05.02.10 | The wait is over!
The Olivon T-84 EDO has arrived.
It's seems like an eternity for me to finally get my hands on the new OLIVON T-84-EDO spotting scope, but it's finally here - and it was worth the wait! Olivon's New flagship spotting scope really is outstanding in terms of both optical quality, design and construction. It's early days in my testing of this product - but it's obvious it's a real winner - it's also compatible with the Olivon Universal digiscoping adapter which is great news for us digiscopers. Over the coming weeks, I will be shooting lots of digital stills and videos through the scope and posting the results on this site. Please visit the Olivon T-84 EDO pages within this site to find out more.
I'm also currently experimenting shooting video through my scopes with a Praktica Luxmedia 12-HD digital compact camera - it's proving to be a great method of digiscoping and I'm getting some nice results - it really does open up a new aspect of wildlife photography - check out my videos posted on you tube from the new video gallery. You can also learn how I shot my digiscoped videos on the video page.
17.01.10 | Capturing the action
At last most of the snow has cleared and it's time to get digiscoping in 2010.
I spent a couple of hours this morning at a near by stretch of water on the edge of the Peak District, the roads were reasonable and the light was good.
Main aim of this morning was to have a go at doing some video digiscoping using the movie function of my Praktica Luxmedia 12-HD digital camera. First impressions are that this method of digiscoping has got huge potential and offers a totally different experience in the way you approach the subject matter.
Take a read of my findings and see a few example of video digiscoping here. I need to spend time and get a lot more footage so I can experiment further, but hope this will give you some idea of what can be achieved. It's good fun and makes me look forward to some of the opportunities available later on this year.
16.12.09 | looking ahead
Got some great things planned for digiscopediary in 2010.
Digiscoping seems to be coming more and more popular every year, with some great products out there to really help us get the best from this hobby.
Next year I'm planing to do a lot more testing and experimenting with digiscoping products and hopefully, if I can, help anyone who's looking to get started in digiscoping.
The latest 'big thing' in the digiscope world is recording video through your scope - as more and more digital cameras come equipped with HD video functions - it seems like the natural progression - something I'm going to be delving in to early in the new year.
Also planned is a comparison test between a Digiscoping set up, a DSLR with telephoto lens and a super zoom compact camera - lets see what the pros and cons are of all three options so you can see for yourself which system would suit you best.
Next year will see the introduction of the new Olivon T84 EDO - a truly outstanding spotting scope - and like all Olivon scopes - it's designed for digiscoping, ready to accept Olivon digiscoping adapters- should be a really exciting bit of kit.
Wishing everyone who has visited the site a Happy Christmas and New Year - remember to send in your images to be added to the gallery.
All the best
11.07.09 | getting up close and personal
Summer is well and truly here, and I'm trying to see as much as possible of it.
It's been a nice couple of months and I've had a few visits to Anglesey and local reserves near me. Most of my recent photography has been with my 100mm Macro lens - I'm becoming more and more interested in photographic flowers and insects at the moment - I just love the abstract colours and shapes that macro photography produces especially when photographing wildlife. I've spent a lot of time photographing wild orchids with my Dad who is very passionate about this amazing plant.
Main highlight of recent months was meeting some of the BBC SpringWatch team at South Stack on Anglesey, I was lucky enough to watch John Aitchison BBC Wildlife camera man filming the bird life on the cliff face. Also a recent visit to Cemlyn Bay to see the Thousands of Terns was a real treat.
A selection of recent shots
Click thumbnail for larger picture Bee Orchid
Click thumbnail for larger picture Fragrant Orchid
Click thumbnail for larger picture Gulls
Click thumbnail for larger picture South Stack
21.03.09 | Spring is in the air
The recent spell of sunshine has been a real inspiration to get out with the gear again.
At last, some sunny skies and great conditons for wildlife photography. I've had a couple of trips out this week, both local and a bit further a field. We visited South Stack on Anglesey on Monday - the weather was great, and you can always rely on Stack for some nice shots. Male Stonechats presented well perched high on the Gorse. I think Stonechats are one of my favorite birds to photograph as they are so approachable and look so striking sitting on a prominant perch.
At the weekend we visited Wolseley Bridge, lots of signs that Spring has started plus an opportunity for me to test the Olivon Podtreck - which is great for carrying your tripod and scope as well as other equipment.
Earlier in the month I went to a very interesting talk by Michael Leech, a wildlife photographer and wildlife camera man for the BBC. Michael specialises in high speed photography and has a set up that when a infra red beam is triggered by a moving animal he can shoot at F32 at a shutter speed of 30,000th of a second. Amazing stuff. His work can be viewed at www.michael-leach.co.uk
A selection of shots from this week
Click thumbnail for larger picture Stonechat
Click thumbnail for larger picture Stonechat
Click thumbnail for larger picture Common Toad
Click thumbnail for larger picture Common Toad
11.01.09 | Happy New Year
It's been a while since I last updated my diary - seems like every weekend has something in the way of getting out and doing some photography - either the weather or other commitments. I'm hoping this year will be different and I'm determined to get out more with my gear.
I started this year with a very interesting evening at Leek Photographic Club, there was a talk by David Cromack the editor of Birds Illustrated magazine on world class bird photography. The talk featured a slide show of entries from bird photographers into birding photo competitions over the years. Some DSLR and some Digiscoped. It was very interesting to hear the thoughts of what makes a good bird photograph from a serious bird watcher and competition judge.
The emphasis was very much on the colours and composition rather than the subject matter, rather than just a picture of a bird on the branch for example. This is something that I would like to reflect more in my photography this year, rather than trying to capture an image of a particular bird, I want to think more about the placing of the subject with in the frame, whether it be just a silhouette of the subject matter and remembering that the subject does not have to fill the frame in order to capture a good image.
All the best for the new year and happy digiscoping.