Monday, January 12, 2009

Bush Birds

These last few weeks my attempts at photographing birds have either been very exciting or hugely frustrating. I have a new camera! I finally bought a Pentax 200D with a couple of Sigma lenses. Unfortunately there were other 'big ticket' items that I had to also get at the same time, so the camera is not what I had in mind to begin with. However, I know from looking at the work of others that it will take good and even great photos – I just need to make it do so for me! Simply by using automatic settings I can now take photos of all those tiny birds that flitter so fast through the bushes! Fantastic! But how to make it take consistently good photos, especially in the bright light out on the water? Pure Frustration!! So please be patient with my attempts – and I would welcome suggestions where I am making mistakes which are obvious to all you much more knowledgeable photographers. Eventually I will try the great mystery of RAW – but not just yet!

Inskip Point – a couple of days ago – and I managed to photograph a couple of tiny birds that I have seen a number of times and never, NEVER photographed with more than a BLUR!

I know there are Variegated Wrens out there as I have seen them numbers of times. Their bright colors are particularly spectacular in the shade of the bushes that they seem to like. However, this is my first recognizable photo and unfortunately I spoilt it with an out-of-focus leaf in the right foreground.
I have also seen Varied Trillers before but again, this is my first photo!

Over the last two days I have had two new bird visitors in my backyard. I don't know if it has been just chance or if they have come in because of all the new gardens that are growing up around the new houses. I heard a noise right outside my kitchen window two days ago and saw two Double-barred Finches in the Banksia Rose bush I am training up a trellis. Unfortunately they were too fast and I was definitely too slow to get a photo!
Yesterday morning there were two White-throated Honeyeaters in the hibiscus. They appeared to be getting nectar from the flowers but I also got a photo of one with a tiny bug in its beak.


  1. Mick - well done on your new camera and I'm sure it will give you lots of pleasure! and frustration. But just remember that for the few really good pictures we post, there are dozens that get deleted (in my case)! But that's the beauty of digital - you can experiment at no (financial) cost.

    Your new garden visitors sound really great - fingers crossed you get a picture in due course :)

    Your variegated wren is a stunning bird!

  2. Congratulations on your new camera, Mick!
    I'm sure it will bring you many enjoyable moments and lots of great photos.

    Just give yourself some time as there's a steep learning curve with the dslr-s. The thing with dslr cameras is that if you use their auto setting they produce nearly the same images as the little compact ones. The real power comes with the semi-auto (shutter priority, aperture priority, usually with exposure compensation) or full manual exposure, but it takes time to learn all the settings and how they interact with each other.

    I'll be glad to share my experience at any time.
    Good luck!

    ps. very nice pic of the little guy with the insect in his 'mouth' :)

  3. Thanks Tricia for your comments. I am doing lots of experimenting right now and most are just being deleted. I am sure I shall learn in the end - just hope for some usable photos of whatever birds come around in the meantime.

  4. Thanks Tilcheff for your comments and suggestions - and your offer of help too! I have been examining all the exif data on photos that have come out well with the automatic settings and then am trying to go on from there. Lots to learn yet but its a great challenge.

  5. Wow, your Wren is fantastic. I have never seen such colours on a little bird before. Nicely photographed. Have fun with your new camera.

  6. Thanks NM. He's certainly a stunning looking bird and it was great to finally get a photo!

  7. Good start Mick.

    No mystery to Raw, imho. It gives truer and more subtle colour, that's why file sizes are so much larger. Try shooting Raw and jpegs together (your camera will have settings for this). Use jpegs for first fast vetting of all files. If it looks good in jpeg, save and process the Raw file. Compare the two and you'll soon see the reason to go with Raw.

    Posted similar comment earlier but think it got lost.

  8. Hi Mick
    I find birds always difficult, probably because of my own slow reactions. At least Orchids stay put for me!
    I have gradually specialised in close-ups, and always use manual settings and manual focus for those images. But close-up work is its own special challenge. Depth of field is the biggest issue for that.
    I am sure Tilcheff can offer you good advice on techniques.
    Best of luck.
    We are all learning - hopefully each and every day (otherwise it is not worth getting out of bed, is it?).

  9. Thanks Tony for your comments and suggestions. (No sign of the first comment btw.) I'll have to tackle RAW sometime but am anxious to get camera settings sorted out first that give me good photos out on the sand banks where the light is so harsh.

  10. Hi Denis, interesting comments re your close-up photos. That might be for the future for me. I agree - challenges energize one! As long as they are not too out of reach that is!