Saturday, April 10, 2010

Digiscoping at the Heronry

Rick the Reluctant Birder and I headed over to the Great Blue Heron heronry tonight to see if we could do a bit of digiscoping. The nesting activity is really picking up, and we were hoping to capture a few cool images. The viewing area for the heronry is really far away, probably between a quarter and a half mile away, plus the trees are at least 80 feet tall, so it's hard to get decent shots with my camera. Rick is infinitely more technical than I am, so he set the camera up. We used a Swarovski KA TLS 800 35mm camera adapter and a Swarovski DCA Digiscoping adapter, and for the really close-up images, added a Nikon 50mm F 1.8 lens. He used his Nikon D3 camera with the mirror locked up and a wireless remote. The spotting scope is a Swarovski ATM 80 HD, which I love. This was our first time out, and the images aren't that bad when you consider how far away we were. The evening sun was beautiful and lit the nests very well. He shot at a 200 ISO, RAW.

Digiscoped and lit in the warm glow of evening, this Great Blue Heron appears deceptively close.
Without binoculars, you could barely see him...

Watching his long breeding plumes blow in the breeze was a beautiful sight, especially when you consider he's at least 80 feet off the ground at the top of a Sycamore tree and well over a quarter of a mile away!

...flying out for another stick possibly...or maybe just dinner...

This pair was busy nest building. Most of the herons are already sitting on eggs,
but this couple was still footloose and fancy free!

These were the super close-ups. They came out in a funky color of blue, so I desaturated them in Aperture and made them black and white. Knowing how incredibly far away we were, I can't get over the detail. Digiscoping is so cool!!



38 comments:

JeniQ said...

Very cool Kelly!!!!

Kelly said...

...thank, Jeni! So do you agree Rick is infinitely more tech than I am? ;-)

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! I'm extremely jealous of that camera and scope set-up.

BTW, I use Photoshop rather than Aperure, and I've found that rather than using desaturation, a better quality b&w image can be arrived at by using the Channel Mixer set to monochrome and playing with the red, blue, and green sliders to get just the right monochromatic balance. I use Photoshop CS, but I understand CS3 & CS4 both have a special function for creating better b&w images. I don't know if Aperture has this, although I'd think they'd have to have a Channel Mixer. Just something to think about.

grammie g said...

Great photo's of the heron's,-- digiscoping!! I don't know what in the world your talking about{:)lol

Kelly said...

Roy......sounds like you're a techie too. I have Photoshop and use it to reduce my photo size. I need to get a book and learn how to use the tools. I really like black and white photos and want to learn more about them. Thanks for the info. With Aperture, I just slid the slider all the way to the left to desaturate!

Grammie.....you made me laugh. I barely know what I'm talking about! :-)

Teri C said...

FABULOUS photos Kelly. Sounds like a wonderful day.
I recently got Photoshop and also need to learn to use it.

Elaine said...

Very nice! It's amazing what you can do with the right equipment.

The Early Birder said...

Whow...nice shooting Kelly and good to have the reluctant techy along for his input! So have you now crossed a big lens for the camera off your Xmas list after this experience? FAB.

Abraham said...

These are pretty cool shots, Kelly. I especially liked the last one plus the black and white versions.

Toni said...

Awesome Kelly that you were able to go digiscoping. One of these days you are going to have to make it over here to Presque Isle.

Warren Baker said...

Wonderful captures kelly, you did well ( or rick did ?)

Wanda said...

I just finished viewing your 2009 Journal of Heron shots on your sidebar too. Beautiful photos Kelly. Just this week two Herons flew over the house, I managed one quick photo, of course with my camera it came out as a black shadow against the sky, no detail at all...I got the reconizable shape though. :)

holdingmoments said...

Great shots Kelly. I've never tried digiscoping, but I understand it's not easy getting great results like these.

Katherine Thomas said...

Beautiful photos. The Great Blue Herons are special to me too. (I grew up in Marblehead, Ohio) I don't get to see them much around Cincinnati, though.

Sarah Knight said...

Wow, that looks awesome. I am so envious of all of you with your access to bird sanctuaries — there's nothing like that out here in the farm country that I live in... I just usually park the car by the road and stand in the ditch and hope that no one shoots me... it is farm country, and I am no cattle poacher.

It always amazes me that herons nest in trees.

Great shots!

Bill S. said...

Fantastic photos. We have several rookeries here and they have not started nesting yet. But soon.

Chad said...

I have a Vortex Scope, which I really like but I so want a Swarvoski (spelling?), ha. Your pictures are really great and I like the Black and White, they are very eye catching... very nice!

Cicero Sings said...

Such wonderful pictures. I'd love to get that close with a camera but, like grammie, have never heard of digiscoping. So much new technology.

Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, these are just fab shots. I know next to nothing about digiscoping, but you certainly have some wonderful photos there.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Kelly.... You all are WAY ahead of me --when it comes to photography... I'm SO impressed, especially since I'm still just learning to use my 300mm long lens. ha ha

Beautiful shots of the Herons.... WOWOWOWOWOW...
Hugs,
Betsy

Roy said...

Lovely soft images Kelly.

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, I've tried digiscoping and these shots are AMAZING! Sounds like you guys had quite a set up for these shots and they were well worth it!

Hilke Breder said...

Gorgeous images! Great camera work! Amazingly noise-free considering the distance. Wished I had accessible rookery in my area - there's one but too hard to get to.

TonyC said...

Lovely shots Kelly - beautiful light too. - My gueass is that you'll get a couple of paintings out of this lot!!

Chris Petrak said...

Thanks for all your visits to my blog and comments - I haven't been able to be quite so good about responding to your posts. I love this series on the herons. And earlier posts, especially of the terns, were just great - neat photos, and the watercolors.

JKoenig said...

Wow! Nice sharp pictures for being so far away. Loved the black and white too.

DK Miller said...

Wow! That is so cool! Great images.

BirdingMaine said...

Digiscoping IS so cool! And you have a collection of beautiful photos to prove it! Great work Kelly!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
Love the digiscoped photo's. Once one has mastered it, it is a great wat of photographing birds far away.I Had a go at it for a while. Didn'tdo too bad. but found it hard.
I know what you mean about the scope being good, as I have one.

E said...

Beautiful, I remember them, lovely and magic. Well done, Kelita. Hugs

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

How fun! I would love to learn more about digiscoping. Looks like you had a really fun day with the egrets.

Nature As Is said...

Lovely post Kelly I really enjoyed it. The black and White shots are very dynamic....beautiful.

Kerri said...

Excellent!!

Mary said...

wow...that's great to get such close ups of them! I don't have that sort of set up and have to be satisfied with much more distant shots of ours, which always frustrates me. What a terrific set up!

Andrea said...

Such magnificent birds! Thanks for taking us along.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. I can't wait until I get the hang of digiscoping. Rick already seems to know what he's doing. It may take me a little long. Thanks for birding with me Rick and taking these photos!!!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Wow, those are terrific shots! I got a little lost with all the technical info. I think I could really use a digiscope, though. Are they fairly user-friendly?

I visited our heronry today after dropping off the grass clippings at the recycle center. I would have loved to seen them close like you did.

Kelly said...

The spotting scope is very easy to use, Adrienne. Just like a telescope. You'd have no problems and would love it. It's great for ducks way out on the lake...and herons in the heronry! ...anything not moving to fast.