Learning From The Past

As my So Texas safari approaches, I find myself going back through my files from last years visit. With the wonderful capabilities of digital and EXIF data, I can study my images and the camera settings I chose to see what images I like and what I want to improve upon.

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Great Kiskadee captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm F4, on Lexar Digital Media. Shutter speed 1/500 @ F5.6, -1 stop EC. With this information at my fingertips, I can study my techniques to see if I need more or less depth of field, how my exposure looks, whether or not I had a long enough lens…or, too long a lens. This information was not nearly so available to us in the film days. We either had to carry around a notepad or a tape recorder to log our exposure, lens, film data and I, for one, always seemed to get caught up in my photography and at about frame number six I would forget all about logging my data. Yipee, let’s hear it for EXIF data.

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Long-billed Thrasher captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm with TC-17E on Lexar Digital Media. Shutter speed 1/200 @ F8 -1 Stop EC. I was closer to the Thrasher in this photo and needed a little bit more depth of field. Since he was still, I was able to reduce my shutter speed and still capture tack sharp eyes…and that eye is right in your face!

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Harris Hawk captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm on Lexar digital Media.

I look for behavior shots, like this Harris Hawk with it’s beak open in mid call.

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Magnolia Warbler captured with Nikon D2Xs, 600mm with TC-17E on Lexar Digital Media

or, this Warbler taking a bath.

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Groove-billed Ani captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm on Lexar Digital Media

Be alert! Don’t let your guard down or you might miss a rare opportunity. When this Groove-billed Ani appeared, even though I had never seen one in person, I knew immediately what it was and how rare a sighting I was graced with. I captured 8 frames and he was gone so fast that had I not captured him on my CF card I would have wondered if I was imagining things.

Now that I have a D3 with the FX sensor, how will this change my approach to photographing the birds of So Texas? I have new technology available to me that I did not have last year…the FX sensor as I already mentioned, a new AF-S 600mm f4 VR lens that not only has Vibration Reduction but, it focuses several feet closer than my original AF-S 600mm. So many thoughts go through my head as I re-visit these images and take a trip into the past. Memories come flooding back, to a wonderful adventure with some really terrific photographers. I learn so much from my images…and they inspire me to go out and bring the wonders of the world back to share with others…my vision of the world captured one split second at a time. Those special moments, rare sightings, knowing that I “nailed it” fill my heart and I look forward with great anticipation to sharing this bird photographers mecca with some new friends.