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Old 3rd October 2013
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Re: Bird Photography from a hide. Help!

Hi Tim.

I'm afraid woodland is rather dark for photography at the best of times and especially on a dull day. Our eyes and brains have a greater dynamic range than a camera sensor and can adapt better to low light levels. Even observing birds with binoculars in woodland is more difficult. Birdwatchers with a specific interest in woodland birds will often use lower magnification (7 X rather than the usual 8 or 10 X) binoculars with larger objective lenses to get a brighter view.
It is significant that with your second shot you were able to use a much lower ISO even at a greater distance because the birds were in the (relatively) brighter area of the pool which is not shaded by the trees.

On a bright sunny day you will stand a better chance but will still have to look for birds in brighter patches between the shadows.This is where fieldcraft and an understanding of bird behavior comes in. As David says permanent hides are not often situated optimally for photography.

Don't be put off by this disappointing initial exercise as you have actually learnt something from it. Pick your day weatherwise, look for the best location for both the bird species and the light (probably not a hide) and employ fieldcraft and stealth (and patience ).

I'll give you a practical example.
I had long wanted to see and photograph Treecreepers. I went to a wood in Suffolk where they are quite common. I left SWMBO in the car in the car park and spent ages in the wood without seeing a thing. When I got back she said "did you see them?" Did I*****. " "I've been watching two running up and down that tree over there" she said.

The reason?
The car park was at the edge of the wood where it was brighter, the car made an excellent hide and there was no one tramping about with a BIGMA.

The ducks in your last shot are indeed Wigeon.


Edit. Just seen your last post. You should have put up with the crowds and looked at the Spoonbill. They're much rarer, bigger, stay in the open light and and are all white.

she looked at me and said "It's official. I hate your camera. It's just so amazing and perfect I want one!"

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