Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 33 of 51

Smartphone Digiscoping Here are two photos of the same Black Skimmer, both digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 80mm spotting scope. The photo on the left was taken with a Nikon V1, while the one on the right was taken with an iPhone 4s. Photo © Sharon Stiteler. and Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones also offer versatile cameras to capture images of birds. As always with digiscoping, half the battle is the equipment. Spotting scopes with better glass and coatings—such as Zeiss, Kowa, Leica, and Swarovski— will make better images than lower-end scopes. But if you are simply document- ing a rarity or capturing a souvenir of a lifer Boreal Owl, just about any decent scope will work with a smartphone. The other half of the battle is practice. Some photographers say that for every great photo you see printed, at least 250 more were out of focus or in the wrong light. I think the number is probably double that. Practice digiscoping at a Sandhill Cranes at dawn in Kearney, NE, taken by hand-holding an iPhone 4s up to a Swarovski ATM 80mm spotting scope. Since smartphones do so well in low light, experiment to get artsy photos with them. Photo © Sharon Stiteler. 32 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2013 bird feeder. Once you have mastered easy birds like House Sparrow and European Starling, move on to chickadees and nuthatches. After you have those birds down, you are ready for the feld. Hand-holding a Phone It is possible to hand-hold your phone and get photos and video. Rather than eyeballing the aim of your phone's camera to the scope eyepiece, try lining it up with the viewing screen. Start by twisting out the eyecup on your scope. This gives your phone a little "eye relief" and prevents you from accidentally scratching the lens of your scope with your phone as you line them up. Look through the scope and focus on the bird you want to digiscope. Hold the phone away from your scope so you can see the entire eyepiece on the viewing screen of your phone. You will see what looks like a small point of light in the eyepiece. Slowly lower your phone towards the eyepiece while keeping the light towards the center of the screen. As the point of light increases on the screen, you should start to see the image of the bird or branch. Keep lowering your phone until you can feel it rest on the eyepiece; at this point, the phone lens and scope should

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