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 43 of 51

Introduction to Camera Settings The photo to the left was taken at f/16 and 1/1000 of a second while the photo to the right was taken at f/6.3 and 1/6400 of a second. In both cases, the focus point was the central breast of the front bird, below and in front of the eye. Compare the level of detail visible in the gull in the background and the vegetation in the foreground in the two shots, as well as the number of water ripples that are in focus. Note that the zone of acceptable focus extends farther behind the focus point than it does in front. In this case, the smaller f-stop number is probably better, as its faster shutter speed stopped the motion of the gull yawning, and the shallower depth of feld has the effect of focusing attention on the subject itself rather than background and foreground elements. Photos by © Jeffrey A. Gordon. images, allowing a lower ISO. One metaphor that might help you remember how ISO works is that it's like "inverse sunscreen". The higher the ISO number, the more light allowed to hit the sensor. The lower the number, the more light blocked. If you're out on the beach on a cloudless summer day, you want a higher SPF in your sunscreen. Higher SPF = lower ISO number. You'll want to be taking photos out there with an ISO in the low hundreds, or less. If you're in the forest on a cloudy day, you'll need little if any sunscreen for your skin. Low SPF = high ISO number. If it's really dark in there, you may even want to turn the ISO up into the low thousands. The photo to the left was taken at f/20 and 1/125 of a second while the photo to the right was taken at f/5.6 and 1/1600 of a second. Again, in this relatively bright situation, shooting with a smaller f-stop number and a fast shutter speed produces a better result. The 1/125 exposure was not fast enough to stop the motion of the wigeon's head (note the blurred bill and neck), and the great depth of feld of f/20 makes the background confusingly detailed. At 1/1600, the duck's head motion is stopped, and the confusing background has been blurred more pleasingly by a shallow depth of feld. Photos by © Jeffrey A. Gordon. 42 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2013

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