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.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/216642

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Introduction to Camera Settings Aperture Aperture controls the amount of light hitting the sensor over a given length of time (that length of time—expressed in seconds—is the shutter speed). Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when a photo is Birds in fight require faster shutter speeds to captaken, and it is measured in "fture the action. This juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk stops". The numbering can be a was shot at an aperture of f/7.1, shutter speed of little confusing. The lower the f1/2000 s., and an ISO of 400. Photo © Sherrie Duris. stop number, the wider the aperture, which lets in more light and—combined with other settings— results in a brighter image. For any fxed ISO and shutter speed, a lower f-stop will result in a brighter image. An f-stop of 2.8, for instance, is a larger aperture than an fstop of 22. Changing the f-stop A lower ISO is used when shooting in direct suncan also change the distance in light. These three American Avocets were shot at which objects are in focus in an aperture of f/5.6, a shutter speed of 1/1250 s., and an ISO of 200. Photo © Sherrie Duris. front of or behind the subject of your image. This distance is referred to as "depth of feld". A higher f-stop value keeps more of an image in focus, and smaller f-stop value isolates the subject. For example, to create a blurred background of a bird in the open, decrease the depth of feld by lowering the fstop number. If you have eight This Canada Warbler was shot in fltered light (from tree canopy) at an aperture of f/5.6, a shutter speed American Avocets resting on a of 1/60 s., and an ISO of 400. Photo © Sherrie Duris. beach and you want all of them in focus, raise the f-stop number. But it's important to note that you should raise the f-stop value only if there is enough light. It's not possible to increase depth of feld by increasing the f-stop, without trading for a longer shutter speed (possible blurry image) or a higher ISO (noisier image). Shutter Speed A higher ISO is used when shooting in wooded areas or low light. This Blue Jay was shot at an aperture of f/5.6, a shutter speed of 1/250 s., and an ISO of 800. Photo © Sherrie Duris. 44 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2013 Shutter speed is measured in seconds (s.), or, in most cases, fractions of a second. The faster the speed, the less time the shutter is open, and the shorter the time the image sensor is exposed to light. The less time the image sensor is exposed to light, the darker the image. On the other hand, the slower the shutter speed, the longer the time the image sensor is exposed to light, and the brighter the image. The steps available are usually found in factors of 2 (for example, 1/125 s., 1/250 s., 1/500 s., 1/1000 s.). For birds in fight, a higher shutter speed will stop the movement of the bird and keep the bird in focus. To blur a bird's wings, you want a lower shutter speed. Or to make a waterfall too "misty", a slower shutter speed and a tripod should do the trick. A ll three exposure controls work together. There are many combinations of aperture and shutter speed that produce the same exposure. The key is light—always confning the photographer to fnd a set of correct settings to get the exposure. No amount of adjustments to the settings will compensate for the lack of light in a scene, and it's important to understand that changing one setting will affect the other two. Once you become familiar with light and how to adjust your camera accordingly, the results will start showing up in your work. It often takes patience and lots of practice, but I guarantee that if you work at it, you will produce some great photos in no time. But beware: It can become addicting! For more information, the internet (including ) has a vast source of information on photography websites, forums, and Facebook groups with experienced photographers willing to help and share their knowledge. Remember, even professional photographers started somewhere. Being a good nature photographer is a skill. If you are serious about taking better photos, work on developing that skill into something that will reward you with images that are crisp, clear, one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

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