Birder's Guide

NOV 2016

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 10 of 43

9 November 2016 | Birder's Guide to Gear wonder I didn't last with that camera. Today, I pop the memory card from the camera, stick it in my computer, and re- view the images onscreen. No wonder I'm sold on the Canon SX50. Okay, that's not really all there is to it. Once I've settled on one or two decent pho- tos, I get down to the business of editing them. It's okay to edit photos. The pros do it. It's not cheating. With the Canon SX50, I find that my photos usually benefit from sharpening and highlighting. I often tweak the saturation and temperature but—hon - estly—more for fun than anything else. I almost never adjust shadowing, and I haven't yet drunk the Kool-Aid of tint and sepia. The contrast and exposure settings are the tricky ones. They mess up the im- age onscreen, but they improve the qual- ity of images subjected to file compression by eBird, Facebook, Google, and so forth. We'll talk about this more in the next entry. But before we move on, let's look at a real example, a Say's Phoebe on a hot afternoon at the preserve. Using the settings on my computer, a Mac, I sharpened and high - lighted the photo (to give the image more pop), increased the saturation and temper- ature (to make the image warmer overall), and slightly increased the contrast and ex- posure (to make the image look better on- line, a point I'm still dancing around). Point, Shoot, Edit... and Share • Double-crested Cormorant Next step in the process: Share your pho- tos with the world. But how? Back in the day, you'd show them to your pals at a get-together in your den. Remember up- side-down images, burned-out bulbs, and 35mm slide projectors that weighed more than a cinder block? It amazes me to think that, not all that long ago, I traveled with my slides. Things are so different today. Today you photograph a Double-crested Cormorant and post the image to Face- book. In an instant, oh, a billion or so people have access to the photo. Okay, I don't have that many Facebook friends, but I'm pretty sure more people saw this cormorant on Facebook than ever would have seen it back in the days of 35mm slide projectors. I put the photo on Twitter too, and blogged about it. And of course I uploaded it with my eBird entry for the morning of the sighting. The photo looks different in those me- dia—Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and eBird—than straight from my camera. I'm told it's because they're compressed. I haven't a clue as to how file compression works but can tell you the result: Com- pressed photos are soft, muddy, and dark. That's why I mess with the contrast, expo- sure, and other settings discussed earlier. Bottom line: Consider where you want to post or publish your photos, and edit ac- cordingly. Challenge I: Chiaroscuro • American White Pelican It sounds so simple: light and dark, and the interplay between the two—that's really all there is to photography. The rules of chess are simple, too, and so are the fundamen - tals of counterpoint. Well, I'm not a grand- master, and I can't compose a fugue. Same deal with photography. When it comes to the balancing act between light and dark, I have no idea what I'm doing. But I've noticed a few things about the SX50's per- formance under different lighting regimes, and I'll share those observations. In low light, the images are grainy, blurry, or both. If I need a "documentation shot" of a rarity during twilight, I'll prob- Double-crested Cormorant Photo © Ted Floyd American White Pelican Photo © Ted Floyd

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