Monday, June 14, 2010

Nina Learns Digiscoping (and enjoys a little beginner's luck)

Last week I had my very first experience with digiscoping, and I can easily see how one becomes addicted to this fascinating hobby. As my coworker Mike showed me, digiscoping is taking photographs using a digital camera and a spotting scope. While I have long admired Mike's exquisite photographs ( he has 8 years of digiscoping experience),  I was prepared to find that getting such results would be complicated and difficult.  Fortunately for me, luck is also involved.

Mike and I set up our digiscoping equipment at nearby Pope Farm Park, a natural area with oak savanna and restored prairie habitats and a spectacular view of distant Madison and Lake Mendota.  Several bird houses are in place; we found one to be an excellent subject on which to focus our scope since there were tree swallows busily feeding young there.

With Mike's guidance, I learned there are three basic points to remember as you get started in digiscoping. The first is to have your subject well illuminated:  have the sun at your back.  Secondly, use the lowest magnification on your scope (we were using the Vortex Razor HD); and lastly and perhaps most importantly, have patience.

Mike stepped back from the tripod and I was on my own. The swallows gracefully circled, veered, dipped, dove, and alighted on the house.  It was exciting to view their blue luminescence through the lens, but I also noticed that the swallows were not stopping to pose for me.  They had young to care for and feed.  Snap.  Miss.  Snap, miss.  Snap. I got the tail in the shot!  I learned to anticipate the birds' movements.  Snap.  Sigh.  Snap!   There we go! I GOT ONE!   Mike checked the viewfinder, let out a cheer, and gave me a high five.

As I said, the allure of digiscoping can be irresistible, especially once you have had a taste of success.  Stay tuned for our video, Introduction to Digiscoping, on the Eagle Optics website. Mike and I encourage you to get out there and experience wildlife up close through the lens of a camera and a scope. With a little instruction and a lot of patience, you'll be on your way to capturing your own images and a lifetime of memories.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff

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