Bird, wildlife and natural landscape photography is an enjoyable and absorbing pastime. It is also an immense amount of fun! The advent of the digital camera and image enhancement software has had a significant impact on what was once the domain of professionals and serious amateurs. Today, it's an accessible and affordable hobby, no matter what the level of entry.
If you are starting from scratch, as we did, you will soon discover that the digital revolution has substantially reduced what was once a steep learning curve. With film, and certainly during the embryonic stages of digital, you would have to spend a fair amount of time to transition from a garden variety “point-and-click” camera operator to a “photographer” capable of combining composition with the appropriate exposure functionality and post-processing skills to create truly pleasing output. Today, fully featured camera bodies and user friendly software have combined to simplify the complicated "task" oriented tools and time consuming "work arounds" that plagued the past. Now programs targeted specifically to photography such as Adobe Lightroom make image management and enhancement easy. Moreover, development of “plug-ins” and “presets” from software suppliers such as Nik Software and Topaz Labs have turned the digital darkroom into a wonderland of creative possibilities that are only a click of the mouse away. Even the vagaries of color management have been conquered. Making quality prints is now easier than ever due to the improvements in inkjet printer technology and the development of specialty papers such as canvas or those that produce a pearlescent metallic sheen. This isn’t to say there is little room remaining for personal creativity. Tools for masking and other targeted procedures have now been simplified, reducing the time and complexity for those who prefer a more personal approach to image enhancement. If you’re thinking of digital photography as a pastime, your timing couldn’t be better.
From a learning perspective, our blog is hopefully presented in a natural sequence. To begin, we attempt to distil the full gamut of bird and wildlife photography into a "basics" nutshell, honing in on key concepts and terminology. We then help you to choose equipment by recommending essential camera features and lens choice. In the field, we emphasize the importance of positioning for light and back drop, providing several techniques that help ensure you will capture the best compositions and exposures possible. We also show you how to manage and enhance image files, detailing a seven step process for creating small prints and a less demanding alternative for good Web graphics. In addition, we help you fill in the gaps while traveling by describing some of the key natural landscape techniques that will hopefully elevate your overall photography skills. Once you grasp the fundamentals, we point to more in-depth reference material to complete what we hope is a roadmap for growth. Most importantly, we pinpoint hundreds of the best bird, wildlife and natural landscape locations in western North America, sites we have visited and enjoyed. Finally, we present Galleries where we share our images with you from locations that we feel provide abundant photography opportunities.
Don't be daunted by what appears to be complex technology and terminology. The concepts are simple and easy to implement. Unlike film, digital is a creative medium that provides instant feedback, allowing you to review results and correct mistakes in no time. You'll find the old adage "practise makes perfect" is an appropriate mantra as you acquire the skills to develop what can truly become an exciting art form.
If you feel we have erred at any point throughout our blog, especially the species descriptions, technical analysis or advice, please don't hesitate to contact us. Our objective is to simply share results as we learn from our mistakes and hopefully become more proficient and knowledgeable photographers. It is very much a work in progress and will be updated as we gain experience or correct our errors and omissions over time.