COBA Seventh Meeting

The seventh meeting of the Camera Owners of the Bay Area user group met last night at SLAC. This month’s meeting was going to feature talks by landscape and nature photographers, but I wasn’t able to secure enough speakers for the night. Since I had just returned from a week in Desolation Wilderness, I decided to give a talk on backpacking and photography.

First time attendees to COBA, Claudia and Gordon Peterson, helped me out by listing some tips and techniques for effective bird photography. I doubt that a camouflaged tarp would have helped to bring the wildlife closer to me last week; they don’t call it Desolation Wildnerness without a reason! Granted, I did see one deer walk right in front of me during the trail one day, but that was the only large animal I saw during the entire trip.

Here are some tips and techniques that were compiled from the evening’s presentations:

General Backpacking Photography Tips

  1. Bring a tripod!
  2. Bring a timer remote controller! Michael Reichmann wrote a nice review of the TC-80N3 on his web site Luminous Landscape.
  3. Remember the rule of thirds when shooting landscapes and panoramas.
  4. Bring along a neutral density, graduated density, and polarizer filters for intensifying the colors of the sky and equalizing contrast.
  5. Know the golden hours where you’re going. Sunrise and sunset are ideal times for taking photos.

Panorama Tips

  1. Use a tripod!
  2. 24mm in portrait position for panoramas. Take them in 15 degree increments.
  3. Make sure your tripod and camera are as level as possible.

Night Photography Tips

  1. Use a tripod!
  2. Remember the Rule of 600 from Luminous Landscape.
  3. Set focus at infinity, unless you know what you’re doing.

Digital Camera Tips in the Outdoors

  1. Keep batteries warm when in use or just prior to use. You can let them cool down in the evening, but don’t let them freeze! One suggestion is to put the camera in your sleeping bag if you think you’ll be using it during the evening.
  2. Conserve power by turning off the LCD Review (use it only when necessary). Turn off the AF beep sound.
  3. Watch out for dust when performing lens changes. Shoot the sky at f/2.8 to f/22 and use the LCD Review to see if there are any big dust spots. If you do have to change your lens, make sure you do so away from the wind.
  4. Consider taking a lighter, more convenient lens than a large, heavy lens. A 28-300/3.5-6.3 might have worked just as effectively as a 17-35/2.8 and a 70-200/2.8 combination, without the extra weight.

Wildlife and Bird Photography Tips from Claudia and Gordon

  1. Camouflage yourself. Birds feel more comfortable seeing a bush than a human.
  2. Birds tend to be their most active from sunrise to 11:00 am and 3:00 pm to sunset.
  3. Feathers like sun and light.
  4. Use a long lens. There’s a saying that wildlife photography begins at 400mm. Get your teleconverters and start stacking away!
  5. Use your flash to create catchlights. Consider purchasing the Better Beamer for enhanced flash performance.

The crowd was smaller but more intimate this time around, with plenty of time for people to ask questions and get answers.

Next month’s meeting will be held on October 9, 2002. We’re hoping to see a demonstration of Canon’s rumored and much discussed Canon EOS-1Ds, the 11 megapixel, studio version of their flagship professional digital camera. The rest of the meeting topics have not been finalized, but keep your eyes posted on the COBA web page for more information!

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