On a raptor quest in the foothills of the Stansbury Mountains
When I retired from teaching (high school Honors Biology and Zoology) in 2003 I needed an outlet for my lifelong interest in the natural sciences. I’ve always had a special interest in birds but have never been enthralled with all that goes with being a “birder”. I had dabbled in semi-serious photography over the years so I eventually decided to give bird photography a try and just see where it took me. What a life changer! Now I live, eat and breathe birds – not from a birder’s perspective but from that of a photographer.
I have strong feelings about the “ethics” of bird photography. For me, avian photography is nature photography, and it’s not “nature” (or natural) when subjects are not their natural colors so I don’t oversaturate my images. I don’t do significant cloning or other types of major image alteration for the same reason. I don’t closely approach nesting birds and I make every effort to avoid unduly disturbing my subjects. I don’t use electronic devices to call in birds. I love to photograph raptors but will never “bait” them in. I don’t shoot “setups” except at my back yard feeders for the practice.
My gear is Canon and my primary birding rig includes the Canon 7D, Canon 500mm f/4L IS, 1.4 TC and the Gitzo Gt3530LSV tripod with full Wimberly head. In addition I sometimes shoot with the Canon 40D and Canon 100-400mm. I use a Canon Xti as a back up body. Many of my bird photographs have been taken from my pickup truck window using the vehicle as a “blind” – a very effective strategy for my situation.
I live in northern Utah and have convenient access to the many wetlands associated with the Great Salt Lake. Bird photography is usually the primary goal of my frequent camping trips throughout Utah and other western states. Because I have Montana roots and return there often, many of my avian images were taken in the western part of that state.
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