Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Testing, Testing!

At last some bright conditions that coincide with me having some free time. I took advantage of the situation and decided to run a few tests with the iPhone and scope. And also to compare the results to pictures taken through my Canon SX40. The results surprised me.

All pictures are cropped only, apart from that, they are as the camera used took them.

A lot of pictures were taken. These are the best ones.

This was taken at about 30 yards, using the SRB Griturn adapter to hold the iPhone in place.


Same bird, same distance, phone hand held against eyepiece.

The first thing I noticed is that the colours are so much more vibrant hand holding the phone. I estimate that the adapter holds the phone about half an inch from the eyepiece, and the eyepiece adjustable eyecup has to be fully wound down to minimise vignetting.

Handheld is the opposite. The adjustable eyecup has to be fully extended to minimise vignetting. The phone is simply held against the rubber eyecup. Lining up is a little tricky at first, but youngest better with practice.

It is my opinion that the better pictures I took today with the phone were all with the phone handheld.

That particular Gull decided it had had enough and left me to pick a new model.

This one was about 40 yards away. Same bird, same distance, different cameras. To compare quality of pictures. Again, pictures cropped only.

iPhone handheld.

Canon SX40 full optical zoom with 1.5x tele-convertor enabled.

The Canon SX40 had slightly more reach with the 1.5X tele-Convertor. It was easier to get on the subject with, and the picture is sharper.

What have I learnt? Still not sure. So many variables to consider in different situations. Bottom line is smartphones can capture a very acceptable picture through the scope. So, if its in your pocket and your scope is focused on a stationary target, take some pictures. I do believe hand holding is the way to go.

For more mobile subjects, the dedicated camera is a better option. I suppose though as photographers say, "the best camera is the one you have with you."


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dark Times.

I just can't seem to catch a break at the moment in terms of light quality for digiscoping. Since the purchase of a digiscoping adapter to attach my iPhone 4S to my scope, we seem to have not seen sunlight. Ok, I will rephrase that, we have seen some reasonably decent light conditions when I am at work.

Broke up for Christmas at lunchtime on Wed 19th. I had taken my scope to work with me with the intention of heading straight to a local nature reserve from work. This, was the start of a real grey period! It rained, light was poor, everything looked drab and grey. I took it on the chin, and went to the nature reserve anyway. I set up stall out of the rain in a hide with a feeding station and had a go with the iPhone and adapter. Results to be honest are not great, but better than I expected considering the appalling light conditions, rain, and resulting slow shutter speeds and high ISO.

45 Yards

The above pictures were edited using the ipad.

These two pictures, which I rather like, were edited on the phone itself.

Roll on some decent light conditions so I can see what this phonescoping is really capable of.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

More iscoping

Out for a walk this morning with John around Dosthill nature reserve. Nice bright morning. We both had our scopes with us In the hope a Bittern reported the previous day may put in an appearance. It didn't! As John has just taken possession of a new smartphone with excellent camera (Samsung S3), we were soon experimenting hand holding our phones against our scope eyepieces to see what they could do.

I was again surprised that at range, I could take a clearer sharper picture through my scope hand holding my phone than I could with my Lumix F10 camera on its digiscoping bracket?

These geese were taken at a range of about 90 yards.

Not bad hand held and manually operating shutter release.

This has again motivated me to persevere with this form of digiscoping. After all the phone is always with me. I have also discovered that the full 1080p HD video though is excellent through the scope too.

I have discovered that if I use my iPhone digiscoping bracket as mentioned in my previous blogs, I can remotely release the shutter using my earphones by pressing the volume up button on them. Thus, fully eliminating camera/scope shake during shutter release.

I intend giving this a real testing next week when I break up for my Xmas holiday and have some daylight time to see what kind of results I can produce.

As a finish to this posting, here is a still picture captured from the HD Video I took of these geese today. Still 90 yards. This picture is straight from the phone and untouched except for cropping.



Sunday, 9 December 2012

Worth the effort!

Felt much better this morning. Not 100%, far from it, but a definite improvement. Thought I would take a chance and visit Dosthill Lake to see if the Long Tailed Duck that had been there all week was still in residence?

As is usual with my luck in these situations, it would probably have left yesterday after "showing well" to all and sundry. I really wanted this tick. The fact I was about to tackle cardiac hill while still not back at full fitness shows my enthusiasm to see this bird.

Wellies on, scope packed, trusty Plummer Terrier by my side and we set off from the car.

Taz - My Birding Companion (Plummer Terrier)

Cardiac hill is deceiving. It looks and feels like nothing special on the way down. It's coming back you feel the burn.

Anyway, in the twilight as we strolled toward the lakes, we were treated to some spectacular views of a Barn Owl hunting and then taking some time out to perch not more than 50 yards away. I felt it was still too dark to attempt a picture, so we just watched for a while. Eventually, it resumed the hunt and disappeared from sight. So Taz and I resumed our own duck hunt.

We made straight for the nature reserve pits and I set the scope up and started scanning. No luck! We moved to several different vantage points, still no luck! I scanned the reed line for a bonus Bittern (clutching at straws) no luck there either. What I did notice were a couple of anglers hiding in the far bank reeds, no self respecting Bittern would be in there with them.

Anglers hiding in the reeds. This was taken through scope hand holding iPhone to eyepiece.

I scanned the whole lake, no joy.

John texted me to ask if I had found it. I phoned him to tell him no, it was looking like a big fail.

During the call, John informed me the Long Tailed Duck was actually not on the lakes I was looking at, but the Jet Ski lake. He told me where he had twice seen it earlier in the week, and we were off again. Cheers John!

After a hour of scanning the Ski lake I was about to give it up as a bad job. Suddenly, something caught my eye in the distance through the scope and promptly disappeared from sight. I could be in here? I lifted the scope and headed off for a better and closer vantage point. Again, it took a bit of finding, spending more time submerged than on the surface. Eventually, it stayed on top for about two minutes preening. Again, light was too poor to try for decent pictures. The best I got was this rubbish one, and it's terrible.

Poor light, distant, iPhone.

Anyway, result!

Cardiac hill didn't seem as daunting as usual as Taz and I tackled it at a leisurely pace. A very worthwhile morning. I will sleep well tonight. Taz has been asleep all day.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Man Flu and Exposure Compensation

Been ill most of the week with a particularly virulent strain of Man Flu. Felt pretty crap, so after work each day I have just curled up on the settee and done a bit of reading. I have noticed that some of the best photographs I have seen published on the Internet, taken with the same camera I have (Canon SX40), all have one thing in common! The people using them are experienced photographers and all when questioned on the quality of their pictures state the importance of exposure compensation. So, this week while fighting the good fight against whatever bloody pathogen is reeking havoc with my body, and seemingly losing for a while, I swatted up on exposure compensation for novices.

So, the arrival of Saturday morning, and even with a pounding headache I still wanted to put into practice what I had been reading about. I still have a lot to learn about when and how much exposure compensation to dial into each individual situation, but here are a couple of results from today I am quite pleased with.



These I feel are much more representative of what my eye could see.

I will definitely be persevering with the nuances of exposure compensation.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Success at Weekend

Well, the Great Northern Diver hung around at Shustoke reservoir. Not only that, its mate turned up too.

Pete, Dan and I set off on Saturday morning and located one of the Great Northern Divers within 10 mins of our arrival. Result! Love it when it's that easy.

We did eventually see both Great Northern Divers and they happily swan around together showing very well to the birders that had turned out to see them.

Also, on the plus side, a single Common Scoter was located and provided a nice bonus bird.

I am now hoping for some very local Waxwings. Dan had a flock of about 20 today near CO-OP Superstore, Wilnecote. Nice find.

Birdguides have reported some seen briefly in Glascote, I want more.

Waxwings were in this area. You gotta love them. You scour the countryside for them and they turn up in a superstore car park, or on a housing estate.