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About AZLaurie

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  • Birthday August 22

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    Southern Arizona
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    Photography: birds and an eclectic variety of other subjects. Also an avid, life-long Buffalo Bills fan and mental health advocate.

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  1. AZLaurie

    Good Camera For Beginning Birder?

    Glad I could help, FF. I bought the monopod at the same time as my tripod and thought I had wasted my money. I didn't see any benefit from it at all. I've gotten some great shots when I haven't had time to set up my tripod or had it with me. Leaning has allowed me to do that. I've had shoulder and elbow injuries which have prevented me from being able to use my better camera (Canon 7D Mark II) because of it's weight, plus the lenses, so I've experimented with the monopod. When I walk around with it, I keep it attached to the camera with the leg collapsed. That way, when I see a quick bird I only have to drop and snap the leg and I'm ready to shoot. My left arm has been in a sling for 5 months. I am able to move about and still shoot because of it. There's not much of a learning curve. Just take it out and play with it. I upgraded to my current camera from my first DSLR, a Canon T3i, about a year ago. I figure out something new about it every day. I was completely self-taught so I had just gotten the hang of the T3i (FIVE YEARS LATER) when I tossed myself to the wolves. :-) I'm finding the best way to learn is to simply try different things. I usually keep a little notebook in my pocket and jot down the settings, etc, I've used for a shot, then readjust the camera, take the notes and shoot the same scene. Then I have something with which to compare when I look at the shots. Last tip about that...don't delete in camera. It will help you keep your notes organized. It's so easy to delete oodles at a time on your computer. The one recommendation I would make to improve your tripod shots even more is to use a remote. Wireless remotes usually have to be used from the front. Occasionally, they'll work from the side. I use a wired remote. Pressing the shutter button, even if the camera is firmly attached and tightened, still gives enough of a vibration to make the difference between a great shot and an incredible one. The one thing I would look for YouTube videos on would be different ways to adjust your camera's focus (although it's hard for me to learn that way). Every camera is different. Mine has about a zillion different ways. I shoot a lot in Madera Canyon in SE Arizona and more and more photographers there have my camera. I pick their brains all the time about settings, etc. Photographers are a friendly bunch. The largest camera club in the state is in my town, yet there wasn't anyone yet with my equipment. So I hang out where I can find people who like to shoot what I do. They tend to have kits similar to mine . So shoot, shoot, shoot. Experiment, mess around, play with all the do-dads. Unless you're doing this professionally at this point, the whole idea of engaging in this wonderful hobby is to have fun. You don't have to always practice and learn on birds, either. Shoot everything and anything. Fire hydrants in the shade, fire hydrants in the sun. Moving cars. Raindrops. Dew. All sorts of moving or inanimate objects under every possible condition. It's not like you're wasting any film! Let's hear it for technology!! If you're interested, there's a wonderful international photo journal site called blipfoto.com. The skills of the members range from professional to novice. There's no pressure. The site is literally owned by the members. There are amazing bird, landscape, portrait, street, you name it, photographers on the site who are always willing to share. I love the community. In a couple of days I will hit my 2500th consecutive post [blip]. You can check out my journal at https://blipfoto.com/laurie54
  2. AZLaurie

    Good Camera For Beginning Birder?

    I have a few suggestions: 1. You can create a hide. It can be very primitive. For instance, I will sit on one of my padded patio chairs, set up my tripod and pull one of the other chairs in front of it (and me). The large pads are a brownish color so I'll put on a similarly colored shirt and hat. You can do similar things in the wild. If you remain still, the birds will come around. 2. Get a decent monopod. Right now I have a torn tendon in my shoulder. I feel naked going for a walk without my camera but can't hold it up or steady with the bad shoulder. The monopod is light, expandable and allows for a variety of camera angles. 3. Lean on stuff a lot. Tucking elbows, etc is all easier said than done. Lean on a tree, a door jamb, a wall, a car all with an arm or both elbows. Easy peasy. Some super advanced photographers will give a lot of well meaning advice. I like to try to think of what would have helped me most. Getting focused birds on high require a few things, the first of which is steadiness, so lean if you need to do so. Lens length is important, of course. The other thing is the focus setting on your camera. To successfully shoot birds in trees, etc, your camera must be set on spot focus. It's hard enough to get the camera to focus on the critter and not the leaves or branches as it is. Without a single spot focus, it's nearly impossible. A quick comment about the bird bath. My yard is surrounded by a brick wall. Instead of a birdbath in my yard, I have three heavy dishes, each about 2 inches deep, placed on the walls. They have to be filled every morning (I live in the desert so the agua tends to go fast) but they are easier to keep clean. They are also better during the winter. After sunset, I can dump the day's water out and refill with fresh in the morning. I learned to do that because it's easier than trying to thaw frozen water when you wake up (yes, it freezes in the Sonoran desert). Happy shooting!
  3. AZLaurie

    Good Camera For Beginning Birder?

    About a year ago, I upgraded from my beginner's Canon EOS T3i, which was actually very good, but had rather slow continuous shooting (maybe 5 fps) to a Canon EOS 7D Mark II. It was a great choice. There are dozens of combinations of ways to set the focus, from spot point to 64 point and 5 or 6 different methods to select the type of motion you're shooting. All of that is pretty complicated, and I haven't mastered it all yet (including the daunting menu), but nailing down the basics is easy. The best part of this camera for shooting birds, especially hummingbirds is it's speed. You can get up to 10 fps. That's pretty awesome. It's a bit heavier than what I was used but I can't imagine any better camera to capture motion.
  4. AZLaurie

    SEAZ quick trip recap

    I don't think you gave much of an effort in Madera Canyon. At different times of the day you'll see different birds at the Santa Rita Lodge feeding area. But you didn't seem to attempt any trails. Proctor Trail, for instance, is a great hot spot. Both there and at the beginning of the Mt. Baldy Trail, you could have searched for the Elegant Trogan. Madera boasts over 250 different species of birds (and 15 species of hummingbirds, depending on the season). I recently saw Lucifers, Magnificents, Broad-tails and White-eared hummers besides the ones you mentioned.
  5. AZLaurie

    What are the Best Birding Places in the USA?

    I recommend southeastern Arizona. Madera Canyon is widely considered one of the top three birding areas in the US. It is home to over 250 species of birds, including 15 hummingbird species. Besides Madera Canyon, places like Patagonia, Sonoita, Tumacácori and Nogales are birding hotspots. This is a Painted Redstart I got in Madera Canyon. Ourr proximity to Mexico allows viewing of an extreme number of birds not available in other parts of the country (not even in other parts of Arizona!) hotpots.
  6. AZLaurie

    Need ID Confirmation

    Thanks, folks. If it is indeed a female American Goldfinch it's an unusual sighting for this location. I checked on the ebird sightings and the most recent one anywhere near me was in February of this year. Even in the Santa Rita Mountains/Madera Canyon, the last reported sightings were in May 2016. Of course, I guess it's possible it could have been passing through my desert valley on it's way into the Coronado National Forest. There's a first time for everything. Btw, we just had a massive wildfire up there. About 60,000 acres burned - the 13th largest in AZ history. Just contained yesterday. This area is home to the only known jaguar in North America and also the only area in N.A. where all four big cats have been photographed (by the same camera in a 24 hr period!)
  7. I'm a bit confounded by this bird. It fits all identification markers for an immature lesser goldfinch...except the bill. I would have expected it to be straight and more cone-like. This one has a curve. Perhaps it's not fully formed but I could use either confirmation of my ID or suggestions as it may relate to other species. The photo was taken on 28 April 17 in Green Valley, AZ. That is about 30 miles south of Tucson and 40 miles north of the Mexican border at Nogales.