Background Check

A lot of digiscoping tips and discussions center around gear and technique.  These are certainly key considerations but once your rig is dialed in it is important to also spare some thought for composition.

On 3 January 2015 my wife mentioned that a Sharp-shinned Hawk was out in the back yard.  While this isn’t too unusual around here in the winter, this time the bird was out in the open on a bare perch, alternately eating a junco and digesting peacefully in a yard emptied of other bird life.  Knowing that sated raptors will often stay put, I grabbed my 65mm APO-Televid scope, iPhone 5s, and Phone Skope adapter to shoot some video.

The little hawk cooperated as hoped, letting me set up to film from my back porch.  But I hope you’ll notice that from this vantage there was a pretty busy background with lots of tangled branches & twigs.  Satisfied with what I was able to get at first, I considered other options seeing as the Sharpie seemed content to stay put.  (An important factor to avoid flushing raptors is keeping your distance- one of the many advantages of digiscoping!)  I slowly repositioned to recompose the shot, this time with the dark branches of a blue spruce tree behind the hawk.  This offered a less distracting, more dramatic background that I think enhances the bird’s features.

Anyway, remember that the most important part of any photographic rig is the eye and brain behind the camera.  Work a shot when you can to find the ideal lighting & background to bring out the best of your subject!

Enjoy- Bill Schmoker, Leica Birding Team