Digiscoping for Dummies (that'll be me then)

You will have noticed that I’ve been blathering on about digiscoping rather a lot lately and littering your feeds with photos of birds I’ve seen in my yard.


So at the request of Murder by Death and Themis-Athena, I thought I’d show you exactly what I’m talking about.


My kit 

My scope is a Swarovski ATM65 with a wide-angle lens, which I’ve had for about three years. I did a lot of research on scopes before choosing this particular model, and rented one for a week on a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to see how I got on with it. The scope and I got on so well, that during the vacation I telephoned my local Mass Audubon shop and ordered one (they had a special 15% discount that I didn’t want to miss).


I don’t always take my scope with me when I’m birding; usually it’s just my binoculars. But if I’m going somewhere where I will be spending most of my time in one place, then the scope is fantastic. I can set it up and wait to see what comes along.


The next parts of my kit are the little plastic doohickeys. They snap together with my iPhone going into the case and the round piece fitting over the lens. I got mine from a company called Meopta. They have a huge range to fit all scopes and phones, and they're pretty inexpensive. 


There are some extremely expensive options for those people who want to attach a camera rather than a phone, but I don't need that seeing as my husband is usually around with his camera. I just wanted a quick and dirty option for having a bit of fun and for ID purposes just in case hubby hasnt got the camera. 


out in the field (or in the yard)

So this is what it looks like when it's all set up. The thing that has improved my photos no end, is the discovery (ah the wonders of the internet) that if I plug in a set of headphones which have the volume control widget, I can use those to trigger the shutter rather than touching the phone which causes a very slight movement and makes the photos a little bit blurry.

The next step is to focus the camera on the feeder (or whatever I want to photograph), set up my sun-lounger and a table for my drink, and lie back and wait for the birds to arrive.


Once I've taken my photos, I'll look at them on the iPad and discard any that are blurry or over-exposed (that's most of them). I then use an app called Snapseed to enhance the pictures I do like. Although the picture I posted of the blue jay need absolutely no enhancement whatsoever. It was just one of those lucky shots. 


And that's pretty much all there is to it. Of course the birds aren't always obliging and will go and sit on a different feeder from the one I'm focusing on.


So, Murder by Death, I am now looking forward to seeing pictures from your digiscoping exploits.