Wednesday, June 04, 2014

On Digiscoping

Pheasant Branch Conservancy - Prairie Parcel

Baxter's Hollow and Spring Green Preserve are great natural areas to visit, but there's plenty of beauty to see and photograph at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I'm not sure if I've ever written about it here, but I first discovered the conservancy around 1986 or 1987. I lived on Amherst Road in Middleton, only a block away from one the conservancy's entrances. I can't recollect my first visit there now, but I'm confident I must have been blown away to have something so awesome mere yards from my apartment.

Though I've always been fascinated by birds, I wasn't much of a birder or photographer when I first began exploring Pheasant Branch. In fact, I didn't even own a camera until 1990. As I recall, it was a Vivitar point-and-shoot film camera that I used on trips. It wasn't until I became interested in astrophotography that I started using an SLR. It was a Yashica FX Super 2000. I still have that camera and it was the first one I used to photograph birds.

Today it's digiscoping and macro photography with a DSLM. Apart from my scope and tripod, all my camera gear fits in a small backpack. The carbon fiber tripod I have weighs around five pounds and the scope is a little lighter than that. It's a compact and easy rig to carry around through the woods and prairies.

I remember about five or six years ago a photographer I know said I had pushed the limits of digiscoping as far as anyone possibly could. It's odd to reflect on that comment now because I feel my work has markedly improved since then. And I still feel there's room for improvement! Well, digital camera technology has advanced considerably, but I certainly wouldn't call my digiscoping rig a "glorified point-and-shoot camera" as one photographer recently put it to a friend of mine who digiscopes.

Hey, I really like the gear I have. I like what I'm able to achieve with it and have a ton of fun doing it. That's really all that matters. The only person I'm competing with is myself. As Michael Forsberg once told me: "Work within the boundaries of the gear you have and try to tell a story with your photographs." That was the best advice from any photographer I ever received and sometime after that I began writing this blog. That was 2005.

Sometimes I wonder just how long I'll keep this blog going, though. I've caught myself pondering on a decade being a perfect stopping point. It would be a lot easier just to upload images to a Facebook album and share it with my friends and family. If I do stop blogging in February 2015, then this was/is the final spring I will have documented on this blog. Well, it will end one way or another, but for now I see no signs of stopping.

Recently at Pheasant Branch Conservancy…

Common Yellowthroat

Indigo Bunting

Brown Thrasher

Orchard Oriole

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Kingbird

Peck's Skipper



Cream Wild Indigo

White Wild Indigo


All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. I hope you will continue to share your gift via your blog for many years to come.