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Steady does it

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BY JIM SMITH
There’s no question, attempting to photograph flying birds or a fleeting antelope is difficult at best. Maybe even impossible. When using your view finder, it is hard to anticipate a bird’s flight path. Some of us may recall the “sports sight” on some of our older cameras. This was just a wider view of your shooting area, but it went away. Now, using a simple BSA Red Dot RD30 scope with the new and improved Xtend-a-Sight Plus, you will be able to pick up your subject quicker and follow it for multiple exposures.
These products retail for $26.95 each. The scope plate slides into a camera’s hot shoe. After you attach it to the scope, you will only have one piece of equipment to handle.
The Xtend-a-Sight and scope combo can simplify your life. Here are a few techniques to getting the most out of using this unit:
1. Place the camera strap over your head and brace the camera by holding it out in front of you to steady it. Make sure the strap is pulling against your neck with no slack.
2. The “gold standard” for focusing when shooting wildlife has been to set your metering mode, or focus, to dot or spot metering. Instead, set it to a center-weighted or evaluative mode. When focusing on moving subjects, aim for the head as opposed to aiming for the eye.
3. Do not focus so tight on your subject that you do not have enough room to later edit and crop the image.
4. For large animals, I’ll typically set the aperture priority at f/5.6 – 8.0. I’ll change that whenever I am shooting birds. Within that range is the sweet spot for my lens, where I can expect reasonably good sharpness. However, when in doubt, shoot program mode, paying attention to the ISO and ensure the speed is equal or close to the stated focal length of the lens.
5. Use the No. 5 position on your scope for the laser intensity. I find it easier than the lower numbers and I just like it better.
6. The auto focus on most digital cameras has different modes. For Canon, they are one shot, al focus, and al servo. The Nikon cameras refer to these modes as single servo AF [S] and continuous servo AF [C]. I try and keep my camera on the Al Servo focus, which means that your lens automatically tracks the subject in the frames, keeping it
in focus.
Use a shutter speed of 1/1000 per second in order to freeze the action.
I want my camera programed to AEB (bracketing) or Sports mode so that I can shoot images continuously, just by holding the shutter button down.
Point the camera toward where the subject currently is and then pan ahead to where you think you should begin shooting your photos. Now move your feet (and body) to face this second position. Keeping your feet pointing toward this second position, rotate at your waist to point your camera back to the subject’s current location. This way, as you start photographing, following the subject with your camera, you will not be all twisted and unstable as you
press the shutter release.
Continue following your subject and pressing on the shutter button. This is an important step. Don’t stop your swing — follow through! ♦
—Residing in Surprise, Ariz., Jim Smith has been a member since 1992. He is a freelance writer and photographer. Contact him at jamestsmith@cox.net.
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