First-day photos

“Practise, practise, practise.” If I had a dollar for everyone who told me that, I’d have enough for a Chai latte. I’ve just bought a Canon 7D with a 100-400mm L IS USM lens and having never before owned a DSLR, or even a SLR, I’m about to embark on an exciting learning journey.

We live on a small acreage in Victoria, Australia. Our property is predominantly Swamp Scrub which is an endangered eco-system crammed with tea-tree, swamp paperbarks, swamp gums and a dense understorey. We call it Karrawah, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty of birds sit down here’ which is blissfully appropriate as I have recorded almost 120 species so far. So, with the battery charged, the memory card in place and my new camera cradled in my hands I felt confident that I’d find birds in the garden. My first stop, the moment the sun rose, was the unnetted fig tree.


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) – caught red-handed
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, AE priority, handheld, natural light

 Silvereye – I kept very still and they soon got back to business

 Silvereye – as they were leaving there was this sweet pose


After taking my first photographs of the Silvereyes a Grey Fantail appeared on the apricot tree beside me.

 Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albicapa) – this little bird is 15mm long and 9g of pure delight, unless you are a flying insect.
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, AE priority, handheld, natural light


Later the same day I wandered into the bushland and did a spot of pishing, otherwise described as making strange kissing sounds against your hand to attract curious birds. I don’t do it often, it sounds stupid, but it usually works. Brown and Striated Thornbills came close but were hidden amongst foliage and then an Eastern Yellow Robin arrived, resplendent in his yellow waistcoast and so trusting.

 Eastern Yello Robin (Eospsaltria australis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, AE priority, handheld, natural light

 Eastern Yellow Robin


The robin flew so close that it filled the viewfinder. I didn’t think to pull back on the zoom, all I could think of was to turn the camera. Then I fumbled what could have been a beautiful shot by mis-focusing and getting a silhouetted robin against a mottled background. The EXIF data helped me work out my mistake – I use the EXIF data a lot! I’m pleased with this photo as a starter image, I like the catch-light in its eyes, the feather details and the backlit halo.


NOTE: Not long after photographing this robin a Brown Goshawk ate it, or one of its family, for lunch. I took a series of photographs which can be seen in Eastern Yellow Robin for Lunch.


At this stage I’m not doing any post-processing apart from cropping. There are many ways to improve photos that I’m still to learn but these are my first Canon 7D bird images, and they are small birds and they are actually visible in the photos – I’m stoked!


Happy birding, Kim




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