Swans and Digiscoping

Our yearling heifers have been on pasture 45 minutes away from our farm since June. Every couple of days, we check on them to make sure none has crawled through the fence or needs medical help. I checked them on Saturday and enjoyed driving around the countryside on a beautiful fall day. I brought along my scope, Canon SX50 HS camera, new Viking Optical Universal digiscoping adapter and new Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter release.

The heifers are well trained and expect treats, so they all came running toward me as soon as they saw the truck. I gave them their hay which they all enjoyed.

The herd is a mix of crossbreeds including Shorthorn, Black Angus, and Speckle Park,FullSizeRender-3FullSizeRender-4 FullSizeRender-2

Birds were few and far between, but on the way back from the pasture I finally found something to photograph/digiscope. A large group of Tundra Swans were feeding and preening on a slough (pond) north of our farm.

I used my Canon camera for these photos, but the wind picked up and it was tough to keep everything stable.

There were over 100 Tundra Swans on the slough and even though they were on the far side I was able to get some decent photos,IMG_9868 IMG_9874 IMG_9877

I hauled out my scope, iPhone, Viking Optical Universal adapter, and Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter release to digiscope some shots of the swans.

The Bluetooth shutter came in the mail from Phone Skope on Friday and this was my first chance to test it out. The shutter release removes all contact with the phone to prevent shake and blurry photos. It’s very handy and an excellent tool for digiscoping.

Getting the correct exposure on white birds can be tricky, especially on water. These photos are a little overexposed and there’s also a bit of chromatic aberration outlining the swans. I took photos of the swans three different ways with the iPhone’s camera, with the Pro Camera app, and with the Manual app, playing around with the exposure and other settings.

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter, Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and the Manual app

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter, Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and the iPhone’s camera

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter, Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and the Pro Camera app

I drove to another slough, where there were only 10 swans, some Mallards, Northern Pintails, and this muskrat house, which is at least three feet tall,IMG_9880Though there were fewer swans, these were a little more co-operative as they were closer to the shore,

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They weren’t too concerned by my presence and were busy preening and spreading their wings. This is one of my favourite shots from the afternoon,IMG_9906  IMG_9915

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, Phone Skope Bluetooth Shutter, Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece, and the iPhone’s camera

Viking Smart Phone Adapter: First Impressions

:: I received a Viking Optical Smart Phone adapter from the company for review; all opinions and writing are my own ::

Viking Optical is a UK company that makes scopes, binoculars, and optics accessories including their Universal Smart Phone Adaptor, which is designed to allow any smart phone to attach to a spotting scope. Viking is an independent company in the UK with a long history of supporting conservation organizations, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife International, the species champion for the Forest Owlet and Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher.

This digiscoping adapter is comprised of two elements — a platform to support the smartphone and a collar that twists and locks onto the platform.

Viking Optical has a choice of five collar sizes designed to be compatible with five scope models: 39mm (RSPB AG), 48mm (Viking ED Pro Zoom, Viking AW Zoom),
55mm (Swarovski ATS/STS Zoom; Kowa TSN 770/880 Series, Zooms and 30x),
56mm (Leica APO Televid 65/82 Zoom; RSPB HD Zoom), 59mm (Swarovski ATX). The collars will also work with other brands. I was sent the 55mm and 56mm collars as we weren’t sure which would fit my older-model scope. The 55mm collar fits best on my scope’s eyepiece and provides the most support for the platform.

Just align the phone’s camera with the centre of the adapter’s opening. Secure the phone in place by tightening with the four adjustable flexible rubber clamps which are tightened to hold the phone in place. The clamps can be removed and placed in different sections for a better fit no matter the design/model or thickness of the phone. Once secured, the camera is able to rotate within the adapter, alternating between portrait and landscape shots.

This adapter would be great to share on birding walks with other birders since various phones can be switched in and out to get digiscoped photos.

Another benefit to this adapter is that I’m able to leave on my protective phone case while using this adapter. Setting up the adapter for use is simple, and the adapter is both lightweight and sturdy. It also fits inside a larger jacket pocket, and comes with a detachable lanyard in case you find yourself pocketless.

The Black-capped Chickadees at my feeders are great for practicing my digiscoping technique.

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, and Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, and Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece

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Photo taken with an iPhone 6, Viking Optical Universal adapter, and Swarovski ATM 80 scope with 20-60 zoom eyepiece