Clark's Grebe Adult

Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) adult – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400, natural light

I’ve written before about my addiction to bird photography and today I am beginning to have serious withdrawls. For days it has been raining (sometimes hailing), cloudy and a miserable gray here in the Salt Lake Valley though it seems like two weeks to this bird photographer. It has only been four days since I was out to photograph birds.

Oh sure, there have been sucker holes where the blue sky and fluffy white clouds can be seen. For about 10 minutes. When the sucker holes happen I’m tempted to hop into my Jeep and head anywhere there are birds even if it means I only get to shoot 5 minutes before the rain starts again. That probably sounds very odd to a non-bird photographer.  But it is what it is.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) adult in defensive posture – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The withdrawl symptoms are setting in, my shutter button finger is twitching, when I see a bird outside the window my pulse races, I keep looking longingly at my camera mounted on the tripod in the corner of the living room wondering how long it will be before a fine coating of dust settles on it for lack of use.

I’ve been working my tail feathers off trying to keep my mind occupied. It isn’t helping. I’ve also been reading a book but the author keeps mentioning birds in the story and I can’t seem to focus (sorry for the pun). Sure, the rotten weather is giving me time at my desk to edit and cull the images I have already taken though that just seems make this withdrawl affect me more.

Double-crested Cormorant in flight

Adult Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in flight –  Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I looked at the 10 day weather forecast earlier and saw that this gloomy weather may last until Thursday of next week. That is awful! 

Yes, I am addicted to bird photography.



  1. Julie Brown May 23, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Do you normally get to go out and shoot everyday then? Well, I suppose I should feel sorry for you…but I am really envious! 🙂 These three images you posted are very nice, as is to be expected-so I am assuming that they are from your archives. Nice catch of the cormorant in flight so low over the water.

    • Mia McPherson May 23, 2011 at 4:43 am

      Hi Julie,

      The images posted were taken about a week before this post, the last day with good light. I have had one day since then without rain. I do go out shooting as often as possible but not every day 🙂

  2. Larry Basden May 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Mia your photos are stunning. I just recently found your blog and am enjoying your photos immensely. We will be visiting the West in September and plan to spend at least 2 days in the Salt Lake area to bird (and photograph birds). We visited Antelope Island a few years ago and cannot wait to return with a little more birding and bird photography experience under our belt.

    I do have a gear-head question for you. It seems that most of your photos show 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm. I have been assuming that you mean the lens is fully zoomed to 400mm with the TC attached giving you a focal length of ca. 560mm. Is this correct?

    • Mia McPherson May 23, 2011 at 4:52 am


      Thank you so much for your kind words about my photography. It sure helps to have such beautiful subjects. In September there will be quite a few birds on the island and the causeway to it and you won’t have to deal with the biting gnats (no-see-ums)!

      With my 200-400mm with 1.4x TC attached when I list 400mm in my techs it means fully zoomed out, but I get 550mm for a focal length. With my cropped sensor I actually get more focal length.

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