• "MEET A MEMBER" #18 Duade Paton

    Duade is another member from NSW who's passion is bird photography. Duade has made a whirlwind journey from snapping shots of unknown birds to photographing target species all in a little under two years. His enthusiasm & participation on the forum speaks for itself and as result was selected by the co-owners to help moderator F&P.

    What is the first thing you think of in the morning?

    I am a morning person so I get up around 5.20am. If itís a work day I am usually thinking how many more days until I can get out into the field. I usually have my ipad next to the bed so I will usually quickly scan the forum and FB to see whatís new. Then off to work I go :-)

    If itís a birding morning my main thought is ďI hope there are no clouds and please give me some nice light.Ē I will usually attempt to get to my location as the sun is coming up to make the most of the nice light.

    When did you discover birds?

    To be honest I never had a real interest in birds growing up in New Zealand. If you asked me to name the birds in NZ I would have probably said, Fantail, Seagull, Pukeko, Kiwi and Morepork.

    On arrival to Australia in 2003 I admired the uniqueness of Pelicans and the beauty of Galahs but really had no desire to find out more.
    I took my first bird photo on the 11th of November 2011 which was an Australian Magpie on a fencepost. I had just purchased a second hand 70-200L and was using my wife's 40D. I went for a walk down the road and the Magpie was the first thing that landed in front of me. I took its picture and looked at the LCD and thought "Hey that's pretty cool.' From that moment on something twigged in my brain and I have been hooked ever since.

    I have been actively studying and watching birds ever since and I have now seen over 250 species and my Shoalhaven list is closing in on 200.

    When did you start to photograph them?

    As most people know I had a cardiac arrest in July 2011 and spent a week on life support at RPA in Sydney. I had multiple tests and spent a further few weeks in hospital. I now have an internal defibrillator that delivers a shock should my heart develop abnormal arrhythmias or I have another cardiac arrest.

    As a consequence I lost my licence and had some rehabilitation time at home. I started walking through the eucalypt forest around my home and quickly discovered the birdlife within. I starting taking photos of birds and then trying to figure out what species they were.
    Once I started looking online at bird photos I was immediately struck with the high quality shots and wondered why mine were so bad :-)
    I started researching online, reading tutorials and looking at forums. Thankfully I discovered Feathers & Photos in January 2012 and with the good critiques and the sharing of knowledge my photos have improved significantly.

    What was the very first camera that you used and what is your current kit for photographing birds?

    I used my wife's 40D and a 70-200L to begin with but quickly found that 200mm was far too short for birds. I made the error of buying a 2x converter which with my poor technique at the time resulted in very poor shots. Very disillusioned I made the call to buy the sharpest lens available at a reasonable price and purchased the Canon 400 5.6L.

    This was the best decision I made and it was almost night and day the difference between the two set ups. Most of my shots were sharp and I was getting good detail.
    Midway through 2012 I updated my camera to a 7D for the better AF and FPS. So I currently use the Canon 7D and 400 5.6 and I am very happy with the shots I get from this relatively inexpensive set up. I do yearn for better ISO performance and focal length but I have other priorities that demand my finances i.e. a mortgage :-)
    I also use a BENRO c3780T tripod and a cheap Wimberley head. When photographing shorebirds I use a homemade skimmer. I occasionally hand hold but only when I have good light or I am trying to get lower to shoot ducks.

    Do you spend much time photographing anything other than birds?

    At this stage birds is about all I photograph. I have taken a few family shots and shots of my pets but birds is my passion.

    What is it about birds that makes you want to invest so much time and energy pursuing them?

    A great question, I don't think it's any one thing in particular but a combination of factors. I really enjoy the pursuit and hunt of locating a bird then trying to get a nice photo of it. When you get a shot it is very rewarding. I also enjoy the experience of being outdoors and exploring this wonderful country.

    I have also been extremely fortunate to find several other people who have this addiction and it is fun to share these experiences with someone else.

    How many hours each week do you spend in the field?

    I try to get out at least once a week, twice if the stars align. I am very fortunate to work 4x10 hour days giving me three days off a week. I usually go birding on my day off during the week. I have been fortunate that my good birding friends Heyn De Kock and Matthew Jones often get a day off during the week and we try and go birding together.

    Do you spend much time studying your quarry in its habitat or do you simply get out there and start shooting?

    I have slowly built up some local knowledge on several locations around the Shoalhaven. I have a fair idea which locations suit morning or afternoon and which locations should have certain species. I try to shoot in the best light but I am equally happy just exploring areas and watching birds when the weather goes bad.

    What are you trying to portray with your photographs?

    I have been happy trying to continually improve the images of species I have photographed. I My first goal is to get a good field ID shot. Once I have a good shot I will continue to try and improve upon those images and ideally I would attempt to capture some type of behaviour or action.
    I hope to continue to improve my photography and am constantly impressed with the behaviour type shots that several members post on the forum.

    Do you have any interest in birds that doesnít involve photographing them?

    I have taken a passive interest in the plight of several of Australia's endemic species. Over the summer I reported as many banded birds as I could and was interested to see where the birds had originated from.

    I also reported some Little Tern nests I located within the Shoalhaven and attempted to interact with dog walkers in the dog free zones.
    I have just recently purchased a house on an acre of land and plan to plant an extensive native garden to support the many birds in my area.

    Who are you greatest influences in the bird/nature photography world?

    There are too many names to mention but I have been very fortunate to spend time with a number of talented bird photographers. Each one has been very kind and shared their tips and techniques with me. I have then been able to apply those tips to my own photography.

    I have to say the quality of shots on our forum is inspiring and makes me want to continually improve and strive for such good shots.

    If you could go anywhere in the world to photograph birds where would you go?

    I currently have a soft spot for waders and would love to go to Siberia/Alaska and photograph shorebirds showing off their breeding plumage in the tundra.

    The photo that started it all

    Getting down 'n' dirty

    This article was originally published in forum thread: "MEET A MEMBER" #18 Duade Paton started by Chris Martinez View original post