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Help develop a Bird ID tool!


Featured Photographer

Charles Eldermire

  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Eastern Bluebird fledgling
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Merlin
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Crow
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • American Bittern
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Cedar Waxwings

Charles's Top 5 Tips for Great Phone Photos

Take note of these quick tips to get you started:

  • 1. If your phone allows, hold down the shutter button from the moment you get started. When the shot is ready, just release. You'll get less jiggle and won't get distracted trying to find the button with your finger.
  • 2. Extend your optics' eye relief cups. They will steady the phone and maximize the size of the image you see.
  • 3. Take a lesson from "real" wildlife photographers and plan ahead by studying your quarry's habits. Singing birds often stop moving, some birds (like raptors) go for exposed perches, and feeders attract birds to a consistent spot.
  • 4. Don't worry if part of your image is dark from the barrel of the optics. Just try to make the bright portion as clear and large as possible. You can crop the image later—the iPhone will let you to do this within the phone (just select the part of the image you want, then press Home and Sleep together) .
  • 5. Got the camera phone but don't have the optics? Our observatory at Sapsucker Woods Visitor Center is equipped with several excellent telescopes. Pay us a visit—or check out your local nature center—and give that phone a try!
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About the Photographer

If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd be documenting the world a scant 1 megapixel at a time, the SLR-toting gearhead in me would have scoffed! But the combination of camera phones and the excellent optics available to birders has made "digiscoping" with your phone a very real possibility.

My interest in animal behavior is at the heart of my desire to photograph nature, and I’ve found that every camera comes with its own inherent design constraints. The 3G iPhone is certainly no exception: its fixed focus and low resolution really limit the post-shot applications of the images. But it does come with three upsides: portability, availability, and low expectations!

The fact it's always with me, and is small enough to maneuver up to the eyepiece of binoculars or scope with one hand, has allowed me to be ready whenever anything interesting happens. And since I know the final destination isn't a glossy 8 x 10, I don't stress over getting every little thing right (though I still try).

My hope in exhibiting these photos is to inspire other people to use whatever tools you have on hand to engage the world around you.  Take that camera phone and see what you can get!

—Charles Eldermire, Ithaca, New York

Charles manages the Visitor Center at the Cornell Lab, and many of his iPhone photos made their debut on his Sapsucker Woods Twitter feed. Follow him for more iphoniscoping! He's got more photos—from more cameras—on his Flickr site.