My Camera Gear – Canon 40 D

by John Briggs on February 13, 2009

in Bird Photographs, Blog, Site News

Some of you have asked me, “what camera equipment do you have?” Others want to know what camera settings I use when photographing birds. Do I use a tripod, or do I freehand the shots? What kind of post-processing do you do?

While I can answer most of these questions, camera settings depend on lighting, your subject and other factors. My best advice would be to practice. Experiment with various settings on your camera and get a good book that goes into detail in digital photography.

Canon 40D with 100-400mm L IS lens | Click for larger view

Canon 40D with 100-400mm L IS lens | Click for larger view

My equipment is shown on the left. You may think that this looks like a strange  apparatus for taking pictures of birds. Let me tell you, I would be lost with out this rig!

Here is the run down on the parts of this contraption:

Links are included to the respective manufacturers

  • Canon40D 10.1 megapixel camera
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens
  • BushHawk Shoulder Mount

I use the BushHawk to help steady the camera/lens combo. Although the lens is image stabilized, the shoulder mount helps with making things even more steady while taking the picture. The red button on the front of the mount is the focus/shutter button. I shoot in the manual mode, making my own settings. I also have a camo cover for the lens which covers the white areas of the barrel.

I use this rig when out in the field birdwatching. If I will be in a blind, or at a location where the bird action is in a limited area (such as the Osprey at Damariscotta), I will use a tripod. I most always wear camouflage.

My work-flow for post-processing is done with Photoshop CS3. I shoot my photos in the RAW format. The RAW file format is digital photography’s equivalent of a negative in film photography: it contains untouched, “raw” pixel information straight from the digital camera’s sensor.


  • Crop
  • Adjust Curves/Levels if needed
  • Noise Reduction
  • Sharpening
  • Save in low resolution for web use

I am by no mean a professional photographer. There is plenty of room for improvement in my techniques. Each time I go out and photograph the beautiful birds that God has placed before us, I try new and different ways to capture their beauty.

Here are links to a few books that I have used to get me started:


As you may have noticed, the blog roll widget no longer sits in the sidebar on the right side of this page. There were too many links, making the page long and cumbersome.

You will notice in the menu bar at the top of the page that I have a link to a page that now holds the blog roll. Simply click “Birding Links” to see all of the links to my birding friends out there in the blogosphere.

Happy birding!



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