What lens and body do you use?
I use 2 bodies. A D500 and a D4s. The D500 is my workhorse for most smaller birds, and I use the D4s for low light and for more scenic birdscapes. I use the D4s for mammals and large birds like waders. Both are great bodies.
For lenses, my long time go to has been the 500 f4 (older version). This is a solid lens great built and sharp. Used they can be found for $3,500-$5,000 and it is worth every penny. I also use a 300mm F2.8 (used $2-3000). This is a beast for sports, low light, and use it a lot for birds when paired with a 1.4 TC. The main advantage of the 300mm is the closer focus distance (6 ft vs 11ft) This allows me to get really close and intimate with the subjects.
In 2019, I added a 400 2.8 to the line up and this is an amazing blend of low light versatility, shorter focal length, and speed. This lens is super sharp and pairs flawlessly with a 1.4 TC. It has basically rendered my 500 f4 obsolete as I can shoot it as 400 2.8 or 560 f4.
How long have you been shooting?
I started casually in 2013 and got serious fast. I was and still am consumed with learning and developing my art. I study bird behavior and spend lots of time in the field. Currently I shoot on average 2 days a week. Many years I will spend up to 500 hours in the field.
What is your best advice for beginners?
-Seek input from others and be open to feedback. You must accept that you are not going to be good right away and you must have the patience to develop. If you think you are good, you will become stagnant. Be hyper critical of your work.
-Learn. Use blogs, youtube, etc to learn about gear, techniques, editing, and information about your subjects. Those who learn will grow.
-Study behavior. This is HUGE. Find out as much as you can about subject individually and as a species. What do they like? How do they move? Where can you find them? Studying behavior is an important aspect of all wildlife photograph.
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