Begin Your Photography Journey

Puento Nuevo - Ronda Spain
Photograph of Puento Nuevo (New Bridge) in Ronda, Spain

In a previous post, Photography: A Pathway to Creativity, I wrote about how my photography hobby has led me down so many creative, interesting and fulfilling paths. I encourage everyone who may have the slightest inkling to become involved with this dynamic hobby/vocation to do so. Many who have an interest might fear getting starting because they think they lack sufficient knowledge.

Let me tell you, there are plenty of people who are willing to help and guide you. And the good news is that some of the best offer free or very reasonably priced advice and resources, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

Let’s talk cameras…

When digital photography first arrived circa 1989, the quality of the photos were rather poor compared to film cameras. Today, digital cameras have vastly improved an I recommend starting with a digital camera.

There are certain advantages:

  • No cost for film
  • Once captured digitally, pictures can be enhanced with software
  • Storage of images is easy and takes up relatively little physical space
  • Most digital cameras are light
  • Results of the capture are immediate which allows time to correct exposure, composition, etc. if necessary

The question then becomes which camera should I buy if I am just starting out?

Let me just begin by suggesting that almost any digital camera from a recognized brand will render very good to excellent pictures. When starting out, there needn’t be an investment of large sums of money. My first “real” digital camera was a Nikon D3300 which I still use. I have even sold some images captured with it.

Here is a good article to get you started:

The best camera for photography in 2020: top cameras, whatever your skill level!

NOTE – The Nikon D3500 would be the replacement for my D3300 mentioned above.

If you are interested in a particular camera and want a second opinion, you can check out a couple of other review sites. Ken Rockwell for example, has this to say about the Nikon D3500.

“The Nikon D3500 is Nikon’s newest, lightest and least expensive DSLR. It’s only $450 brand new, complete with a fantastic 18-55mm AF-P VR lens. As you can see at the Sample Images, this lens is all you really need: it’s super sharp and does just about everything well.”

You can check out other cameras at Ken’s Website

Another good independent website is DP Review – click on the Reviews tab or the Cameras tab to investigate some options.

I am not recommending or suggesting the purchase of the D3500 or any other particular camera. I am just mentioning it because I am familiar with Nikon’s “beginner” cameras and I have been satisfied with them.

Some will say that gear (type and make of camera) is not important. Well, I disagree with that to a minor extent. It doesn’t matter within a range. Developing the necessary skills is the most important aspect of photography. If I gave a beginner one of the very expensive and top rated cameras, they would have difficulty capturing an excellent photograph with it. I daresay that having a “beginner” camera with some of the necessary skills would probably yield better results.

One of my favorite photographers to follow online who produces much valuable information for free is Scott Bourne. Here is a link to one of his more recent blog posts about the important skills for photographers.

Five Steps Toward Mastering Photography

Once you have purchased a camera, read and studied a bit, the excitement begins!

This is an article just for those starting out in photography. It will give you some idea of how to approach taking pictures and explain some of the key concepts.

7 Key Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners


One last word of guidance if you are interested in photography. Reading and studying are good as far as they go, but to learn the skills necessary you have to get out there and make pictures! Keep your camera with you whenever you can safely do so!


See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 –

Hassayampa Preserve Bird Walk – 20180203

It was quite a while since we had a good dose of nature and the warmer than usual winter has given us added impetus to “go outside!” An opportunity presented itself which allowed us to combine two of our interests, bird watching and hiking. As I have explained on these pages before, I am an “occasional birder.” I enjoy birds and bird identification, but I am not ardent. I take it as it comes and it adds enjoyment to my wanderings.

We registered for a guided bird walk at the Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg, AZ. This is riparian zone that has running water all year long; a rarity for the desert. As such, many birds are attracted to this wooded environment. The warmer temperatures have brought featehred visitors that don’t usually come this far south during February.

The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

If you have never done bird watching, then it may be difficult understand the highs and lows of the experience. There will be those in the group who see so many birds while you might be gazing at the leaves and branches and wondering: “What do they see?” or “Where is that bird?”

Below is an example of one of the frustrations. This bird appeared on the top of a nearby Cottonwood tree. It was vey much in view although quite a distance away. Unless an observer knew this bird from previous experience, it would be difficult to identify.

Phainopepla hard to identify from a distance

I had seen this bird several times before so I knew it was a Phainopepla. One distinguishing characteristic is its red eye which, because of the distance and lighting, was not visible. The black tuft on top of the head is also a distinguishing feature. I was able to get my best picture to date of this bird in November. You can see it HERE.

When I attended my first guided bird walk, I was surprised to learn that most birders don’t rely on sightings to identify the bird at first. They identify the call or song and then look for the specific bird. I must admit that this is a skill which mostly eludes me. I do know certain very defined bird calls like the Mourning Dove, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, etc., but all those chip-chip-chips and too-wees just escape my grasp. This is one reason I greatly appreciate having a guide.

The bird in the picture below, for example, was identified as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The birds are particularly difficult to identify and even more so to photograph. They jump around incessantly. Although this bird is totally shaded, the guide followed it from several trees and was able to identify it for us. I take her word for it!

Flitting Ruby-crowned singled silhouette

Another photo of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The most distinguishing mark of this bird is a red tuft on the top if the head. The angle, lighting and other factors did not capture this marking.

Better view of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet

You can see much better photos of this bird HERE.

There were some birds that were more conveniently situated and thus more easily identifiable such as this Hermit Thrush. The problem here is that the bird has very distinctive spots on its whiteish underbelly, but as you will note, that characteristic was not clearly visible from the back.

Hermit Thrush

The lesser Goldfinches were a bit more cooperative once the morning warmed a bit. They would cling to the thin branches of a nearby bush and pose for a while. The trick here is to take a number of pictures as the autofocus (which I use for birding*) will sometimes choose to focus on a foreground branch and render the bird out-of-focus.

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

Black Phoebes often will flit away and then return to the same branch from which they flew so it may be easy to wait a moment while gaining focus on the perch and then snap the shot once the bird returns. The first shot has only the back of the bird, but it later turned sideways for a profile shot.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

The next series is of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Woodpeckers, creepers and other similar birds cling to the side of trees and climb upward. They will then fly to a nearby tree and begin to hop while ascending that tree. It appears to me that they know when they are being watched and they scoot to the side of the tree away from the viewer so they can hide. At least it seems that way!

While the pictures are a bit blurry because the bird was madly pecking away, the distinctive markings are visible.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

One last sighting before we left revealed three Western Bluebirds sitting on the same branch. They were catching the mid-morning rays of the sun. The blue of their backs does not show that well, but the rufous color of their underside is clearly visible.

Western Bluebirds

Additional sightings by me and others, but not photographed:

  • Abert’s Towhee
  • American Coot
  • Brown Creeper
  • Canyon Wren
  • House Finch
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Verdin

* NOTE – The only camera I used during this bird walk was my Canon SX50 HS which is a bridge camera with a telephoto zoom lens. Pictures are best at low ISO (200 and below) which limits the aperture and shutter speed. The aim of these photographs was not to capture beautiful pictures of birds, but to take pictures that would enable identification. Of course it would be wonderful to have an excellent photo along the way!

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018

Chipmunk wants to be a Photographer

Chipmunk wants to be a photographer
Even this chipmunk was interested in photography gear!

On a recent hike, we sat down to have some lunch along the trail. It was apparent that the chipmunks were accustomed to people as this particular animal had no hesitation in “hanging around.” Just before we packed up to leave, he hopped on the boulder to examine my cameras.

NOTE – We do not feed the wildlife in any of the places we hike, but this chipmunk had hopes!

See Jeff’s photography on Instagram

Photography: Don’t Check Your Cameras When Flying

The video below shows how baggage is sometimes “sorted” or directed to certain places when moving down the conveyor belt. Imagine if you had your valuable camera or computer equipment in one of these bags and it shifted close to the edge where the arm hits it.

Warning: Don’t Check Your Cameras When Flying

Airport Baggage System pushers at an international airport somewhere. How does the pusher know when to push the bag in the center without spinning it? Only those with brains in advanced technology know!

If you do have to check your equipment or give it up to someone else, try to make sure it is well-padded!