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Reader photo: Lying low on a muddy lakeshore produces a gorgeous close-up

Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet, Frank Lake, Alberta, August 10, 2013, 8:07 a.m. ©2013 Tim J. Hopwood

Often, the key to a memorable bird photo, says Tim Hopwood, is to put yourself at eye level with your subject. That’s what he did a year ago when he shot the photo above at a lake near Calgary.

Tim Hopwood
Tim Hopwood

Hopwood, an accountant who grew up in Australia and now lives in Calgary, credits Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries from the BBC for sparking his interest in nature. Hopwood began photographing birds about three years ago, and today, he often heads out on weekends and during vacations to takes pictures of birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and landscapes.

Wearing waterproof overalls, Hopwood lay flat on the muddy shoreline, using bulrushes for cover, to shoot shorebirds. He struck gold when a Black-necked Stilt and an American Avocet lined up in one image. He posted the picture to the BirdWatching Magazine group on the photo-sharing site Flickr.

The birds were foraging about 50 feet to his right, gradually worked their way toward him, and were only 15-20 feet away when he got the shot.

“Taking shots from ground-level delivers a unique bird’s-eye view of the world,” he says. “And when you maintain a low profile and limit your movement, it’s amazing how close birds will come, seemingly unfazed by your presence.”

Hopwood used the following equipment and settings to take the photograph:

Camera: Canon 1Dx
Lens: Canon 600mm f/4L IS II with a Canon 1.4x III teleconverter
Settings: Av mode, 1/5000, f/5.6, ISO 640, +1/3 exposure compensation
Light: Natural
Format: RAW converted to JPG
Adjustments: cropped, leveled

A version of this article appeared in the August 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.

Originally Published