4 September 07

Pondering Optics

Birders are a generous, affable bunch. So are bird artists. As I head into my second week of Bird by Bird, I’ve been wondering what equipment bird artists used. So, instead of just pondering, I called Keith Hansen.

Keith’s working on a huge project — birds of the Sierra Nevada — and while we spoke he was applying watercolor to the throat of an immature barn swallow. He likes to use a scope when he sketches because it leaves your hands free. I’ve been thinking about a small scope, concretely the Nikon 50 mm ED, but asked him about a monocular — he thought it wouldn’t be great for him because he has very large hands and at that point might as well use binoculars. (I did take a very small, light pair of Olympus binoculars to the zoo yesterday, and they worked very well.)

Keith did tell me that he liked to sketch from bird video he had taken and told me about a crazy double-rigged tripod (scope and video camera, “kind of heavy,” he said). You can wait for the perfect magic pose and pause it. I like sketching from DVD though tape in the old days was better, because it shuddered on pause and gave you the illusion the bird was moving.

Anyway, we chatted about Dave Sibley and Lars Jonsson and Gambell and king eiders and Danny Gregory and it was so very, very pleasant of him to take the time to talk with me, he having just had the first or thereabouts Marin county record of a calliope hummingbird and then a ruby-throat too. Take a stroll through his gallery if you find yourself in Bolinas. Take a stroll through his gallery even if you need to make Bolinas a destination, because it’s well worth your detour…

Um. I’ll be in New York on Friday, meeting friends. I’ll be heading to B&H to look at optics on my way to lunch…

Posted by at 09:03 PM in Bird By Bird | Link | Comment [1]