Because I am a habitual park visitor, fisherman, photographer and boater, I have been fortunate to be able to view its waters and wildlife from many vantage points most visitors never experience. Wild animals seem unafraid of a quiet fisherman intent only on getting his line wet in the water. It is something many of them just sense. As a photographer, you learn to sit quietly and allow the birds and wildlife to forget you are there. When on your boat slowly navigating the isolated corners of Presque Isle Bay, Cormorants’ nesting, schools of fish loafing just below the surface of the water and a deer or two wandering on the shoreline make the routine day trip delightful.
You will notice that birds and other wildlife will continually keep a safe distance from you. Using binoculars brings you closer to them without frightening them away. Whenever Nancy and I are on thepeninsula –on the boat, walking or even driving around – we have binoculars to view the wildlife. I also have a spotting scope in my car at all times. This I use on a tripod, and
maybe someday I’ll figure out how to set it up to use with my camera. I have seen it done, just not by me. So, I know it’s possible, yet never find the time to figure out how it is done.
All binoculars are marked with numbers that indicate the magnification power, the diameter in millimeters of each of the lenses and usually the field of view at a distance of 1,000 yards. If you are looking at your binoculars and the number reads “740/327”, that means that set where it is, it has the power to magnify an object seven times. That’s the seven in 740. In other words, making it appear seven times closer to you than it actually is. The 40 measures the diameter of the lens. When you see the 327, this indicates the binoculars are showing the portion of the subject and the landscape 327 feet wide.
One of the problems with high-powered binoculars is that it becomes more difficult to hold them steady. This is similar to the problems of holding a long lens on a camera. A 10x power will even amplify the simple natural tremble of your hand. If you cannot hold the binoculars still, your wildlife watching will become frustrating. If you plan on using your binoculars for wildlife viewing, I think a minimum of 7x and a maximum of 8x power is fine. I really like the larger 40-millimeter or more, large lens. This lens will gather the available light much better than the smaller 35-millimeter. Yes, it is more expensive, but it is worth the added cost.
When you buy your binoculars, you will need to experiment on the best way to use them. When I am in the lagoons, I use my naked eyes, or cheat a little and use my 100mm camera lens to survey the scene. I look high and low, in the water and in the trees and on the lily pads and the cattails. Remember, that bird, turtle or frog can be anywhere. Once sighted, I zero in with my binoculars for closer observation.
In larger spaces, I believe you need to start slowly scanning the whole area with your binocular. Look carefully at every different looking shape or form. That Scarlet Tanager may be hiding in a patch of wild sunflowers and be very easy to miss. In nature, I have learned to expect the unexpected.
Prices for binoculars range from cheap to ridiculous; shop with care. The other day I looked on Amazon, and they have over 500 offered at all kinds of different prices. I suggest that you go to Amazon and read the comments from buyers. These comments might help you choose a good pair of binoculars to make your nature dream come true.
See you on the park!!
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