By Mike Busch

Another fantastic job by the Long Island Wildlife Photography Group this week, thanks to Jim Botta as usual for helping out pick the images below.  The group continues to grow, nearing 13000 members and adding about 50 per week.  Since we have so many new members, I thought it might be time to repost and pass on one of the best tips I have ever received for wildlife photography and focus in general: Back button focus:

We still occasionally include poorly focused images in this feature when the subject or the situation allows but for those of you new to wildlife photography, one of the most important things to get sharp are the eyes.  If your shutter is not fast enough or your focus points are off it is almost possible to get sharp images.  Another issue is the wrong focus point.  For example if a birds neck or wing is perfectly in focus but the head and eyes are blurry it really takes away from the overall image.

The best photography advice I have received and passed on to others is back button focus.  Every modern DSLR has this feature, you will need to do a Google or YouTube search for your particular model.   You are basically removing the focus from the shutter button and moving it to the A/E Lock button, which is in a great spot to handle with your thumb.  When you remove the focusing function from your shutter button you no longer have to worry about holding it down halfway to maintain focus on your subject.  When a bird is in flight, it is easy to push a little too hard and take an out of focus shot.  By the time you recover, the bird will be gone!  

I set my camera to continuous single point focus.  That allows me to hold a different button (AE-Lock) and track the subject and maintain focus the entire time,  allowing the freedom to take the shot at the precise moment I want to or just spray and pray.

This is not just for wildlife photography, it will just become second nature and you will forget how to focus the old way.

It might sound complicated but once you get used to it I doubt you will ever go back!

Here is an article from Nikon that goes into more detail if you are interested.

This weeks cover shot goes to Steven Williams with a great Common Loon shot and as usual, Natalie Ann sent in a great video on the last page featuring backyard birds in the snow.  If you have time check out all 7 pages!

Merlin – Jeanne Eggers

Common Loon with Lunch – Steven Williams

Northern Harrier (Grey Ghost) – Jeanne Eggers

Long-Tailed Duck – Karen Mott

Great Blue Heron – Jeff Gross

Harbor Seal – Vicki Jauron

Bald Eagle & Eel – Jill Weigold Wendling

More photos on pages 2,3,4,5,6, and 7