Bird photographers can hone their craft this weekend


By Steve Guntli

The Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival will provide photographers of all experience levels the opportunity to hone their skills. The three-day festival is hosting several workshops dedicated to helping shutterbugs improve the quality of their photos.

Beginners can start at the Blaine Middle School cafeteria on Saturday, March 14. Ken Salzman is teaching a free workshop, “The Basics of Photographing Birds,” from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. Salzman, an avid birder and teacher at Whatcom Community College, will walk people through what to look for when setting up shots and a few tips and tricks to get the best photos possible.

More advanced photographers can benefit from the experience of a renowned expert. Paul Bannick, an accomplished wildlife photographer whose work has appeared in “Sunset” magazine, “Audubon” magazine and the New York Times, returns to the festival for his course on advanced bird photography. No camera or lens is required to take this course, but there is a $25 registration fee. Register at Blaine Middle School. The course will be held Saturday at the Blaine Harbor Boating Center from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

For those looking for a new angle, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, photographer Joe Meche will introduce digiscoping, a technique for capturing close-up images. Meche, a writer and photographer with more than 60 years of birding experience, has practiced the technique for years. It involves the use of a digital camera attached to a spotting telescope, which allows the photographer to capture high-resolution close-ups from a great distance.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras, scopes and tripods, as the class will take a short field trip to try digiscoping techniques outside. The free class will begin at Blaine Middle School.

On Sunday, March 15, class participants can head to the Birch Bay Visitor’s Center to put their new skills to use. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Birch Bay photographers Eric Ellingson and Wayne Diaz will lead a wildlife photo shoot around Birch Bay. The tour is free to attend, but only 25 people can participate, so as not to frighten any birds.

For a full schedule of events at the Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival, visit

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