Monte Casino Bird Walk Report

Michael Laubscher Michael 3 Comments

This past weekend myself and Johan Van Zyl hosted a digital photography course and a walk through the Monte Casino Bird Gardens.

Firstly I would like to thank all who joined and I am sure we can all agree, it was truly a great way to spend a weekend.

For those of you who could not join us, this is a what took place.

Digital Photography Course 

Guests started arriving at the Wild Eye office at about 8am on Saturday morning, enjoyed a cup of coffee and some muffins.

The presentation with the ins and outs of digital photography started at around 9am, a number of practical exercises throughout the day, a good lunch, great laughs and chats.

By the end of the day which was around 3pm, everyone who stepped into the doors at 8am, stepped out with a much more confident look on their face as they now understand how their camera (which they always left on auto) works. Not only knowing what to look for while looking through their frame, but how and what the different modes do. Where to find these modes, how to change settings and where and what all the buttons are used for.

In all honesty, seeing people who had almost no idea on how to use their camera, now understanding it all moving their way forward to master the art is such a rewarding feeling!

The digital photography course came to a successful end but the activities did not end there.

Monte Casino Bird Gardens

The very next day, we all met at the entrance of  Monte Casino Bird Gardens to put all the theoretical knowledge to practice.

As we entered the gardens and moved to the first enclosure where we had a good opportunity to play with depth of field.

The subject was a stork standing on a rock. The reason we pointed this out was to practice depth of field. For the first image we asked everyone to blur out the background (which was a wall and fence) and for the second we asked to bring the background into focus.

Everyone nailed that and so we moved on.

We then stopped at a very dark pond that was home to two beautiful Coscoroba Swans. This was perfect to play with exposure compensation.


Well, your camera will register a lot of dark areas in the frame and only a bit of white coming from the birds. Everyone knew that they had to underexpose (which is BRILLIANT) to stop their cameras from trying to make those dark areas lighter (18% Grey) and overexposing the swans.

As we moved along the enclosures along the way had thick dark mesh around them to keep the birds in. Not the best for photography BUT a great way to learn how to use your manual focus or to find focus looking “through” something and master it then so that when you out in the field one day and a leopard is behind dense bush, don’t put your camera down, make it work!

Everyone had a great time photographing the Parakeets as they could work on photographing close up subjects, into a bright sky, rapid moving subjects and so on.

An announcement saying that the bird show would be starting in ten minutes signalled that it was time to head to the amphitheater. We all sat together and chatted about what type of images the group had in mind and the settings to achieve their desired shots.

This show is great to practice photographing either fast moving/running animals as well as fast flying birds.

Creativity kicked in which is great!

A lot of the guests were interested in trying out panning/slow shutter images. Trying this on a small bird would have been tricky we made some recommendations on panning the larger subjects and the guests nailed it once again!

The show sadly came to an end but what a blast!

Here is a bit of a sneak peak as to what it was about.

The theoretical skills were put to good practice and by looking at the results I’m sure they will stick.

Well done and a big thanks again to the group!

If you are interested in joining us next time, the next digital photography course will be on Saturday 4 March 2017 and there are still spots open.

This will be followed by a bird walk at the Monte Casino bird gardens on Sunday 5 March 2017 to put what you have learnt to practice.

Until then.

Happy snapping!


About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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