My real name is Paul Almendinger. I am a 34 year-old self-proclaimed bird nerd from Hillsborough, New Jersey. I have always enjoyed nature, though honestly, I was always too busy working in it to slow down and enjoy it the way I do now. After 19 years of abusing my body daily, I decided the pain of making a living at tree work just wasn't worth the good paycheck it gave me. I took some time off and spent a year birding with a retired friend of mine.
So how did I get into taking images of nature - specifically birds - you ask?
Every year my family takes a fishing trip to Canada and the P&S I had at the time decided it was done working 3 days before our trip. Now, who would believe I caught the biggest fish if I had no picture to prove it? I took that camera into a "photo lab" which informed me that it was indeed dead. Being the procrastinator I am, I drove that very instant to the nearest camera store and bought aN60/28-200 zoom on a whim. ;) I was instantly hooked on photography, not just shooting 10 rolls a year with my trusty Olympus zoom. Well, that summer soon turned to fall and out came the bucks in rut. I chased deer all fall with that 28-200 getting mostly landscapes with a deer in there somewhere. So, it was apparent that a longer zoom was needed and a Sigma 170-500 came in the mail just before Christmas.
As spring started, those deer just weren't as easy to find, but what is that bird over there? I had no clue what that yellow bird was but I knew my cousin who is one of those weird birder types would know. All spring and summer I took images of birds in my free time and he would ID them for me. I suddenly realized that I too was a weird birder and, it wasn't that weird at all since I did it too. Late that summer is when I quit doing tree work. Well, I had a lot of free time and my cousin was an intern at a hawk watch so, why not go there to spend time with him and maybe get a few images too. I was hooked! I spent 5 days a week there and befriended my now best friend Bill who had retired the previous year due to a bad heart attack. We started birding together and, it's Bill who made my enjoyment of nature soar to the level it is now!
I found PR through Google while looking for info on a flash for my N60. I got many suggestions, but went with the best flash available at the time (Sb-28) and never regretted it. It was also here on PR that I found the info that made me buy a F100, which was around my neck with a Tokina 400 f5.6 for many years while out birding.
A few years ago, I decided I was tired of blowing $2000+ a year on film and developing. I was looking into maybe getting a D1X, when a Canon 1D/100-400 IS package was offered to me at a price I couldn't pass up. That camera has become my main tool in bird imaging ever since it arrived.
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