Well, this is my first wildlife shoot since the Ridgefield NWR re-opened due to the government shutdown (which I don’t even want to think about let alone talk about!) I’d much rather talk about photographing birds and other wildlife, which is what I plan to do here. 🙂 I shot from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., mostly using the 500mm plus 2x III converter for a total of 1000 mm. All shots below, except for the very first shot and the last 4 harrier flight shots, were made with 1000 mm set up.
It was a sunny fall day from start to finish–which sometimes worked for me and sometimes against me. There is no question that I can use practice with the 500mm lens and especially with it attached to the 1.4x and 2x converters. That is what I was trying to accomplish today. If you’ve read my articles on bird photography, you know that “practice, practice, practice”, is my motto. Let’s get started.
[Oh, and please click on the thumbnails for larger more detailed views. Thanks!]
An American Goldfinch on teasel in the light of the morning sun. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f4, ISO 1250, 500mm. (8:01 a.m.)
These next two shots were made at marker #11 where the Peregrine Falcon was perched at the top of the nearest tree to my left. Google Earth says the distance is 192 feet. This is where I decided to put on the 2x converter to see what I could get. I think the top one is a little sharper than the bottom one but I was quite pleased with the results from that distance. The bird ended up preening there for the next couple of hours.
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1000, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (8:26 a.m.)
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1000, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (8:27 a.m.)
This is a video of what I was watching through the viewfinder when taking the above shots. You can see how much I had to crop to get them. The video shows the bird preening–not too exciting unless you just like to view magnificent raptors–like I do! The video will look the best at HD resolution (1080p) and at full screen.
A Pied-billed Grebe catches a snack. The fish doesn’t look too happy. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1000, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (9:26 a.m.)
A Pied-billed Grebe takes it easy in the water between markers #9 & 10. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1000, f8, ISO 2000, 1000mm. (9:33 a.m.)
The ever-so-sneaky American Bittern showed its face at the very beginning of the auto tour loop. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (9:59 a.m.)
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (10:02 a.m.)
You can see here that there was some out of focus grass in my way. I was able to use my Nik Viveza Photoshop plugin to counter most of the effects on the bird itself by setting some control points and increasing contrast in those areas. It’s interesting though that the bird dropped the prey just after my shot and walked away. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (10:02 a.m.)
As I explained in my introduction above, I’m out here for some long-lens practice so that means I’ll shoot anything that moves–including a Nutria. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (11:56 a.m.)
Here’s a pretty Great Blue Heron which was out in the field a little ways past marker #14. I like this picture better than I thought I would. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (12:11 p.m.)
On the south Rest Lake portion of the loop, between markers #11 & 12, I spotted this female Bufflehead out in the water all by itself. I felt there was something wrong when I first drove up to the closest point I could get. The bird did not fly away. Not impossible, but rare that she did not fly, not to mention she was the only bird in the lake at the time. I began shooting and when she turned around to face me, I could see a large deep red wound in her neck area with blood dripping down. My apologies for being so graphic. This was heartbreaking. The picture below is the least graphic of them all, but even so, don’t click into the thumbnail if you aren’t in the mood to view this wounded creature. My brother, Gary, was also shooting this duck in his vehicle at the same time I was. He told me later that he spotted some harriers putting the duck out of its misery after I had moved on.
Looking at the photo of the bird facing me (not shown), the wound looks like one made by a projectile. I’m not a fan of hunting and this is one reason why. There seems to be little regard for the suffering inflicted. There is also the issue of using lead ammunition. If in fact the ammo used to wound this duck was lead, the lives of the harriers that caught it could also now be in jeopardy.
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (12:53 p.m.)
Let’s get back to some happier wildlife moments! A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead. And I had thought that shooting flight shots from a vehicle using the 400mm f5.6L lens was difficult! The challenge increases with the 1000 mm set up. Not perfect but this one came out decently. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 1250, 1000mm. (1:24 p.m.)
And, my first pair of Bald Eagles showed themselves today! They were making some circles and dives over Rest Lake but I don’t think they were successful in catching lunch. The pair flew back toward the large oak tree just south of marker #14. So these are likely not the nesting pair that we watch in the nest that is visible to us just south of the access bridge. By the way, the two pictures below show the same bird–not one of each. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (2:04 p.m.)
There are lots of geese, mainly Cackling and Canada varieties, coming into the refuge now. Here are some shots taken from near marker #3. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1250, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (2:25 p.m.)
Today, I’m shooting even things that don’t move–like this flower. It’s probably a weed but it looked like a good target to practice on. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1000, f8, ISO 800, 1000mm. (2:04 p.m.)
Not far from the Kiwa Trail entrance I spot this stately Red-tailed Hawk. A marvelous specimen for sure! Canon 5D Mark III, 1/640, f8, ISO 1600, 1000mm. (4:18 p.m.)
As the sun was heading down for the day, I decided to take off the converter and shoot with a bare 500mm for the rest of the day. This next shot of a Northern Harrier in flight is similar to many I seem to get. 🙂 These birds are so agile in the air, which makes them skillful hunters. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f4, ISO 800, 500mm. (5:33 p.m.)
Here I like the wing position but not the shadow that covers part of the head. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f4, ISO 800, 500mm. (5:33 p.m.)
I was quite pleased with these next two shots giving me some confidence that the 500 can be used successfully for birds in flight. I just need to practice! Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f4, ISO 800, 500mm. (5:34 p.m.)
That will about do it for this episode of The blog. I’ll be working on more shots from an outing on Oct. 23rd so be looking for that. Take care all!