Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Gift from Nature: Wild Creatures

    As I noted in my last entry, I once again visited the George C Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary this last Saturday. From the time of my first visit to that location I have taken nearly 10,000 images there, since October 2008, and have been privileged to observe some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. I have seen most of the spices at the Sanctuary many times, and yet I still enjoy going and hearing the chatter of the various birds, and look forward to seeing them all.

 Nikon 300mm F4 AF-S w/TC14E, ISO 500, 1/200s, @F5.6

    Of course on a given day there is no way to know if you will see a specific kind of bird, since all the birds at the sanctuary are wild and free to come and go as they please. On Saturday I saw some of the birds that I like photographing the most, which was great because it gave me a chance to test out my new TC14E on subjects that I was used to working with. In the photo posted in today's entry, I was very fortunate to capture this Great Blue Heron while it was eating. I was walking around with another photographer, and we spotted the Heron down below one of the dike paths around the sanctuary, and at first thought of just moving on. Thankfully the photographer I was with insisted that we go down and take a look, which turned out to be a real treat.

    At first the Heron was a little startled by our arrival on the scene, but it soon returned to feeding. I captured this image just seconds before the Heron ate the fish. I also have a few images like this one, but the fish is fighting to get loose from the Heron's beak, but my shutter speeds were too slow to freeze the fishes movement. They are still good images though, and I consider myself lucky that this shot is as sharp as it is, considering it was taken at 1/200s! I have taken similar photos of Great Blue Herons before, but the light that afternoon was just perfect, in terms of colour cast, although a little lower than I would have liked. I try to work at ISO values under 500 in situations like this, because the D300 starts to show noise in shadows at ISo400 and up. Another advantage of shooting at lower ISO is that greater detail is captured than at higher sensitivities.

    I also was able to take photos of Baffleheads, which are very common in the sanctuary at this time of year, along with Ring-Neck Ducks and, as seen in my last post, Lesser Snow Geese. All in all, Saturday was a great day to be out shooting, although during the early afternoon there were a lot of people in the sanctuary, which made it next to impossible to get very close to the smaller birds that frequent the area.