Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pine Creek Valley Wildlife Weekend

We enjoyed another peasant weekend in the Pine Creek Valley of North Central Pa.  The wildlife were very active this weekend.  It seemed the ducks were congregating to get ready to migrate.  We saw many mergansers fly by the cabin in large groups.  We also saw a number of mallards and wood ducks.  We spent some time sneaking up and taking pictures of wood ducks as they are some of our favorites.  The still back waters, ponds and other still pools still have a layer of algae and pollen on them.

This one was shot with a Canon 7D with a 600 f4 lens attached.  It was shot at ISO500, f7.1, 1/200. Normally I use a tripod, but in this instance Joan's shoulder had to serve as tripod. The 7D performed well delivering a sharp picture with fine detail in the feathers. More about this later.

We found three whitetail bucks feeding together in the ferns and brush.  There was a spike, a scraggly 8 point and a mature 8 point.  The spike would easily walk into the open and was not at all afraid of us.  The scraggly 8 point would then start to come into the open and the mature 8 point would stay in the brushy area.  The scraggly 8 point would start the foot stomp, ducking head routine and then he would run and all three would go into the woods and then come out again.  This continued for three or four cycles and we finally left so they could eat in peace.

The mature 8 point never did give us an open shot.  This picture is the type that might be used with a story in a hunting magazine. 

Canon Mk IV 1D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 500, f6.3, 1/8

The sharpness of the above picture amazes me when considering it was taken with a 600mm lens with a shutter speed of 1/8.  I got lucky on that one!

Canon Mk IV 1D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 2000, f4, 1/160

I did not do any noise correction on this picture and you can see some digital noise in the background, but once again the sharpness is surprising for such a low shutter speed.   Good long lens technique combined with observing and understanding animal behavior helps deliver pictures such as this. Deer and many other animals have a sequence of motions that they go through and then they momentarily stop.  It is helpful to learn those motions and watch an animal and determine their cycle, then wait and take advantage of that moment when they stop all motion.

Canon Mk IV 1D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 2000, f4, 1/250

This picture has had noise correction applied to the background area.  The above two pictures demonstrate the quality of the Canon 600 f4 lens and its ability to deliver sharp images at wide open aperture.

We were fortunate to see black bears again this weekend.  Joan took the following picture were off a bean bag as we were not in a position to setup tripods without disturbing the bear and its yearling cub.  Notice the reflection of the yellow/green ferns on the bear's fur.

Nikon D300, 80-400 f3.5-5.6 lens at 400mm, ISO 400,  f6.3, 1/100 

If this picture looks like it was taken from the same position as the one above-that is almost correct-I was behind Joan and used her shoulder again as a "tripod". 

Canon Mk IV 1D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/640, EC-.67

The exposure compensation had to be set at -.67 to keep the ferns from "blowing out".    The metering in the Nikon camera did not create that effect so Joan did not have to use EC. 

We saw a number of hawks over the weekend and we got to photograph three-a red tail hawk, a broad wing hawk and a red shouldered hawk.  We were fairly close to the red tail hawk and the broad shouldered hawk and we got good pictures.  The red shouldered hawk was a little further away and I wanted to take advantage of the crop factor of the 7D body so I used the 1.4 TC on the 600 lens with the 7D body and found that i could not take a sharp picture.  I will be doing more experimenting with that as I am able to take sharp pictures with the 1.4 TC and the 600 lens and the Mk Iv 1D body.

Canon Mk IV 1D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 640, f5.6, 1/400
Broad Wing Hawk (?)

Canon 7D, 600 f4 lens, ISO 800, f7.1, 1/2000
Red Tail Hawk

Canon 7D, 600 f4 lens with 1.4 TC, ISO 400, f7.1, 1/400
Red Shouldered Hawk

This was the sharpest I could get with the 1.4 TC on the 600 f4 with the 7D body.  The equivalent focal length in 35MM of the above picture is 1344 mm--so maybe it is a matter of shutter speed and I will have to experiment to determine.

Until next time:

Jim Borden


Willard said...

A good series and observations, Jim. I haven't used either of my extenders that much on the 7D as I am much happier in most cases with just the prime lens attached, but that being said I was photographing gobblers at long range last spring and tried the 2x. I used the live view mode and found that I got some of my best 2x extender photos ever. I think that if one has to use manual focus that using live view and going in to the 10X setting gives one a better chance of getting sharp photos than using the eye-level finder.

Dimple said...

Nice shots, I learned a few things from your comments,thanks!

JayLeigh said...

Incredible pictures! It's so wonderful that you were able to see these creatures and to capture such beautiful pictures of them.

Cheryl said...

Amazing photos. I really like the one of the duck, so beautiful. I am just amazed by your gorgeous photos!

Coy Hill said...

Incredible weekend Jim! Love the wood duck!

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos. I wish I could capture hawks like that!