Category Archives: Wildlife
I’ve never been much for fishing myself (much to the disappointment of my father – Happy Father’s Day!) but I love to photograph them on a warm summer morning.
While I was at the Coralville Reservoir on the 4th, I got a photo of this family making their way to the cool water across a muddy shore. I realize this isn’t much of a picture, actually, but I post it here for a few reasons, as this is primarily intended to be a learning site – a place for me to share what I’ve learned (and for all my readers to help teach me!) as much as great photos.
In this case, I learned that the inexpense Canon EF 75-300mm zoom lens I got for $100 when I originally bought my camera may not be as bad as I’ve been thinking for 2.5 years. In the past I’ve had enormous difficulty with this lens. It didn’t focus well for me, I had terrible issues with chromatic aberration, and camera shake was horrible.
A week before taking this trip I spent a Saturday learning about lens sweet spots and doing some experimenting. And then I learned about minimum shutter speeds to use for a given focal length. Armed with those two crucial pieces of information, I mounted my zoom for the first time in months and pointed it at the wildlife, zooming in almost to the limit. Although I hadn’t tested this lens’ sweet spot directly, I knew that it must be somewhere in the f/10 range, so that’s were I put it. Fortunately it was a sunny day, and using aperture priority I saw that I was getting 1/400, which should be plenty for a clear shot free of camera shake.
The only question left was whether I could count on the lens to focus properly (since my eyes have proven far too old to be reliable). Back home, I discovered that, yes indeed, when I use my lens properly to begin with, it is capable of taking a reasonably crisp image. It’s not L series quality, but as I’m not likely to be getting an L series any time soon, it’s at least nice to know that, with the necessary information in my head, I now have another useful tool in my camera bag.
Here’s something I got a couple of hours ago when, for reasons totally beyond reason, I woke up before sunrise and in a fit of motivation decided to go out and see if I could get something worth capturing when the sun did come up. I hiked out to my favorite wildlife area and tried a few different shots. You may be seeing more of them in the coming days. But this one is my favorite. It was the first time in decades I’d been on a frozen lake. It was a little intimidating, especially as it was 36 degrees this morning.
I like the bokeh, but hate the noise. I’d have been much better off in this shot setting the camera to manual. I would have cranked the aperture down to 200 and the shutter speed to 60 or so. The in-focus parts of the photo might not have been quite as sharp, but I think it would have been less distracting than the color noise at the edges of the green/yellow. There are times when it’s advantageous to let the camera do the majority of the adjusting for you, but it’s no substitute for your own know-how. I had a chance for a really nice shot here, and instead I got one that’s OK. To an extent, this is all right, because part of the intent of this photo walk was to get a better impression of what the camera can do. It does what it does pretty well, but I can do better 🙂
Another shot inspired by the marvelous work by Tuxedo Sophisticated Cat over at Through My Lens. I’m not up to her skill or talent yet, but she gives me something to reach for daily. This shot really needed an aperture of about f/16 for depth of field. Predicting DOF is still one of the things I struggle with most, but in general I find this shot interesting and attractive. It’s shots like this that remind me it’s always worth it to watch the sun rise on a new day.
The day justifies its own existence, and all we need to do is appreciate its beauty.
A white head and white tail against snow is an unlovely combination, but the bird is beautiful. I’d never been quite so close to eagles before. One flew within 30 feet of me before I even had my camera in hand, and of course they never approached so close again.
When I came upon these magnificent creations (somehow it doesn’t seem right to call them creatures) I was caught completely off guard. I had no idea they were living anywhere nearby, so the fact that I was able to get the pictures that I did was gratifying. And now I know where to find them again, so I will hopefully have better images of them in the future.