We’ve been super fortunate to have this pack of wild turkeys hanging out at our place. They come right into the yard, struttin’ their stuff. They’ve been around for quite a few years but this year they have been really quite prevalent. It made for some sweet photo ops early this morning. I took some shots through window glass and then stalked them out into the back prairie. I was able to get within 10-15′ of the birds which was pretty sweet. 😎
People may complain about the high megapixels of today’s generation of DSLR cameras and I’d agree that yes, sometimes they are are über overkill. But then, some whitetail deer might show up 363 yards and all you might have with you is a 70-200mm lens. And then, you’re happy to have the D800 mega-pretzel madness! The photo above is a 100% crop of this photo: #LOL 😎
It’s a bummer. I was too late grabbing the camera because this deer and another buck were sparring. I watched with binoculars for a bit then ran for the camera. When I got back, the other deer had already run off. To the victor goes the spoils! Cheers to next years Whitetail babies! 😀
We got the phone call this morning from our neighbour Eagle-Eye Jimmy that there was a momma & baby Moose on our crescent sauntering around. Nature guide Olivia spotted them from the breakfast table. So I grabbed my camera and went out trying to get the photo of the year with mom & baby in town. However, they had already vacated the premises. But I did find a baby bunny in point blank range and . . . a giant black bear!!!! 😉
Ma & Pa Kettle are down from Moose Jaw and with the wild turkeys in full strut, it was high time to try and get some photos. Dad had his 500mm f/4 and I brought a . . . 16-35 f/4 wide angle. What other lens would do for wildlife?!? hehhehhe… 😉 Anyways, we drove down the road and spotted some turkeys right beside the road. Dad was switching up lenses and some other guy in a truck drove by and spooked them. Great. They were now on the move. So I ran on ahead of them trying to cut them off and steer them back to where Dad was waiting. Well the turkeys must have been chased by coyotes this year because they are far more flighty then they were last year. I was able to walk up with 15-20 feet but this year not so. Long story short on the turkey stalk was me nearly having a heart attack running up and down ginormous hills trying to cut ’em off at the pass. To which the responded by flying away. I have a whole new appreciation for Border Collies. 😎
I love wildlife photography, but as of late I haven’t done as much as I would like. Mainly I’ve been busy but I also am more interested in doing lighting stuff. But why not add lighting to wildlife? Well, it’s not easy, which is why people don’t do it much. Animals are unpredictable as to where they are going to be at any given time. At least with birds you can feed them. We have a tremendous amount of birds of different species that fly through our yard. But, they all love black sunflower seed! So I put some out and waited. And, I used 3 speedlights to make sure that when they flew in, I’d get some light on them. I used TTL, which I don’t normally do, and it worked pretty good. Letting the camera drive every now and again isn’t so bad! 😉
The tree swallows are back again this year and have been fighting like crazy over who gets to live on Moir Dr. We had baby birds in this house last year and they want to do the same thing again. But it’s wild because all the birds want to live in there and several pairs fly in to try to steal it away from the dominant couple. They attack each other and high flying hi jinx results! It’s one wild acrobatic show! I shot these suckers at ISO 1000 and shutter speeds of 1/800 and it still wasn’t enough to stop them. It’s crazy how fast these little guys are. Jet fighter pilots could learn from them! 😉
For the last week or so, there’s been a Red Tailed Hawk screeching at me in the back pasture. He’s been hanging out in the ravine and cruising on the air currents and thermals that rise up out of the valley. It’s been a nice addition to have some extra wildlife actually hanging around. I have noticed at times two of them, so I thought they might be nesting. Tonight, well after golden light had settled in, I grabbed my camera and my trusty 70-300, the dog and we hit the trail running. I wanted to nab shots of this hawk while the golden light was low on the horizon and would illuminate him while he surfed the currents. It worked out! He got lit up like a
Dutch brothel! non-ethnically specified house of ill repute! 😉 Just kiddin’! It was just lots of glorious evening light that highlighted him perfectly and was still high enough to creep into the east side of the ravine.
As I sprinted across the pasture, I was pleased to see he was still hanging around. He even let me get close. And as I crested the top of the hill, I found out why he’d been there: dead deer carcass. It was just ribs and spine, presumably a coyote kill, hopefully not a cougar (but possible). I’m fairly certain this hawk had been hanging around to take part in the bonanza. Soon though, the clouds bunched up and stole my light away. No more hawk pics. But, my attention turned from raptors to landscapes – well, cloudscapes. I ran down the big ravine to get back up the other side, stopping only to take the oak leaf shot at the bottom of coulee. It was raining far off and the light was coming in very rich and warm. It was burning through the clouds so brightly I could barely believe it! Shapes and even faces emerged in the clouds, even a wee rainbow if you look close. It was all very cool! As I stopped to snap the cloud shots, I barely even noticed the horde of wood ticks that had since covered my pants and started crawling up under my shirt. Anything for a picture right? 😉 Finally, I watched as the sun sunk into the horizon and burned the sky before saying nighty night!
I got up today and looked out and behold, there were tons of turkeys, struttin’ their stuff. I grabbed my camera, some camo and went belly crawling for a half mile or so. Last year, they were more tolerant of me and let me get a wee bit closer than they did this year. But it was warmer then than it is now. uggg, this weather is getting depressing. While I was out, it started to snow which was throwing off the autofocus of my 70-300. I missed some shots because of that and for that reason I’m selling a kidney on the black market to get a 300mm f/2.8 hehehehe.. 😉 Anyways, it’s true, in low light, that lens hunts for focus like Rita McNeil looking for prime rib in a buffet line. 🙂 But what can you do? I did do some manual focusing to try and nab the shots I was missing. Here’s the shots of the day. It’s funny how from 330 shots, I get 32 good ones. Roughly 10%
EDIT! Here’s a video of me gobbling! I’m the turkey whisperer.
Last night the deer were making a steady stream through our backyard from the field and into the ravine next to our house. I grabbed my 70-300 and made a few shots.
I woke up this morning and looked out my bedroom window and behold! There was a Whitetailed Deer snuggled into a snow bank across the ravine from our house. And not only that, she was framed inside a natural vignette! It was pretty cool looking, so I ran for my camera. After taking the window opener apart, I was able to get my camera in place to compose the shot the way I wanted to.
There were a couple of challenges to over come though. The first was as it was early morning, the light was garbage. I couldn’t setup a tripod because my bed is in the way. So I braced the camera on the window frame itself to try to make a rest. I tried a pillow too but there was too much shake. My 70-300 has the VR technology which helped but with an aperture of only f/5.6 it wasn’t what I would call optimal. So I had to crank my ISO to try to get a sharp image. As a result, the image quality degraded more than I would have liked.
I waited a little while for more light and I was able to drop the ISO to 800 and still get a reasonable shot, but it was still too noisy for my liking. I dropped the files into Aperture and fired up my Dfine 2.0 plugin from Nik. Pure awesomeness results! It magically cleans up the noise without eliminating all the detail from the shot. See the 100% Crop.
As you can see, it is magic for cleaning up noise. Next, I had to fix the color. The early morning light was still too blue. I screwed up by not having my white balance on shade to warm it up to where it needed to be. Thanks be to RAW! I was able to change the white balance in Aperture and warmed it up substantially.
I also did some some tweaking with Color eFex 3.0 to adjust the contrast and enhance the natural vignette by brightening the spot where the deer was lying. A couple other touchups and I had the final image I was happy with!
Another reminder that pictures are happening all around us! 🙂