Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camera Critters: Osprey Encounter

I spent most of the past week in Pennsylvania's elk range. The main object of the trip was to photograph bulls shedding the velvet. Previous' elk photography expeditions had been quite successful , but the weather turned stifling hot and humid with a lot of overcast skies and rain for this trip. and It seemed at times that the elk had literally vanished from the face of the earth.

Noted elk photographer Ronald "Buckwheat Saffer" stopped by soon after I arrived and said that prospects were not good as he had not had many photographic opportunities in the past week. Also most of the mature bulls had already shed the velvet, so the chances of documenting this activity were not great.

I also got to meet fellow blogger, Bradley Myers of Bradley Myers Photography, and his son Shane. We shared some adventures together, which I hope to write about in the future. Stop by Brad's blog as I'm sure that he will share some of his photos and experiences from the trip with you.

On of the more productive encounters didn't involve elk at all. Wednesday morning was very humid and overcast so I returned to the house before 9:00a.m. to catch up on some photo editing, but suddenly I recalled reports of Osprey sightings at a small backwoods lake about ten miles from Benezette and decided to check the situation out before settling down to the computer work. When I arrived, I found one of the birds sitting in a grove of dead trees.

Prime Osprey Habitat

After videotaping him from long range, I exchanged the camcorder for the 500mm F4 and DSLR. As the range was quite long I used the 1.4X and the 2X extenders (not stacked together), to see which gave the best results. In addition all of the photos are severely cropped.

2X Extender

I spent almost an hour, trying to capture the bird in interesting poses. I would have liked to have photographed it flying, but that was not to be.

2X Extender

2X Extender

1.4x Extender

I have not had a great deal of success with the 2X extender with the 500mmF4 in the past, but I realized that most of the negative experiences had been with the Canon 10-D and under less than ideal conditions, so that some of the problems may have been caused by subject motion, or lighting quality that was not conducive to resolving fine detail. In this case the subject was easy to focus on and the light was relatively bright enabling the use of higher shutter speeds. All in all I was pleased enough with the results that I hope to use the 2x more in the future.

For more Camera Critters photos: Click Here!


Kerri Farley said...

Wow Willard...I think these are some of your best yet! I'm thinking that Osprey was doing a bit of YOGA :)
Absolutely fabulous shots!

Unknown said...

I agree, if that's not osprey yoga, then I don't know what is. The second shot made me laugh out loud.

Hootin' Anni said...

That one where he's just about to land on the branch is outstanding!!

My C C is's Tahoe this time, getting into trouble....again! Come by for a visit, won't you? You need to scroll down below my Saturday's photo hunt to view. Happy day wishes sent your way.

Snap said...


Dina said...

What a funny shot, like a person doing a handstand! So glad you went out again and found the osprey.

Martha said...

Job well done! Those photos are spectacular!

My CCmare

Adrienne Zwart said...

Wonderful shots, Willard. I have to say that all this talk about lenses and extenders makes me want more camera stuff though. :)

i beati said...

can;t get any more unique than #3 sandy

b13 said...

I love that second shot. What a stance!

sweetbay said...

Beautiful shots! The second shot is hilarious and the eyes look just like that of my little female cat -- big and yellow and just that expression.

EG CameraGirl said...

I posted an osprey this week too...but your photos are way better!

My Camera Critter is at
East Gwillimbury Wow

imac said...

Wonderful shots Willard, great capture all of them.

Brad Myers said...

Great captures Willard, I think this is the area we explored last year that I was mentioning, it looks like it. I almost went there the morning it was raining so hard but did not want to get my gear wet.

It was great meeting you. Even though we did not see many Elk we both had a great time just getting away and seeing some Elk, turkeys and whitetails. Thursday morning was all the excitement I needed and I am just glad it ended well.

You will see me during the rut, I have checked my calendar and will be making reservations on Monday. I will email you with the dates I will be up.

Thanks for showing us some spots and I am looking forward to the next trip.

Cezar and Léia said...

wow I can not believe that, magnificent pictures!
Happy camera critters
purrs and love

Tom said...

Well captured... I'd love to see one of these up close, even better to see one in the act of catching a fish. Great captures and a great posting.

If you get time nip over and meet Ammon Wrigley then read his poem The Homestead

R Sweetapple said...


Anonymous said...

Excellent series, Willard. The handstand image just rocks. Nice snag and excellent background as well. Terrific job.

Since I can seem to link back to my new home, I will post it here; The link-back is to my now inactive blog.

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos. So crisp and clear! I took one of an Osprey flying at the river the other day, but it's not as close as your photos!!
Any sign of Fred during your trip to Benezette? Of course, I had to ask!
Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. Also, I've never been to this area. I'll have to find out exactly where it is. It looks beautiful.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on this series Willard. Some of the first bird images I have seen on your blog and they are cool.

This beauty seems to be miles away... well shot and beautifully composed.

Peggy said...

Well, you know I have been a fan of yours for a few months now, but now I'm a HUGE fan! Iloved that Osprey shot with the handstand! Incredible capture! Seriously amazing!

F.Y.I I use the 2x almost permanently on my 300mm f2.8 prime. I only take it off under cloudy skies. I LOVE it!

Louise said...

These are spectacular. Flight would have been great, but I love the one with its wings in the air and feet on the branch.