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!