Friday, June 14, 2013

Fawns, Woodchucks, and an Equipment Upgrade

Fawn Sightings Are More Common: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L IS-ISO 1000 1/320 sec. f3.5
Photography has been very low key lately with a lot of days being overcast and dreary--not exactly the best light for capturing outstanding photos, but occasionally one is lucky as was the case on June 11th when the fawn above followed its' mother to the meadow for the first time and for once the lighting had that special quality.  I have not been traveling, but rather concentrating on the local wildlife, which mostly means whitetail deer, wild turkey, woodchucks, and miscellaneous birds. With that being said I really don't like to be away from this area for long at this time of year as I like to document the young fawns when they put in their first appearances and I don't tire of photographing them all summer, but my main focus will shift to bucks, once the racks are large enough to be impressive.

On one of the rare sunny mornings I did succeed in catching the young woodchucks playing around their den and this time I had the 5D MK III and the 300mm f2.8 and 1.4x extender.There are at least four of the young chucks, but two was the most I could capture  in one photograph.  They are very social animals and the young love to play.

Young Woodchucks Playing: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L+ 1.4x Extender- IS-ISO 400 1/400 sec. f 11
At this point I will explain a bit about why I chose the settings I did in these photos.  In the photo of the fawn, I used ISO 1000 because it was early and the fawns are very frisky and it is easy to get unwanted motion blur when photographing them.  I stopped the lens down a bit to give a bit of a boost to the depth of field in hopes of getting the fawns entire face sharp.  This still gave me a reasonably comfortable 1/320 sec. shutter speed to work with.  The MK III is so good at handling nose at ISO 1000 and the sharpness is so good that there is really no reason not to use it when occasion warrants.  I selected ISO 400 for the photo of the chucks so that I could use a fairly small f stop and still have a decent shutter speed to stop motion.  I selected f 11 because it gave enough depth of field to get the heads and shoulders of both animals in acceptable focus.

In the next two photo it looks like the chuck was snarling, but in actuality it was yawning.  I am always looking to capture those unusual moments and this was one of them.  In this case I used ISO 200 with the lens set at f 5.0.  The 300mm f2.8 has a maximum f4.0 aperture when the 1.4 extender is attached so I stopped down to f5.0 to give a bit more depth of field and help insure that the eyes and nose were both in focus.

Woodchuck Yawning: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L+ 1.4x Extender- IS-ISO 200 1/800 sec. f 5.0
Woodchuck Yawning: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L+ 1.4x Extender- IS-ISO 400 1/400 sec. f 11
On another front my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens developed problems during a winter trip to elk country in early 2012.  Instead of snapping into instant focus as it usually did, the green focus confirmation light flashed continuously and the image was visibly unsharp in the finder.  If one repeatedly jogged the shutter button it would eventually focus.  I intended to get it repaired soon, but what with using a lot of others lenses plus concentrating on video more than still where one must manual focus the Canons, it was very easy to keep putting off having the lens serviced.  Another major factor was that I have heard and read that the II version of this lens is much sharper and more contrasty so there was a strong temptation to upgrade, but there was always something more pressing to pay for. The bottom line was that I never did send it back to Canon for repairs and finally I decided to bite the bullet and get the II lens.

The new lens arrived last Thursday. I have not used it enough yet to get a clear picture of its' potential, but at this point it looks promising.  Yesterday was a rainy morning and the deer were out in force. When a doe brought her twin fawns to the meadow I used this lens and the 5D MK III to take several hand-held photographs of them.  The one below shows the doe and one of the fawns.

Whitetail Doe and Twins: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L IS-ISO 640 1/160 sec. f  4.5
The lens seemed to do quite well, but I had the 300mm f2.8  mounted when both fawns posed with the doe to give me a "family portrait".

Whitetail Doe and Twins: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 300mm f2.8 L IS-ISO 1000 1/250 sec. f  5.0
Hopefully this lens will become an indispensable favorite, but only time will tell.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.