Thursday, May 14, 2015

More May Wildlife Encounters

May is a month of transition as the leaves seem to come out more each day and wildlife activity patterns change.  It is still possible to see Eastern Wild Turkey Gobblers strutting and performing the courtship display for hens, but this is not as commonly seen as a few weeks ago.

Mature Gobblers Display For Hens

Mature Gobblers Strut On Distant Hillside
On May 2nd, while waiting for gobblers to appear I had a special encounter with a Pileated Woodpecker.  I have seen these birds frequently throughout the years and have a modest amount of good video of them, but I had never gotten good still photos of them until this encounter.  The bird was very close and I had the 7D MK II with 600mm sitting on the tripod in front of me so I took several vertical photos with it, the best of which is posted here today.

Pileated Woodpecker-7D MK II-600mm F 4.0
 After taking several photos with this rig I switched to the 5D MK III and the new Canon 100-400mm.  The combination of the full frame sensor and 200mm less in focal length combined to make the bird much less frame filling so I cropped the image  to a 4:5 aspect ratio at 300 dpi in Adobe Camera Raw. This gives a 4.6 megapixel  image which is sized to approximately 6x8 inches at 300 dpi or 240 dpi at the more standard 8x10 size.

Pileated Woodpecker- 5D MK III1600-400mm L IS II
I have seen many other species of birds as well, but usually they do not linger long enough to photograph them or the distance is too great, but I did have a good photo session with a  Great Crested Flycatcher on the evening of May 10th.

Great Crested Flycathcer-7D MK II-600mm F 4.0
Great Crested Flycathcer-7D MK II-600mm F 4.0
Perhaps the most memorable experience of the month so far was a Tuesday morning encounter with an immature Bald Eagle.  I was crossing a stream with the old Ford Bronco when the eagle flew from a tree along the edge of the stream and lit in another tree that had branches extending to the center of the stream. It was too far for using the 100-400mm on a still camera with any hopes of success so I decided to try for some video.  This involved slowly opening the door and then setting the tripod up on the stream bed, using the partially opened door as a shield.  I then took quite a bit of video with the Panasonic GH4 with the old 100-400mm attached by means of the speedbooster.  Without going into too much detail the combination of the 2x crop factor of a GH4 sensor combined with additional crop factor from shooting 4K video some of the time or 1080P video with the ETC mode engaged gave very usable video.  After I had quite a bit of video I then switched to an old Canon 500mm f4.5 FD lens which works very well when fitted to the GH4 with a Novoflex FD adapter.  This gives the camera quite a bit more additional reach and I took quite a bit of video with this rig as well as taking a few still photos with it.

Immature Bald Eagle-Panasonic-GH4-Cano 500mm f 4.5 FD Lens-150 Yards

While the video is very good, the stills are usable but they are not in the same league quality wise as stills taken with either a full frame sensor camera or a 1.6 crop sensor such as the 7D, etc., but one must bear in mind the distance involved as the bird was around 150 yards away according to my rangefinder. When one is shooting stills with this camera they do have the advantage of the 2x crop factor of the sensor, but you do not have the extra boost that 4K video gives you or using ETC mode with 1080p so the above image was cropped substantially also and is a 2.4 Megapisel 4.5 x5.7  image at 300 dpi, which works quite well for internet posting when sized to 8x10 at 72 dpi.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.