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Posts Tagged ‘bird photography’

Recently I created a slideshow presentation of my February trip to the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac using Adobe Spark and shared it on my social media sites. I wanted to share this project with those that follow along here at the blog as well. To view the slideshow simply click on the above picture and scroll down through the project.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement in the next week or so about an exclusive opportunity to join me in Febraury 2018 for a guided tour of these stunning vistas on Cayman Brac. Folks that are interested in this photo tour can send a quick email here to have their email address added to my workshop email list to avoid missing out on this incredible opportunity.

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Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 500
f5.6 @ 1/800 sec

Without a doubt the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is North America’s most beautiful duck. In the late 19th and early 20th century they were hunted to near extinction, but in 1918 after the hunting season was closed they steadily grew in numbers and now there is estimated to be more than a million Wood Ducks in North America. I frequently encounter them in the woodland ponds and quiet lake shores throughout the Parry Sound region however, they are often very quick to take flight and disappear into deeper, inaccessible areas of the wetlands. During a recent trip to Toronto’s High Park to photograph the famous Sakura Cherry trees in full bloom I encountered a large flock of very co-operative and very tame Wood Ducks. I spent roughly three hours photographing the ducks until the lighting began to turn too harsh and created close to 3,000 images. The photos featured in today’s blog post represent a small number and my favorites of the initial edit from the day. The proximity of the pond that the ducks were foraging in provided a nice mixture of sun and shade which allowed for capturing the ducks in various lighting scenarios. My preference is to create images of the Wood Ducks in shade or overcast light for beautiful fine feather details.

Each of the featured images were created with the amazing Nikon D500 and the Nikkor 200-500mm VR lens handheld. Being able to capture images at 1o frames per second with the Nikon D500’s 200 image buffer ensures that I never miss a shot due to exhausting the camera’s buffer, which will happen often with my Nikon D800 due to the large size of the image files. I do however selectively use the 10 fps on the Nikon D500 in very short bursts. I will only hold down the shutter for longer bursts during periods of intense action whereby I am hoping to capture the best possible image for the corresponding action.

Please remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper view.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (615mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake wing flap
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake taking flight
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/2000 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/800 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 200
f5.6 @ 1/320 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake wing flap
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 370mm (555mm equivalent)
ISO 200
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (615mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – hen
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/100 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 640
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/640 sec

High-Key lighting in portraiture has a very classic look and feel in the resulting imagery, with bright white, distraction free backgrounds and minimal shadows on the intended subject. While on my recent trip to Cayman Brac I had a few opportunities to explore using this high key technique on some very co-operative birdlife that I encountered. Each of these high key images were created using the Nikkor 200-500mm lens on a Nikon D500. Each of the birds were photographed in a backlit situation whereby I simply dialed in additional exposure to open up the shadows, allowing the background to fall where it may, ignoring any blinkies (highlight warnings) on the background, but ensuring there were no blinkies on the subject. While making my initial edits to each of the images in Adobe Camera Raw I varied the amount of brightness in the backgrounds, allowing the endangered West Indian Whistling Duck portrait to be the brightest as I felt it complimented the lighter tone of the ducks feathers.

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper version.

 

West Indian Whistling Duck, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/125 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

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Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (650mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/100 sec

 

Aside from Cayman Brac being a premier location for photographing Brown Booby there are also a number of other bird species that are often easily photographed. One of my preferred locations on the island for bird photography is at the Westerly Ponds. As evening approaches many species of herons and ducks arrive at the ponds to seek shelter among the mangrove trees at night. Many heron and shorebird species can often be seen foraging along the sandy sections of shoreline as they search for fish, crabs, and mollusks. The threatened Cayman Brac Parrot is best discovered while slowly driving along the bluff road towards the lighthouse. Each time I have had success photographing these beautiful parrots I have found them among almond trees and most often I was alerted to their presence by noise as they are not the quietest of birds and will often be very vocal.

This post features some of my favorite bird images that I created during my two week trip to Cayman Brac. Please do remember to click on each photo to view the larger, sharper version.

 

Black-necked Stilt, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1250 sec

 

Royal Tern, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 100
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Great Egret, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500 (1.3 sensor crop activated)
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (1000mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/160 sec

 

Cayman Brac Parrot, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/250 sec

 

Willet, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 800
f5.6 @ 1/500 sec

 

Ruddy Turnstone, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

 

Brown Booby with Chick, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 210mm
ISO 400
f11 @ 1/500 sec

 

Cayman Brac Parrot, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 360mm (540mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 260mm (390mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 250mm (375mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/3200 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/800 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 320mm (480mm effective focal length)
ISO 800
f10 @ 1/640 sec

 

Black-necked Stilt, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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seasons-greetings-2017

A special thank-you to all of those who began following along here at the blog this year and to all those who continue to show there support. Wishing you and your families all the very best for a safe and joyous holiday season. Cheers!!!

Merry Christmas!

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Northern Shoveler drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

A couple of weeks ago I made my way down to Humber Bay Park in Toronto, along the Lake Ontario shoreline. I was pleased to see a beautiful Northern SHoveler drake in one of the ponds however, he was not being the most co-operative fellow. Yesterday I return for a follow-up visit to see if he was still hanging around. To my surprise there were numerous Northern Shoveler drakes present at the pond and they were being most co-operative. In roughly two hours I had created hundreds of image files of these ducks that have eluded me for a very long time. To gain the low angle perspective I laid down on one of the boardwalks beside the pond. This low perspective will give the resulting imagery a duck’s eye view and help create the soft out-of-focus background. Here is a selection of images created during yesterday’s visit.

Any folks that are interested in private-in-the-field instruction to hone their waterfowl photography skills can contact me at info@andrewmclachlan.ca to discuss booking a session for four hours of my undivided attention.

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1600 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1600 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake - wing flap Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake – wing flap
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake - wing flap Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake – wing flap
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

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Wimberley Sidekick_4769

As a landscape photographer I do not really have a need for a full gimbal style tripod head, however, on more than one occasion I do recall wishing for such functionality in a tripod head with some of the wildlife encounters I stumble upon while shooting landscape imagery. Enter the Wimberley Sidekick. The Sidekick is designed to convert any ball head into a gimbal-style tripod head in seconds and is available from Wimberley. The Sidekick is light weight at 1.3 lbs and can easily fit into a gear bag or the large pockets of cargo-style pants (as I do with my Sidekick). I find the Sidekick to be particularly useful when I am using my Nikon 200-500mm lens. It would also be highly useful for other folks that are using other super-zooms such as the Sigma 150-600mm lenses or the Tamron 150-600mm lens. Although super-zooms are designed to be relatively light weight they do still weigh in at 5-7 lbs (when handholding this gets heavy and can cause arm strain after awhile, especially if you suffer from tennis elbow), by adding a Sidekick to a ballhead the strain of supporting the gear is completely eliminated and you can effortlessly track and photograph you wildlife subjects.

Wimberley Sidekick attached to ballhead with Nikon 200-500mm lens mounted on a Nikon D800

Wimberley Sidekick attached to ballhead with Nikon 200-500mm lens mounted on a Nikon D800

When fitting a super-zoom set-up to the Wimberley Sidekick you will need to slide the lens’ tripod foot in the Sidekick’s quick release mechanism to find the optimum balance for the gear depending on what focal length you have the lens zoomed too. To effectively balance your rig you may need to purchase a long lens plate such as those available from Wimberley here. I am typically using the lens at it’s 500mm focal length for the wildlife subjects I am photographing, so balancing the set-up is usually required once and then I am good to go. To use this set-up you must flop the ballhead into the vertical position and then insert the Sidekick and lock the ballhead’s quick release mechanism. Position the lens and camera in the Sidekick’s quick release mechanism, balance the set-up and lock down the quick release mechanism. Once proper balance is set you can loosen the ballhead’s panning knob and the Sidekick’s five-lobed soft touch knob. You should now be able to freely and effortlessly move the gear around, in all directions, without fear of the lens flopping up or down because it is perfectly balance within the gimbal style set-up.

The convenience of this small, light weight accessory to convert my ballhead into a gimbal type tripod head is a huge advantage for me in the field. I never leave home or head down a trail without it. I can make the switch from photographing landscapes to wildlife in seconds, which can often translate into getting the shot or missing the shot.

Below are a few images that I have created over the last several months of using the Wimberley Sidekick with my Nikon 200-500mm lens:

Do click on each image to view the sharper, larger versions.

My dog Koko.  She is often my guinea pig for new photo gear when the need arises.

My dog Koko.
She is often my guinea pig for new photo gear when the need arises.

 

Common Loons at Tiny Marsh Elmvale, Ontario, Canada

Common Loons at Tiny Marsh
Elmvale, Ontario, Canada

 

Blue Jay Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, CAnada.

Blue Jay
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

 

Gray Jay Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Gray Jay
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Pine Marten Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Pine Marten
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Female Northern Cardinal in Winter Thornton, Ontario, Canada

Female Northern Cardinal in Winter
Thornton, Ontario, Canada

 

Red Squirrel Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Red Squirrel
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Common Loon Horseshoe Lake, Ontario, Canada

Common Loon
Horseshoe Lake, Ontario, Canada

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