Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wildlife Observation, Prediction, and How to Be Ready

I'm hoping this post turns in to just the first in many that offer some insight in to nature and my photography. In the past I've used my flickr stream and the photo descriptions to cover some of the details about how I got a photo or what I saw.

Beginning with this post, I going to move the bulk of my writing here. Part of why I'm doing it is to create a resource for others, and part of it is as a log of my own personal development as a photographer. I'm also hoping to turn some frequent and insightful writing in to some cash via AdSense.

Great Blue Heron on the Lake

Nikon D300, Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 D VR, Gitzo GT2941 tripod.

Recently I went to Centennial Lake in Columbia Maryland to take some photos. I got there an hour or so before sunset. What I initially found were a few ducks and geese, nothing too special or interesting. After about 15 minutes I noticed there was a Great Blue Heron across the lake working the edge of the lake, fishing. He was pretty far away, just a dot practically. I tried to keep an eye on him, and occasionally has to strain to see him as he moved around, he was that far away.

The casual observer might have moved on. There just wasn't much hope for a chance to get anything good. But since I'd been to this lake many times before, I held out hope. I've seen Bald Eagles fishing here, Osprey, Turns, and a variety of other wildlife, so I know there's potential here.

Then I recalled a pattern I'd seen before here. As the sun goes down Herons fishing across the lake wind up in the shade, and the light just drops off. Some times they fly to an area on the other side of the lake (the side I was on) and as they come in the setting sun makes for some great light. I waited almost 30 minutes and shortly after the light would have been perfect, it happened. The heron began to fly my way. I started with a couple photos hand held, and then quickly put the camera on my tripod and took a series of photos as he cruised by and landed a hundred yards to my right. The only way it could have worked out better is if he moved 10 minutes earlier in better light, and if he landed even closer.

So, I turned what could have been a wasted trip to the lake, in to a chance to be patient, predict what could happen due to past visits, and got a photo I like.

A similar photo where previous observations and prediction took place was this bald eagle photo, where I'd learned how a particular spot eagle perch was due to the closeness to an Osprey Nest and the eagle's desire to steal the Osprey's fish...

BALD EAGLE vs osprey (3 pix)

-Jon

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7 comments:

mon@rch said...

How long have you been blogging? This is wonderful and welcome to the blog world !

Marg said...

I can tell I am going to learn some stuff here-awesome heron shot!

Tom O'B said...

Wonderful photo! The light is amazing, wonderful detail. Good to hear the background of the photo! I will favorite the blog and come back often to see what you do next!

The Now said...

I've enjoyed looking at your photos on flickr, and look forward to some good essays on this blog. This is a helpful entry and a great start. Thanks for sharing.

flickrfotografer said...

I think this new blog is a wonderful idea!

What a fabulous capture! The Heron looks gorgeous in the light of the setting sun!

I tried to figure out how AdSense works for you, but the help section didn't reveal too much. I went ahead and clicked on everything and signed up for newsletters and such. I hope it helps. ;-)

Carole

Doug Hays said...

That photo is simply stunning. In trying to take pictures of the bugling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park last night, it reminded me of how difficult it is to get a meaningful shot.

http://wildobs.com/doug_hays/2008/9/21/Elk-Bugling

(WildObs is a site I use to track my sightings... elk photos to come soon)

Keep up the good work!

Donna said...

This is fantastic! Love reading and this is all a great read!The pictures are just EXTRAORDINARY!!THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH,I am HONORED TO VIEW this all.Maybe you can teach this old girl some new tricks!