Hi everyone, had a chance to run down to Blackwater wildlife refuge in Cambridge md over the weekend. What a cool spot. Anyways, of course, still not equipped to do spectacular shots just yet, but had the wonderful opportunity to watch this bird eat a skunk,,,STINKY, but rewarding for me...Anyways, a question about the eyes. I have a few shots like this that is showing his eye as if it had cataracts or something, or wondering if he was just blinking. Most of the shots were clear eyes, just a few like the one I am attaching. I'm sending two of those shots over so you can see what it looks like right before the shot and then right after, I think it was in that order....see what you think. Also, this other photo that has the bald eagle in, the one that is in flight, is that a golden eagle or an immature bald eagle. Just wondering. My next trip down I will be armed with a LONG LENS, that's for sure...let me know what you all think. Also, what kind of bird eating the skunk?
#2. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 1
Hey thanks Alan, I really appreciated the quick reply....I have some really cool close up's that will surely be going on my wall, well, maybe in the living room, probably not in the "dining room". Some of my kin folk may not like sitting at the dinner table along with the hawk!!! hehehehehhee
#3. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 2 Tue 27-Nov-12 07:02 PM by pasknucklehead
Hey guys, another quick question, well, you know I never seem to have QUICK questions, but here goes. The senerio for this next image as well as the one right under the hawk photos was taken from across the field. I was driving down the road when I saw about 5 eagles and vulchers eating something. I soooo wanted to get closer because I knew my 300 just wasn't going to do it, but when I got out of the car, there between me and the field was a ditch full of water, and of course, it had to run the whole lenght of the road. So I couldn't do anything but stand there frustrated. But I made the best of it, shut the car off, tried not to get run over as the cars were passing me and left the passenger side door open so I could lean my camera on it. Where I live, we don't ever see eagles, and I was in heaven.... It was soooooo amazing...I didn't care that they were eating something dead, I just cared that they were still there with me out of the car and staring at them. I think they were probably about a football field away, not sure, but I will attach a photo right out of my camera and you can see how much my 300 pulled in. Oh and if any of you want to know where I was, well, I started just to go to conowingo maryland for the day, even though I wasn't lens wise prepared, but just wanted to go for the heck of it...While there, someone mentioned about the eagles in Cambridge Maryland at the Blackwater wildlife Refuge and I thought, what the heck, 2 more hours to my trip wouldn't kill me. I NEVER dreamed I'd see so many eagles. There were tons of them flying around everywhere. It was a sight that's for sure. But anyways, back to me and my question. I will definetly be making the trip next year again, that's for sure, and I want to be prepared this time. I know I need a longer lens, and will rent one, because this isn't actually my everyday style of photography and can't see putting my house up for sell to buy a lens for bird photography. But I do want to get some better shots, and I know I can. I want to have something that I can take the shots with the eagles flying and also have something that I can support on a tripod if I get the chance at these pictures I've just got. So my question, what would suit me? Something not totally so heavy I can't hand hold it, yet something that will get me better coverage. Any suggestions. I will attach the photo below to show you what my 300 got, and you tell me what would get me closer, that is besides, swimming across that ditch full of water and running across that field like a raving maniac. Now, I wouldn't do that....remember my last escursion on here about chasing those birds so I could get a good bird flying picture, this little girl learned her lesson about that....hehehe So guys, tell me what you think. and is renting expensive, and what if I break it.....? And also, is this soft because it is so far away? I mean I had the car off and tried to be very steady and used autofocus.
Scotty Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002
Thu 29-Nov-12 04:49 PM
#4. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 3
Well it's all about field craft. All wild animals have a circle of fear - it is specific to each one. What that means is that each species has a distance at which they will tolerate a potential threat - in this case a person with a camera. - they don't see it as a camera BTW - just something that may try and steal their food or possibly harm them. You stay outside it, they will continue to feed. You step inside - they fly away. The skill in wildlife photography is knowing how close you can get to this circle of fear OR even better knowing how to get inside it without disturbing the species. These skills are learnt through trial and error or by watching others at work.
In this case you could try ducking down into the ditch and slowly and quietly moving along closer to the eagles (it's not a clean occupation!!) Alternatively check out the site regularly - if the birds are regularly there try getting their before first light and waiting in a great position for them to arrive. (It's a job for patience) You could also put up a hide (called a blind over there) and sit and wait. (There is a lot of waiting). There are few tips that only cost time, effort and washing powder...
#5. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 4 Thu 29-Nov-12 06:18 PM by pasknucklehead
Hi Scotty, all great tips. Unfortunately, it is a 5 hour drive and not much time to spend there once I get there. Oh, I would have NO problem wading through that ditch if I thought for one moment I could get closer, but had never been around eagles I didn't know what to do. I had visions of being there next supper, so I just stayed away. hehheheeh. Plus all those vulchers around there, I'm sure I would have made for one tasty meal for all of them...but my real question here is if I ever happen to run across this scenerio again, what are my options as far as a telephoto go? We drove around the refuge I know at least a dozen times and while there were plenty in the sky, not close enough for my 300. Then as we were about to leave the refuge is when I happened to look over in the field and saw all of them over there. I just don't want to take that long drive again with just my 300. I want to go looking for that TROHPY SHOT!!!! Oh and that hawk photo, he wasn't moving at all. I stayed by the car crouched down so I could get a "birds eye view", and stayed close to my opened door in case he got mad at me. I think I could have touched him and he wasn't about to leave his meal. And the funny thing was, the skunk really didn't smell, why was that? As you can see, it was pretty much gone...
#6. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 5 Thu 29-Nov-12 11:26 PM by aolander
You don't have to worry about the birds attacking you; they're pretty harmless. If you were near their nest, that's another story. But even then, they're not going to eat you! They would only eat you after you were hit by a car!
If the skunk died or was killed quickly it may not have sprayed its scent. Or you may have been upwind.
Your options would be a 300mm F/4 AF-S with a 1.4 or 2X teleconverter or one of Nikon's big lenses: 200-400mm zoom, 500mm, 600mm. The latter are pretty big to hand hold without camera motion blur, and they're heavy and cost $$$. You would need to use a tripod with them for best results.
#8. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 7 Fri 30-Nov-12 04:04 AM by aolander
No, the lens I'm talking about is not a zoom; it's a fixed focal length 300mm f/4 AF-S. Nikon teleconverters don't work with your zoom. Other brands may, but you'll have a fairly slow lens, f/8 at 300mm with a 1.4X, and it may not AF very well. (You lose 1 stop with a 1.4X, 2 stops with a 2X teleconverter.) The 300mm f/4 won't be the fastest either at f/5.6 max aperture with a 1.4X, but it's not too bad. You'd have a 420mm f/5.6 "equivalent" lens. They cost about $800-$900 used plus $200 or more for a used 1.4X Nikon teleconverter.
The image below was taken with the 300mm f/4 AF-S by itself (no teleconverter). It's cropped some.
Edit: Actually, it was with the Nikon 1.4X converter, hand held.
#10. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 8
Oh okay, I see. Well, back to think about renting. Like I said, this isn't what I do most of the time so I can't justify the $$$$, but who knows, maybe someday, I'll make the leap...Thanks Alan. that's a really sharp photo.
#11. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 9
Hey Alex, although I totally understand what you are saying about putting in the hours and having the huge lens to get that "trophy" shot, I still have to disagree with you. I did get my "trophy" shot with the red tailed hawk and that was by driving in a car and being "lucky". So I know us small people who can only dream of having the luxury of a large lens, can still get the shot they want just by being there at the right time. Agree? come on,,,I know you don't, but you can't disagree this isn't a great shot...It's going on my wall I know!
Scotty Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002
Fri 30-Nov-12 03:51 PM
#12. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 11
It is indeed a great shot and if you are happy to trust to luck then fine keep on trusting to luck. If however, you want to give yourself a better chance of coming back with a good shot then you will have to change. As I always tell my students serious photography is not about serendipity...
#13. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 12
Had I hit that lottery, I could have bought both of us HUGE lenses, but for now, my luck will have to do...Hey, but seriously, I certainly know where you are coming from. And bird photography, to me has got to be one of the most challenging things to shoot. I admire anyone that goes out in the fields and waits the whole day for that one great shot. I know how hard it was for me to just set up my little tent in the back yard last winter just waiting on the local birds, I nearly froze because I was so stubborn and didn't know when to come indoors. I don't know if I could trust myself to go out looking for the birds of prey that are so beautifully caught in national geo. They would be prying me out of the tent. My hats off to you my friend, and tell your students for me, they have one FINE teacher.
limeyzen Waynesville, US Nikonian since 27th Aug 2011
Sat 01-Dec-12 01:41 PM
#16. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 11
Darlene, wonderful image and deserving of being mounted etc. It would be very helpful to me if you would care to share your process by which you arrived at this e.g. original exposure, etc (I know this can be seen if you gallery the original) degree of crop and any relevant post processing and proposed print size. Perhaps this is not the forum to post this so feel free to e-mail or PM me
This is obviously a "trained"/"captive" eagle, but it does attack a boy. This video does show the blinking phenomenon that you captured. I once had a tame squirrel in my neighborhood. It was very dangerous. It had no idea that jumping on the shoulder of someone that fed it would hurt them. If you held your door open too long, it would be in your house in nothing flat.
Here is one done about the Golden Eagle by National Geographic.
I have no fear of eagles attacking me, and I have been very close to wild Bald Eagles. They did NOT like the sound of my D5100 shutter. I also found out that Black Bears don't either. No problem with my D300 though.
This Bald jerked its head, and gave me a nasty look when it heard my D5100, and then flew seconds after I snapped this:
#18. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 16 Mon 03-Dec-12 06:30 PM by pasknucklehead
Hi limeyzen, well, there wasn't much done to the original photo or the group of birds, and actually not even to the close of the hawk. I simply use pse10, did a crop of 8x10 for the crop, and I believe a crop of 11x14 for the hawk. That's the sizes I wanted to enlarge them to. Then I just lightened or darkened and added a little contrast. I don't do a lot of post processing. I try to get it right in camera and just add a little finishing touch to them. I'm glad you liked them...I will certainly be going there again, that's for sure... Oh and there wasn't too much of a crop also for the hawk eating the skunk. I was beside my opened door crouched down on the road and he was probably only about 10 feet away from me....
#19. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 17
That's a really cool picture Charlie, guess you are one of those lucky guys who have the lens for this type of photography. But you're right, he didn't look too happy. And even though, I really didn't care for either of those youtube videos, I don't feel as confident as I did reading the other posts on here that I have NOTHING to worry about...Sooooo, now after be shell-shocked by the video, I need to gather some courage and go for it again.....But, I will, cause, that's just me....Thanks for sharing,,,,
#20. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 19
I really didn't have the best setup for that shot. That was taken with my 18-200mm @ 200mm. If I had planned the shot I would have opened it up to at least f/8 or probably f/5.6. The next day, I came back with my 70-300 which worked much better. While you couldn't see the sun (near sunset), it was taken in the direction of where the sun was setting.
You have less problem when you exhibit fearlessness, or even just calmness. I have stared down dogs that were coming at me. I have lots of experience. Just don't try it going against two or more dogs.
#21. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 20
Hey Charlie, still a beautiful photo. I'm actually having the one I did blown up to a 16x20. I can't wait to get it back from the lab. I'll attach it here....for you to see. I know it isn't the greatest, but it's all mine.....!!!!!
#22. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 21
You really need to work on your posing technique. You should have the Bald get onto another limb where there are no branches blocking the view. Use the spider technique, you know, come on over here to this limb where your real beauty will be shown to the whole world, where your foxy feathers aren't masked by those ugly ole twigs. Kind of like Howitt's poem.
Then there is Moose Peterson's technique where he makes a place to perch very attractive to the subject (perhaps pieces of salmon?), and knocks off (Do not cut off) all the obscuring branches. Then once again, as others have recommended, patience & practice.
In my Bald photo, I had to move quite a bit to get a clearer shot. It appears if you had moved a slight bit to the right, you might have gotten the limbs to be a better frame for the head.
#23. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 21 Tue 04-Dec-12 08:45 PM by cwils02
Darlene, Here is something you should fear. I know it's only a "Black" Bear, and not nearly as dangerous as a Brown or Grizzly; however, the locals watching these teddy bears had their cars close by and their keys in their hands.
This was the day after the Bald photo at the same place with a little better lens. Tough lighting condition with sharp shadows. Try to pose one of these. The bear was going into a burrow in the brush where they liked to eat their catch. The cubs were right behind. I think this was a Sockeye Salmon, but I am not a fisherman.
#25. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 24 Fri 07-Dec-12 03:05 AM by pasknucklehead
Hey Charlie, you are way tooooo funny. I could just see me climbing that tree to remove some of the branches. Actually, I got this shot sitting in the back seat of my car, hanging out the window. I was too nervous about getting out of the car at all, because I didn't want him to take off, so I climbed over the seat, darn near hung myself on my camera strap and fell into the back seat literally. Then I quietly eased my way part way out the window,,,of course, to add to the embarassment, there were about 4 cars sitting behind me because I parked right in the middle of the road!!!!! So, moving one way or the other really wasn't available to me...heheheh As for this bear picture, I would kill to get a shot like that. I have drove everywhere just to SEE a black bear. I live in eastern pa, and there is supposed to be a lot around here, but none that my eyes have ventured upon. I would have even cut that fish up for her just to get one shot off. hehehehe Oh, post 11,, that's mine,,I didn't realize that until I checked to see what post 11 was...Yeah, that was kinda cool. He didn't mind me being close...and I didn't mind him eating his lunch....
#27. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 24
Another question about the 300 f/4. I looked at the link above of the hawk, yes, indeed, quite sharp. So is that a considerable difference in lenses, versus what I captured with my hawk eating the skunk? Or will I just see a noticable difference at distance wise? Or, also, would it just be a matter of an advantage of adding the teleconverter..that I CAN'T add to my 70-300? curious, that's all...
#28. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 26
I didn't really post those photos for critique, but for the purpose stated. Both of those shots are extreme crops in a merciless environment. The eagle was gone exactly 1 second later. The bear was moving fairly quickly in an area that was variously in bright light, albeit within an hour or two of sunset, and dark shade. Plus, I was shooting at the limit of my focal length. I should have used a higher aperture for that shot. The aperture was a little thin for that part of the shot. I had some room for slightly less shutter speed. Easy to say now that I don't have to keep eyes on all the other bears in the area while shooting this one.
Did I mention that one of the bears actually started for me? The bear didn't like the D5100 shutter sound. I noticed that bear after the locals started for their cars. Thankfully, the bear preferred salmon to me.
BTW, I see that you are from the UAE. Have fond memories of the UAE emissary at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Never really knew his name, but we shared several elevator rides, etc.
Am trying that bear in a smaller size. Also, is your laptop screen calibrated? I just got a new calibrated monitor. Wow! What a difference. Now to get my eyeballs recalibrated next month.
#30. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 27
Rent me a 300 f/4, and I'll be better able to answer that question. I have to tell you that I would be perfectly happy with some of the 1st photos you posted, including the hawk eating the skunk (except as usual, I would have preferred a slightly different crop).
I'm sure that the 300mm f4 is a sharper lens than almost all zooms. You'll need to check whether any particular TC is compatible with any particular lens. TCs will affect exposure by a stop or two, and the DOF. So you have to see what your total needs are before making expensive mistakes like I have done.
Everybody has different opinions. I presented a photo for a live critique before a bunch of high-end photogs (It's of a duck that I think is in my gallery). I presented it to see if they thought I should spot remove a floating feather. The major criticizer went into a tirade like I had done something terrible to him. He said that if not for one thing in the photo, it would be totally worthless. No one in the audience had the guts to say a word. Guess I'll have to give back all that money I've made on that image.
So my advice is to get the best glass that you can afford for the purpose for which you want it. Then study techniques from the best (in person/on-line/or DVD), and practice, practice. Then share on here to learn.
#32. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 31
Hey Charlie, see, I would have liked your duck picture, that's just me....I may indeed just rent that 300 before I even go back to see the eagles. That way I won't lose it here at home hopefully. I'll take a few with it and a few with mine then I'll decide. But it's still being in the right place at the right time and working that camera to the best of your ability...see ya....oh and thanks for the link on black bears. I live about an hour from cooks forest....may be my next adventure!!!!
francine Thornton, US Nikonian since 07th Jun 2007
Wed 09-Jan-13 11:50 PM
#33. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 32
I have the SIgma 150-500 and bought it using bill me later. Every paycheck I put money towards it. It was cheaper 3 years ago and cost me $900.00 There are some used ones on the sell it forum. I had to send it in last week for a check up and went to my friends backyard for birds. She is learning and I had to give her some pointers of which I had learned here.I had to use the 70-300 VR and it did a great job even though I had to crop a whole lot. I have just recently been happy with my shots because I practice alot. I shoot hundreds just to see what angle of the bird is the best. Its hard to get them to look in the direction you want them too. I start out by getting out of the car slowly and I close the door real slow and take a shot. I then take small steps to get closer and sometimes I have to stop because they look like they are going to bolt. Sometimes they just stare at me and I could swear they are thinking "look at that crazy woman". I am bad at flight and am going to try next week at Lock anDam 14. You should go to the wildlife forum. They are a big help. I was in Florida last lmonth and the birds pratically posed for me. I used the 70-300 VR for a long time until I got the 150-500 and when I got the bird in perfect focus I was able to crop to get that perfect picture. I showed you a while back the eagle and that was cropped with that lens.Check out the other forum. The pictures that are posted there make me droll.
km6xz St Petersburg, RU Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 14-Jan-13 01:09 PM
#34. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 33
We all grew up seeing only really good images of animals in publications and books or galleries so did not see the millions of not so great images taken by everyone else that had no means of distribution. It was almost as if animal or bird photos were easy because all we saw were good one. We knew it was hard to take good photos of family and friends, because we saw the results of those all the time. The whole point of some of the well considered advice given in this threat has been "field craft" which has everything to do with good photos and very little to do with taking photos.
It is not just luck that some people get enough keepers that people want for magazine covers or printed large over the fireplace. In just about every field where attention to detail, subject knowledge and creative problem solving separates the norm from really special, the easiest part is the equipment that is getting easier and easier to buy and use than ever, and the hardest is intimate subject knowledge. Most people who excel in anything learn enough about the subject, or discover enough to help their goal. So in this case, find the subject species you are fascinated by and read everything you can get your hands on, both technically and folk writings or oral histories. Spend a lot of time watching, learning habits that are common to all, and those traits which appear to be expressed individually. Learn their feeding, courting, resting, and hunting habits, the range and hours of activity. Soon or not so sooon but eventually, you will be able to guess with better and better accuracy as to where to be before they show up, or when to catch them where they are more relaxed and less wary. Knowing what they are likely to do next is much better than being lucky. That is the hard part and what few people have the patience to master. There is no rule book or set of instructions so being an effective observer further separates your access to the birds from that of the typical chance shooter. If you are close, everything gets better and equipment demands drop. There are some observations that will require adjustment to how someone is probably doing it now. For example the mere act of looking for and at birds or any animals, humans included, is noticed and noted by the observed. If you can refrain from looking at them, and just go about your business you will be ignored. We, and almost all animals with complex eyes, are very sensitive to other eyes. We know or sense when someone is looking at us even it in a crowd or in a busy background. It there are animal eyes looking at us as we sit around the camp fire, we know it very quickly, and looking back is often enough of a confrontation to ward off any hostile actions, or it can provoke and challenge the spy. We are wired as a key survival aid to spot eyes looking at us even if they are a tiny proportion of a complex general scene of background. So, avoid looking at them with uncamouflaged eyes. Camera lenses create a much less dramatic reaction, if noticed at all.
Your 70-300 lenses are fine if the subjects are larger or you can get close but a lot of things work against good images at a great distance. The air itself is a problem, with haze, thermal distortion and particulate matter that work against razor sharp images. You lens can out resolve the air between you and a target 300 meters away, just as an example. The good news is that learning field craft is fun and cheap. The bad news is that it take real patience and study over a long time. A good way to get up the learning curve is to not take your camera so you are not distracted and can remain attentive to the subject. Good luck and have fun! Stan St Petersburg Russia
SheriB SouthernYork Co, US Nikonian since 11th Sep 2010
Mon 14-Jan-13 02:44 PM
#35. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 34
I think a large portion of this post should be moved to the 1) New to Photography Forum 2) Wildlife Forum ..and pinned so that everyone , especially those new to photography in general or especially wildlife ( and maybe even sports too) can read it. Very well written and thought provoking.
#37. "RE: question about birds" In response to Reply # 35
Good post. My late wife used to think I was a bird whisperer. When we were out in the woods by ourselves I showed her how to get a male Scarlet Tanager to go where I wanted. It tried to lead me away where its mate was watching over their nest. BTW, these birds were way out of their habitat. Then I demonstrated a sound to get the male to get closer and closer. It didn't matter how she sounded. I'm pretty sure the male kept getting closer & closer making a fuss to get us to leave.
In the right situation, I can get Mocking Birds to follow me. I can almost always get them to vary their song.
Where your system breaks down for me is when I am in an area for only a day or two and want to capture things like Black Bears & Bald Eagles that I have no ready access to. I have done some research on Black Bears just since being involved in this forum. I found out that at least one of what I thought was a sure enough Black Bear Charge toward me is really a false charge for which they are known. The locals were unaware because they all headed to their cars with keys in their hands. But, in this situation, I got someone to tell when & where to go to see them, but there were quite a few locals as well. It's then that I would love to know that I am shooting with camera & lens that is halfway sharp.
Next, I will try tuning my lenses with my D7000 where I've had the most trouble lately.