Today Izzy and I went back over to the nature reserve, to see if we could see some birds of prey. Even if we couldn’t see any, just hanging out at a place called “Raptor Lookout” is pretty cool!
Its been raining pretty much all day today, but in a short window this afternoon we headed off, and I took my 60” fishing brolly just in case we got caught in a down pour, which was highly likely.
We arrived, got the camera and brolly set up and we waited. It wasn’t long before we saw what we though was a bird of prey in the distance, however, they were too far away even for my 300mm lens. I did take a couple of shots of them though, and when I reveiwed the photographs they turned out to be crows.
I’ve nothing agaisnt crows, but it just wasn’t the type of birds I was after today.
I trained my eye and dialled in the settings using passing seaguls, pigeons and airplanes. It was ticky though, my long lens is really unforgiving, so I dare not take it too low in f stops, and today I used it between f/8 and f/11. In the past I’ve found it to perform at its best around f/11 for me.
That was OK in itself, however with it being so overcast light was a real problem, and at f/11 I was having to hold really slow shutter speeds.
I had no choice but to turn the ISO up, something I avoid like the plague with my long lens! The shot above of the swans, is at ISO1600……
Eventually, a raptor did whizz past, and I think it was a Kestrel, though I’m not 100%. I got several shots, but even with my high ISO I could only get the shutter down to 1/160th of a second. I know that sounds fast, but it wasn’t fast enough to freeze the fast moving bird in flight.
Time was ticking on by now, and so we wandered back to the car, stopping off again at the lake to see if there was anything to see. There happened to be a couple of Cormorants flying up and down the lake, so I got my camera out again.
I kept with the 70-300mm lens, determined to get something in flight with it that wasn’t a big hunk of manmade metal. Again, the same issues prevailed due to the lens/light combination, however the slower moving and more predictable cormorants (they were flying in a big loop around the lake) made it much easier to capture them.
Learnings – At the time, I didnt think I learnt a lot today, and the main feeling was of disappointment at not capturing a really nice, clean shot of a bird in flight again. I know I’ve taken some seagul photographs (see this post for the seaguls) I’m really pleased with, taken with my 18-55mm lens, but I want that shot of a bird of prey, in maximum detail, in a really interesting mid flight pose! So not much then…….. and I am determined to get it even if it means a raft of failures along the way.
So anyway, while I was processing the images, it became apparent that the ISO I set was too high for the lens (maytbe the camera too, I normally start to worry if I go to ISO400, and today I went up to ISO1600) so for this shot to work I’m going to have to concede that I need to tackle it on a really bright sunny day, the exact opposit of today!
That will give me a lot more scope with shutter speed at lower ISO settings, and along with that, I’ll brave some lower apeture settings, rather than higher ISO.
For the record, despite the wet weather and the challenging photograph; Izzy and I had a really nice time, and in her little pink wellies she jumped from puddle to puddle, amidst shreiks of delight! She loves spotting all the animal foot prints now too, and little signs of wildlife, not to mention the wildlife itself.
She notices animla tracks, and little holes that have been dug, and she nearly always tells me that “a fox has made that hole daddy”. She wonders at the smaller creatures too, slugs and snails are some of her favourites!
While we were at Raptor Lookout, she tucked under the umbrella, and peered out to watch for birds. She can spot them a mile off too, and she pointed loads out I hadn’t even noticed. She is so good at being quiet when we’re looking for aminals too, and the whole time we were trying to spot the birds, she was whispering to me about what she could see.
I am so pleased shes interested in the natural world, I honestly beleive its one of the healthiest interests a little human being can have.
I’m so looking forward to the day we capture an image of a magnificent bird of prey together!
Catch you tomorow.