Great Grey Owl
When we first discussed the idea of blog, I really didn't know how to start. Becky and I have been photographing wildlife and nature for over 20 years, so of course we have some images and some thoughts! But how best to begin? I'm an equipment junkie but I'm also very passionate about the image. In fact. that's WHY I'm an equipment junkie. We need to understand what our equipment can and can't do in order to consistently capture compelling images of wildlife - otherwise we're just getting lucky! Wildlife photography is an intoxicating blend of equipment and vision. I hope to elaborate on this in the coming posts.
I think this image is a timely start as it's taken with Nikon's new 80-400VR AFS lens. My friends, Martin and Brent, had located this Great Grey female's nest, which is in the dead tree she's landing on. We watched and photographed her for a short while from a safe, non-disruptive distance. We were using big lenses (not the 80-400!) and trying to capture some nice shots of her on the tree, I had however, hoped for a flight shot of her in her forest home. The female would occasionally leave the nest for a "break", fly away 20 or 30 yards to preen, and then fly back in. She did this a couple of times but always came from the wrong angle - I'm sure you've all experienced that! Also, she only came from 20 yards away or so in the forest and from down low, popping right up by the nest so there was absolutely no time for the autofocus lens to track - even one that's as fast as the new 80-400. Finally, Brent let me know when she was coming in and I focused on the stump so the lens wouldn't have to go far to lock AF. I chose the 80-400 lens instead of my bigger telephoto so the forest would surround her. I'd hoped for a wing spread like this and got lucky with two shots (Thank you, 4 frames per second Nikon D800E - I would have killed for an 11 frames per second Nikon D4 ) The eye contact was icing on the cake and I think it makes the shot.
During these blogs, I really want to relate my gear to why I choose it for what I shoot. It's a work in progress and this image is a prime example. No, the 80-400 is not often a long enough lens for frame filling bird photography, but it can give you a wonderful perspective of your subject in its environment. My 600f4 would have been too long and not given the feel of a forest dweller to this image. The 80-400 was almost perfect for this - except for that little f5.6 thing as I really would have liked f4 for a bit more background blur and a faster shutter speed! Finally, a small note about that wishing for the fps of a D4: yes, the D4 is fast and will give you more frames to choose from - but have you SEEN the detail from the D800E?!? More on that -- and many other topics -- as we go along with this blog.
One last thing: Your comments are welcome here because talking about photography is second only to doing photography in the whole photo enjoyment scale. So feel free to chime in at any time!
Great shot Glen it was a great day except for our journey through the bush to get to the second nest. All in a days work.
Hi Bas. I haven't seen any dust in mine yet, but I really haven't had it out in a lot of dusty situations. It certainly wouldn't surprise me though. Any lens that's not completely internal focusing and zooming will eventually suck some dust inside. It would have been nice if they made it internal zooming! While we're on the topic of improvements - how about a useful tripod collar and less focus breathing! Still a good lens though.
Hi Glen. Have you experienced any of the dust issues with the new 80-400 that have been reported on various forums? Even Moose refers to it as a "dust pump".
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