More wildlife from Soria. During my visit to Cañón Río Lobos I had the chance to spot some griffon vultures overflying us. Even though they were flying low, the distance was considerable and required use of telephoto. In this case, I had my old 70-300mm, but a 400 would have come fancier.
Wildlife photography is really challenging. Besides the general high-speed movement of the vultures, harsh light conditions and the dusty, hazy air resulted in a bit of softness and some extreme blue fringing at the tips of the feathers. If I ever decide to go further down the road of nature/wildlife photography, I would probably need to get a sharper telephoto lens, but in the meantime I will stay on budget and keep the old one.
In my recent visit to Soria (Spain) I got the chance to wander around the Cañón de Río Lobos Natural Park. Very different from the deeply green natural parks I visited recently in Germany or England, and even further from the tropical climates in Tayrona, this part of Spain has a harsh almost desert climate, vegetation limited to small bushes and a few trees that can endure the lack of water and the temperature fluctuations.
Rio Lobos is a well known place for spotting birds of prey: vultures, hawks, sparrowhawks, and owls. Although my visit was a very short one, I was lucky enough to catch a few shots of this little owl (Athene noctua).
Similar to another wildlife shots, this is taken with a 300mm telephoto, wide open at f/5.6. Very narrow depth of field and tricky light conditions. Fringing was very strong in the whole series of shots, even near the center of the lens, but could get rid of most of it in post processing.
One more wildlife shot taken at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. I was constantly amazed by the abundance of birds and other animals mingling in the urban areas without any fear of people!
I don’t really know what kind of bird this is, so if you can tip me off on that, I will be very grateful :-D
One more picture from Colombia! This one is from the gardens in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, in Santa Marta. All over the place one could find trees ranging between 200 and 400 years old. On the top of on of this trees, lazily sunbathing, there was a huge iguana.
The photo is a “standard sniper shot”. Telephoto extended to the longest 300mm range, wide open so that the shutter speed woud be as high as possible. To keep it steady needed to crank up the ISO a little bit, but not too much noise came out of that.
Have a good day!
Upon arrival to Bogotá, after a resting sleep and a healthy breakfast we headed towards the Monserrate mountain, one of the highest points in the city, in the hope to get some nice panoramic views. The weather was not particularly well suited for landscape viewing, as it was very cloudy and rainy at times, but the walk around the mountain was still nice. In one of the gardens I spotted this little fellow battering his wings like crazy. The thing was moving so damn fast that it was impossible to take a sharp shot until he decided to take a break. This is a kind of hummingbird commonly known as shining sunbeam, or “colibrí de alas largas”, very common in the higher parts of Colombia.
Remarks, opinions, compliments and hate letters are welcome in the comments!
Going on with the Alpine collection, here is the portrait of a baby black dragon we met on our way up to Mount Jenner :-D
Unlike angry ducks these little friends are very shy and will stay very still when approached, making them kind of easy to photograph, even easier than cows. Main difficulty when photographing these newts is subject isolation, as they are very small (about 10cm long, including the tail) and very close to the ground, getting a sharp focus on the subject with a nice background blur is kind of tricky. Possibly the easiest solution is to get as close as possible and get mostly everything on focus, resorting to post-processing for background blur.
Walking on the countryside, a bunch of the cutest little cows was nearby. They were very friendly and came to say hi as I approached, and even lingered around posing for a few shots. Cows are way nicer than ducks :-D
This is a low-angle portrait, shot with a wide angle (26mm), wide aperture (f/4) and very fast shutter (1/3000s). Even so, it came a wee bit overexposed in the top-left clouds and a bit underexposed in the ears. Rule of thumb for this kind of pictures says that one should try to get focus on the closest eye, but somehow the nose looked more interesting in this case.
Not much to say about this one. Cows are fun!
Another picture from Lee Valley Park, same theme as yesterday. Crossing a little bridge over the canal I spotted these two swam with their little cygnets, lazily sliding over the calm waters. I was able to snap a few pictures before they went away. The swam family was quite less agressive than the geese one though; I got no hissing this time :-D
Today’s shot is a wildlife action shot. During a one day trip to Lee Valley Park, near London, we came across the cutest bunch of little goslings. I tried to approach them to take a cute shot when suddenly their mum decided I was getting too close and went in the way hissing at me like an angry cougar, it was pretty scary :-D
Unlike the squirrel, the mad goose was anything but posing, so in order to get a shot that wasn’t too blurry it was in order to go for the quickest possible shutter. Thanks to the bright sunlight I was able to shot at 1/500s, although maybe 1/1000 would have been better. Depth of field was narrow enough at f/5.6, so it was impossible to get a tack sharp focus (also the damn thing wouldn’t stay still for long enough). Overall I think it came alright.
Photographing wildlife often requires using similar techniques as taking portraits: in order to achieve subject isolation one resorts to wide apertures and background compression by using some zoom lens. However, there are also some trickier parts: not being able to get very close to the subject often forces using very long telephoto lenses, which often (unless you can afford buying a quick telephoto) has to be traded by a smaller aperture and hence an increase of the shutter time. For wildlife photography, shutter time is particularly critical, as your models are not very likely to stay still posing for you, and even minor camera shakes will get amplified by the use of telephoto lenses. In many aspects the treats required to take good wildlife photography resemble the ones required to be a good sniper.
This time I got an easy enough setting. This little red buddy came running through my legs and climbed a tree right in front of me, where it stood frozen for a few priceless seconds that I could use to bring the camera to my eye, compose, and shoot. Picture was taken at f/5.6, 105mm, 1/250s. Greyish background is due to a cloudy sky.