Friday, September 17, 2010

Red-naped Sapsucker


These images of the Red-naped Sapsucker are also from my trip to British Columbia earlier this summer.


It may be hard to believe based on these images but the light levels were actually very challenging to work with. This is because there were 3 factors working against me:
  1. These guys move fast, very fast! I needed at least a shutter speed of 1/2500 to 1/3200 to effectively freeze their motion.
  2. The depth of field is narrower than one thinks. With an 800mm lens and being close enough that the bird fills the frame, I needed to stop down to at least f/8-f/10 to get sufficient depth of field. This is compounded by the fact that they don't approach the nest hole on a perfectly perpendicular plane to the camera, so stopping down is essential.
  3. The best light to photograph these guys is in the early morning and it was a partially cloudy that morning on and off
All these factors put together meant that I was frequently shooting at ISO 3200 and even higher!


I am pleased with the way the images came out, especially given the high ISO. Unfortunately that use of high ISO also means that 24" prints likely won't be that great.


One thing I did realize on this trip is that I'm not that jazzed with taking more images of birds on pretty perches. I prefer images of birds (and wildlife in general) in the middle of action. It is challenging to pull off.


Here's an example of an image where even the 10 frames / second capture speed of the 1D Mark IV is insufficient to provide an ideal frame in the burst (I would have preferred one with the Sapsucker mid-frame). This was a digital composite of 2 consecutive frames. Bring on the 20 FPS cameras Canon!
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