you have good eyes

On Safari (…in Dallas!)

My most recent excursion to shoot exotic wildlife took me just over a mile away from home.  Such an elaborate trip took many weeks of planning for the necessary equipment… No wait, I didn’t have to do any of that. =)

a Great Egret at White Rock Lake spillway

Look at the translucent quality of the feathers!

I noticed that a large amount of birds were taking advantage of the fishing opportunities at the newly renovated spillway at White Rock Lake.  Once the weather cooled off last week, this became an excellent opportunity to do some shooting.  Armed with my 70-200mm, I was excited about shooting and a little worried about the not having enough zoom, believe it or not.  One thing I learned on the Yellowstone trip was that 200mm is great for large animals such as deer or bison, but birds require a little extra reach (or for you to get very close without scaring them off!)  Not sure exactly why, but it is that way.  Maybe it is because they are truly other worldly creatures, really almost like reptiles.  There is so much resemblance for just observing them for awhile.  I have noticed too, that the most compelling shots of birds have very simplified backgrounds or large amounts of depth of field…but that could be said for just about any subject.

So, back to the problem of having enough zoom.  Well, after  shooting Monday morning, I decided that this would be a great opportunity to try out a different teleconverter.  I swung by Competitive Cameras on my lunch break and picked up a 2x teleconverter.  And for a one day rental, it only cost me about $10.  What a steal!!  So for my impromptu photo shoot at the spillway, I was able to double my focal length from 200mm to 400mm!  This was huge.  This made all the difference in the world for shooting birds at a distance.  And now, I really would not want to shoot birds any other way.  Which now begs the question, is it worth buying a teleconverter for $500 or just renting it for $10 per day?  I guess it’s a matter of convenience.  But truthfully, I could think of about 1o different ways I could spend $500…so renting it is!

My favorite part about the shot to the right is how you can really feel the “structure” of the wings.  Look how clearly you can see the birds arm inside it’s wing. It really looks like a sail.  I was impressed how effortlessly they could coast around the spillway with very little wind.  It was also interesting how they curl up their neck when flying any long distances.  I guess it is all about their balance.  And they would become “front heavy” or even just tire out the muscles in their neck if they alway were stretch out.  It is pretty wild how they can distort their neck in so many directions.

1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 640, 340mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

There were a few different species of birds that were capitalizing on their new found habitat.  It seemed the fish were plentiful, as they lined up along the spillway to snatch a fish here and there.  If anyone know the species of birds, please let me know in a comment.  It would be very appreciated.  I don’t want to keep calling them cranes if they are another type of bird.  Thanks in advance.

Here are some more photos from the shoot.  All and all, it was a lot of fun, and the weather last week was just amazing for Dallas.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out more daily updates on my flickr photostream jayaxe04.

1/1250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 400mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

1/3200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 800, 390mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

1/1600 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, 185mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8)

1/500 sec, f/9, ISO 800, 330mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

1/3200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 800, 400mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

1/3200 sec, f/6.3, ISO 800, 380mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8, 2.0x teleconverter)

Click here to see all of the photos from the birds at White Rock Spillway shoot.

12 responses

  1. Amazing Photography…

    October 4, 2010 at 1:01 am

  2. Lani

    Amazing Photos! I really like how translucent the feathers were. And I also like the rear end shot of the bird. I know it is kind of silly! But I do! I would totally rent them for $10 dollars a day as well. Unless you start to shoot a lot more using the tele-lences.

    October 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

    • Yeah… I like that one too. I think the water spray and reflection made me appreciate it too. Hey, It would be great to get this link to your Dad. I don’t mind renting stuff either because you always get to try the newest equipment…

      October 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  3. Ryan

    Lovin’ it man. You’re getting some great shots. I’m going to have to come down for a weekend workshop from the Master himself. Glad you’re having fun down there.

    October 4, 2010 at 8:49 am

    • Thanks!! Yes, it would be great to get you down in Dallas…now that the weather is bearable.

      October 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

  4. Wes

    Wooo nice!!!

    October 4, 2010 at 9:57 am

  5. Liane

    Jay,
    These are fantastic. I am very impressed.
    I look forward to seeing your future work.

    October 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

    • Thanks Sis- I have got a few other posts in mind, and I’ll always keep an eye out for the next photo opportunity. Jay

      October 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

  6. Mom/Barb

    Incredible! All are great photos with the third and the last ones qualifying as the Favs.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

    • Good eye! I agree, those 2 have a lot of clarity. Thanks.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  7. Dorothee

    Great photos! You’re doing an amazing job!

    October 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

  8. Pingback: Jay Axe’s Photo Blog just hit 1,001 views! « Jay Axe's Photo Blog

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