Yesterday I decided the best way to get over any winter weather blues was to go outside and take photographs. I’ve been reading a lot about Nikon cameras, and various focusing modes and I thought I had finally got my head around the 3-D mode, so with the Sigma 150-600 lens I bought for myself in September, it was time for a test. To prepare for this moment, I’ve been doing weight training, and I am now able to lift the lens.
What I was hoping for was a shot of either a duck or goose coming in for a landing. They glide in, lower their landing gear, and sort of water ski to a halt. Preferably, I was going to get a shot of this head-on. Well, the day before, all the males were being super alpha, making threatening dives against other intruding males, and then chasing after the missus, who would take the opportunity to get a little peace and quiet.
None of that was happening yesterday. Maybe the season was over. In any case, I definitely didn’t need continuous release mode, and practically any focusing mode would have done as well, but I did find the focusing point did automatically follow the subject I had selected, as the birds glided sedately through the water with all the urgency of a sleeping cat.
Moving to another spot, another photographer pointed out a hooded merganser, which was a bit of a step up from the mallards, and I exercised the big Sigma to pull in some decent images from the middle of the pond. Walking around the pond, I finally saw some splashing and short flights, but shooting into the sun wasn’t working too well, the water droplets became too distracting. However, up in the sky, there was a new visitor.
I thought this was the Caspian tern I had seen in previous years, but back home on the computer screen it became obvious the visitors were ring billed gull – what I would have called a “sea gull” for most of my life. To get photographs of this bird as it was flying around, the 3-D focusing was no use, as it was difficult if not impossible to set the initial focus point for the camera to follow, so I went to group area focusing, although in retrospect, one of the dynamic area modes might have been better.
For most of the shots, I was using a Manfrotto monopod. For the gull BIF shots, I was hand-holding, with the monopod dangling under the camera, which probably looked a bit strange. I find the monopod a bit too short – I have to stoop over to see in the viewfinder. For a while, my vantage point was next to a tree, so I was able to lean back on the tree which lowered my head to camera height without the stoop, and gave the camera a very stable platform. All those leg exercises helped out on this pose!
Almost all of these shots were taken at ISO 400, 1/1000 sec.