Flying Falcon

A couple of months ago, I wrote on my blog about wildlife photography and the thrill of spending hours on end capturing a shot of a wild animal in its natural habitat. Photographing birds in particular has always fascinated me, not only due to the technical complexity involved, but also because of the requirement to have a thorough understanding of both avian behavior and habitat.

The final stop of my roadtrip last summer was Vancouver – a city that I hold dear at heart, having spent there the majority of my university years. On a bright sunny day, we found ourselves taking the gondola ride up to Grouse mountain, to get some scenic views of this beautiful city. Luckily, during our short stay at the peak, we had the chance to attend a bird show, showcasing the flying and hunting skills of various breeds of eagles, hawks and falcons. As one of the falcons was performing a fly-by over the spectators, I turned my camera toward the sky and managed to get a few shots of this impressive predator.

I view this picture as a lucky first attempt. It was enough though to make me eager one day to invest the money, time and effort in further exploring this type of photography. Perhaps one day when I retire you’ll find me hiding camouflaged in the bushes with a large telephoto lens (assuming I can still carry one around!), patiently waiting to take an award-winning shot of a rare bird in its natural habitat.

Falcon - 1920cShot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 400, F5.0 at 1/2500 sec.

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Animals of Yellowstone

Nature photography has always intrigued me. There is something liberating about being alone with your camera outdoors, capturing birds and animals in their natural habitat. When capturing wild animals however, it is best to keep your distance – both for your safety and theirs. It is therefore not surprising that pro photographers specializing in this type of photography, choose to carry long telephoto lenses that look nothing short of giant bazookas.

Purchasing a 500mm+ lens is fairly low on my Amazon wish list, as a fast F2.8 one usually retails upwards of €3000. Renting one for my road trip was also not a convenient option, so I decided to take along my workhorse lens – the Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS. Paired with the crop sensor on my Canon 60D, I effectively had a 320mm lens in my hands. Not the fastest of all lenses but with luck on my side, my aim was to capture a decent picture of a wild animal while touring Yellowstone Park.

Luck was indeed on my side, as while we were driving around the park on our second day there, a wild Bull Elk decided to cross the road. Swarms of tourists decided to abandon their cars for a chance to take a snapshot of this beautiful animal. The only one crazy enough however to chase it deep into the forest was yours truly! Yep, I completely defied the little voice in me that kept screaming “You Are Crazy” and decided to follow the Elk into the bushes, keeping a safe distance so as not to scare it away. At some point the Elk must have noticed me and looked back to see who was following him. Luckily I was there, finger on the trigger and quickly managed to capture the shot below. An exhilarating experience, one that I definitely will not forget!

Bull Elk - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 800, F7.1 at 1/500 sec.

Toronto Center Island nature

For anyone wondering where this blog’s header image originates from, well here is the entire non-cropped colour picture. This image was taken back in 2008 on Center Island in Toronto. I am fairly fond of this picture, particularly because it was one of the very first (yet decent) pictures I took when I started experimenting with HDR photography. I am usually good at archiving my pictures, but for the life of me I can’t seem to find the original RAW files, so sadly the EXIF data is pretty much gone.

On another note, it seems that I am heading back to Myanmar in a couple of weeks, only this time I am making an effort to do some sightseeing both on the weekend before, and on the weekend after my work week. More specifically, I am planning on visiting Bagan (an ancient city in the Mandalay region of Burma), and Bangkok (on a 2 day layover on my way back home) to take a train tour on the famous bridge of the river Kwai. Admittedly I am pretty excited about the photo opportunities of both these destinations, especially given the fact that my camera has not gotten much use over the last 5-6 weeks. Stay tuned!