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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Wildlife Talk 
Thread started 20 Oct 2017 (Friday) 09:51
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Stalking vs. Waiting ... tips for a wildlife newbie

 
SSNTUFF
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Oct 25, 2017 13:32 |  #16

Kris, like you I started with a 70-300 and moved up to the 400L. I am in Colorado and there are a huge variety of opportunities for wildlife photography here. I started off not knowing where to start and wound up just driving from park to park to see what I could find. I got a few pictures, but they were very hit and miss.
I then started looking more closely at some of the larger parks with more secluded areas and started seeing more and more wildlife. All of these were hiking expeditions. It involved either getting somewhere the day before and camping or getting there before dawn to start the hike. Personally, I like hiking around, mostly because I am not a very patient person and would have a hard time sitting in a blind waiting on subjects to come by.
The one time I tried to stalk, I wound up getting an added bonus. I was driving one day and saw 2 hawks on the ground. Not a common occurrence so I stopped and grabbed my camera. I usually have a 150-600 on it for just this, but this day, I only had a 70-200. A great lens, but I would not be able to stand on the side of the road and take pictures. Luckily, there was a large tree between me and the hawks, I used that as cover to walk up on them. Just as I was getting in to position to take pictures, they both took off. I ran around the tree to try and get some shots and as I was looking for them, a bald eagle swooped in! Bonus! The main point I am trying to make is that you need to be open to all opportunities for wildlife.


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ShadowHillsPhoto
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Oct 25, 2017 13:43 |  #17

kmilo wrote in post #18480859 (external link)
Of course, I'm going to feel like the red headed step child if anyone compares our photo gear :) But, I actually am a red headed step child (before shaving my head), so it won't bother me much.

Ha! Gear is nice but it's not everything, I did just fine with the 400mm 5.6L prime on various crop and FF bodies for quite a few years. They still make great images and you can pick up a used one for a song; although these days if you have the means to beg/borrow/steal your way into the 100-400 II zoom that's definitely the way to go.




  
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kmilo
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Oct 25, 2017 13:49 |  #18

ShadowHillsPhoto wrote in post #18480879 (external link)
400mm 5.6L prime .... you can pick up a used one for a song

Truth ... B&H has one for $680 right now. Having just purchased my 80D, it's going to be a while for me to get one, but I'll get there.


Kris
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kmilo
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Oct 25, 2017 13:52 |  #19

SSNTUFF wrote in post #18480866 (external link)
Kris, like you I started with a 70-300 and moved up to the 400L. I am in Colorado and there are a huge variety of opportunities for wildlife photography here. I started off not knowing where to start and wound up just driving from park to park to see what I could find. I got a few pictures, but they were very hit and miss.
I then started looking more closely at some of the larger parks with more secluded areas and started seeing more and more wildlife. All of these were hiking expeditions. It involved either getting somewhere the day before and camping or getting there before dawn to start the hike. Personally, I like hiking around, mostly because I am not a very patient person and would have a hard time sitting in a blind waiting on subjects to come by.
The one time I tried to stalk, I wound up getting an added bonus. I was driving one day and saw 2 hawks on the ground. Not a common occurrence so I stopped and grabbed my camera. I usually have a 150-600 on it for just this, but this day, I only had a 70-200. A great lens, but I would not be able to stand on the side of the road and take pictures. Luckily, there was a large tree between me and the hawks, I used that as cover to walk up on them. Just as I was getting in to position to take pictures, they both took off. I ran around the tree to try and get some shots and as I was looking for them, a bald eagle swooped in! Bonus! The main point I am trying to make is that you need to be open to all opportunities for wildlife.

Awesome! These are the types of stories that I'm looking for. There's an eagles nest to the south of me, but it's waaaayyyy up in a tree :)

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/271/18378232483_bcebb64fc9_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/u12f​ei  (external link) IMG_5657 (external link) by Kris Milo (external link), on Flickr

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IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/tZRA​TL  (external link) IMG_5653 (external link) by Kris Milo (external link), on Flickr

Kris
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Oct 25, 2017 15:03 |  #20

kmilo wrote in post #18480886 (external link)
Awesome! These are the types of stories that I'm looking for. There's an eagles nest to the south of me, but it's waaaayyyy up in a tree :)

Well, then this type of situation is where both walking about and waiting come into play.

Back in 2009, there was a Great Grey Owl nesting about an hour and a half from me. I found the owl by walking about the woods and looking for wildlife and birds. When I spotted her, she was perched high up in her nest tree, and showed no inclination to come down any time soon. So no way to get a photo that I would be happy with. So, what to do?


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Well, I waited on the ground every day, from dawn to dusk, for three days. My hope was that eventually she would come down and perch closer to ground level, and I felt that all I had to do was to wait her out.

On the third day, late in the afternoon, she did fly down and land atop a snag that was only 12 feet above the ground. I quickly picked up my camera (already mounted to the tripod) and walked over to where she was perched. As soon as I started shooting her, a couple of blackbirds mobbed her. It annoyed her greatly, and she flew back up into her nest tree. So I got to shoot her for several seconds on the nice low perch. All the waiting was well worth it!


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Without walking about, I never would have found the owl in the first place. Without sitting still and waiting for three days, I never would have gotten a good photo. And, after waiting for three days, when she finally came down low, if I had not once again gone mobile and walked around her, seeking to line her up with the best background, I wouldn't have gotten a quality shot.

So often, getting good wildlife images requires both walking about and waiting - they are two techniques that work together. The key is to know when to employ each method to best advantage.

.
.

"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Phoenixkh
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Oct 25, 2017 15:56 |  #21

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18480937 (external link)
Well, then this type of situation is where both walking about and waiting come into play.

Back in 2009, there was a Great Grey Owl nesting about an hour and a half from me. I found the owl by walking about the woods and looking for wildlife and birds. When I spotted her, she was perched high up in her nest tree, and showed no inclination to come down any time soon. So no way to get a photo that I would be happy with. So, what to do?
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by Tom Reichner in
./showthread.php?p=184​80937&i=i71463344
forum: Wildlife Talk


Well, I waited on the ground every day, from dawn to dusk, for three days. My hope was that eventually she would come down and perch closer to ground level, and I felt that all I had to do was to wait her out.

On the third day, late in the afternoon, she did fly down and land atop a snag that was only 12 feet above the ground. I quickly picked up my camera (already mounted to the tripod) and walked over to where she was perched. As soon as I started shooting her, a couple of blackbirds mobbed her. It annoyed her greatly, and she flew back up into her nest tree. So I got to shoot her for several seconds on the nice low perch. All the waiting was well worth it!
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by Tom Reichner in
./showthread.php?p=184​80937&i=i73015373
forum: Wildlife Talk


Without walking about, I never would have found the owl in the first place. Without sitting still and waiting for three days, I never would have gotten a good photo. And, after waiting for three days, when she finally came down low, if I had not once again gone mobile and walked around her, seeking to line her up with the best background, I wouldn't have gotten a quality shot.

So often, getting good wildlife images requires both walking about and waiting - they are two techniques that work together. The key is to know when to employ each method to best advantage.

.
.

Tom, lovely photographs. I really enjoyed the background story. I find the stories, combined with the photographs, hmmmm I'm trying to think of the right word. Maybe "engaging". They catch my interest.

I have identified 4 kinds of owl calls in my backyard, well, the forest behind our house. I've only been able to photograph one of them: a barred owl. The last time I was back there, I was clearing out some brush with a large weed whacker and "found" a yellow jacket nest in the ground. I was around 50 yards or more from our screened in porch, running all the way, and 6 of them still made into the porch.

Lots of stings made me a tad reluctant to go on an owl search back there, but I know I should. Suggestions? Time of day? I know owls come out after sunset, normally. At least, that's when I got the photograph of the barred owl. Any other ideas?


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1DX2 | 1D IV | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS | 100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
RRS tripod and monopod | 580EXII | Cinch 1 & Loop 3 Special Edition | Editing Encouraged

  
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kmilo
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Oct 25, 2017 16:30 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #22

Great stuff, Tom! Thanks


Kris
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Oct 25, 2017 19:45 |  #23

Phoenixkh wrote in post #18481002 (external link)
Suggestions? Time of day? I know owls come out after sunset, normally. At least, that's when I got the photograph of the barred owl. Any other ideas?

The only time I've found really good Owl opportunities are when they are nesting in the spring/early summer. . That's when they're anchored to a spot, and are kind of at your mercy. . Not that you couldn't get good owl images at other times of year, but to do so you would either have to spend lots of time monitoring their whereabouts, or just get kind of lucky with an owl that is tolerant of you getting close.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Phoenixkh
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Oct 25, 2017 22:11 |  #24

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18481126 (external link)
The only time I've found really good Owl opportunities are when they are nesting in the spring/early summer. . That's when they're anchored to a spot, and are kind of at your mercy. . Not that you couldn't get good owl images at other times of year, but to do so you would either have to spend lots of time monitoring their whereabouts, or just get kind of lucky with an owl that is tolerant of you getting close.

.

Thanks, Tom. I'll put that on my list this coming Spring when I usually visit the local rookeries. I might have an owl rookery right in "my" backyard.

Thanks again.


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1DX2 | 1D IV | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS | 100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
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Snydremark
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Oct 25, 2017 23:32 |  #25

I would qualify myself as a 'C', with a healthy bias for 'A' in your original question. I mostly do what I do as a way to simply be outside and active; it just so happens that I live in an area where we cohabitate with the critters on a fairly regular basis.

Most of the time, I will identify areas where a range of wildlife is common and simply choose a time and head out there:

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Sometimes, I will get reports of specific areas where specific critters are known to hang out and will head out, and either follow them around a bit (a) or identify a place they like to frequent and just set up/sit for a while and wait for them to come to me (b).
a.

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b.

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But, a lot of my favorite shots have come from simply being out there and stumbling across something:

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- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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Oct 26, 2017 06:08 |  #26

I'm evolving as a wildlife/bird photographer. I've been a hand-held shooter for the past year or so, and have had some good success with a stalking/waiting approach. Walking around and find a good area, hopefully see some wildlife, and then come back again and wait in that location. If I'm lucky, I'll see some activity right away, and know then what area to target, but a lot of time it's a roll of the dice. 75% of the time I don't get anything.

Listen to Tom, he's right on the money. A few months back he lent me advice about adding a tripod into my process. Recently I added a tripod/gimbal to my lineup :) Since then, I've started to change my methods: Recon an area and find a location that offers an interesting, attractive background with clear shooting lanes, set up the pod, and wait. And wait. And wait. Less stalking, more waiting.

This is the modern world: always on the go, deadlines, instant gratification, limited time to shoot because of family or other obligations, limited window of time to shoot because of quality of light, work, work, work. It goes against the grain to know that you might be wasting precious time sitting in one spot and coming home empty-handed. That's a "risk" you have to accept, but I'm loving the slow down, the methodical approach, the escape from the bustle to a place of peace and single-track focus. It's therapeutic.


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Oct 29, 2017 15:10 |  #27

Hi Kris,

Nice to see a fellow Capital Region photog on POTN.

While I am more of a landscape guy, I have dabbled in wildlife quite a bit. I do a fair amount of hiking locally, by Lake George, and up into parts of the Adirondacks. Maybe I'm not as lucky as other wildlife photographers, but I rarely stumble across any spectacular wildlife opportunities while on the trails.

I know of the locations of a few eagles nests in the area and have spent hours lurking behind trees waiting for them, often they remain in trees further away from the nest. I have gone to all the birding hotspots in the area and it can be hit or miss.

We got to SW FL each winter and I find the shore birds and burrowing owls to much more approachable than our local birds.

I have the best luck with backyard birds and critters that like the bird feeders.

For the hiking, I usually take a 70-300L on the 7D2, not too heavy. But to me, more reach is better, I even like using the Sigma 150-600 for the birds at the feeder from the deck which is only about 15' or so. Whenever possible, I'd like to fill the frame. 600mm on a crop is still not enough for some wildlife. There's a very successful wildlife photog from Washington County that often uses a 600L f/4 with one or two 2x teleconverters (on FF) to get his shots, he is often featured on the local news channels during the weather reports.

I can share with you some local birding areas and resources if you like, just PM me.

Happy Shooting!


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kmilo
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Oct 29, 2017 16:20 |  #28

Thank you, Kent! I just checked out your Flickr page, awesome work!

At this point in the season ... getting chilly and dark so early ... I don't plan to get out too much until the spring. I'm sure I'll get some chances to get out this winter, but not enough time to expect any real results. One of the reasons for starting this conversation is to make sure I'm doing the right thing by making the 400L my next lens purchase. I'm a little nervous that, like you've stated, 400mm still won't be long enough for birds of prey, foxes, and coyotes and I'll end up disappointed. The minimum focus distance on that lens is like 12 feet, where as the similarly priced 300L focuses down to 5 feet. For things like herons, turtles, frogs, and snakes ... the 300L might make more sense. The 400L is pretty specialized. Hearing others talk about experiences and what they were using helps a lot.

Thanks again for your input.

cutwater wrote in post #18484057 (external link)
Hi Kris,

Nice to see a fellow Capital Region photog on POTN.

While I am more of a landscape guy, I have dabbled in wildlife quite a bit. I do a fair amount of hiking locally, by Lake George, and up into parts of the Adirondacks. Maybe I'm not as lucky as other wildlife photographers, but I rarely stumble across any spectacular wildlife opportunities while on the trails.

I know of the locations of a few eagles nests in the area and have spent hours lurking behind trees waiting for them, often they remain in trees further away from the nest. I have gone to all the birding hotspots in the area and it can be hit or miss.

We got to SW FL each winter and I find the shore birds and burrowing owls to much more approachable than our local birds.

I have the best luck with backyard birds and critters that like the bird feeders.

For the hiking, I usually take a 70-300L on the 7D2, not too heavy. But to me, more reach is better, I even like using the Sigma 150-600 for the birds at the feeder from the deck which is only about 15' or so. Whenever possible, I'd like to fill the frame. 600mm on a crop is still not enough for some wildlife. There's a very successful wildlife photog from Washington County that often uses a 600L f/4 with one or two 2x teleconverters (on FF) to get his shots, he is often featured on the local news channels during the weather reports.

I can share with you some local birding areas and resources if you like, just PM me.

Happy Shooting!


Kris
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Oct 29, 2017 16:41 |  #29

kmilo wrote in post #18484104 (external link)
Thank you, Kent! I just checked out your Flickr page, awesome work!

At this point in the season ... getting chilly and dark so early ... I don't plan to get out too much until the spring. I'm sure I'll get some chances to get out this winter, but not enough time to expect any real results. One of the reasons for starting this conversation is to make sure I'm doing the right thing by making the 400L my next lens purchase. I'm a little nervous that, like you've stated, 400mm still won't be long enough for birds of prey, foxes, and coyotes and I'll end up disappointed. The minimum focus distance on that lens is like 12 feet, where as the similarly priced 300L focuses down to 5 feet. For things like herons, turtles, frogs, and snakes ... the 300L might make more sense. The 400L is pretty specialized. Hearing others talk about experiences and what they were using helps a lot.

Thanks again for your input.

Thank you!

300 F/4 might be a good choice, with a 1.4x TC it's a 420 f/5.6, might be the best of both for you.

Lots of raptors around in the winter, and of course eagles, if you can bear the cold, there's stuff to shoot....did I mention the elusive moose by Great Sacandaga? :)

If you would like to meet up and try my 150-600, you are welcome to.


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Oct 29, 2017 17:06 |  #30

I will also, again, champion the 300 F4L IS with a 1.4x TC as an alternative to the 400 F5.6L approach.

I'm not affiliated nor part of the ad, but there's a 300F4L IS in the classifieds right now for less than $600 and it's immaculate. I would go with that and a TC. I recommend it as I have the very lens and have used it with TC and having IS makes it a really versatile lens. I absolutely would go 300 F4L IS with a TC over 400 F5.6 if I did it over again. I use my 300 F4L is for wildlife more than my 600mm. It's just such a great, light weight, fast, sharp, versatile lens.

It focuses fast, it's sharp, close focus range which is really helpful sometimes, and handles a TC very nicely, giving you a 420mm F5.6 IS lens basically.

For an anecdotal evidence example, here's the 300 F4L IS with a Kenko 1.4x TC handling an extremely fast flying Royal Tern flying right at me and how the lens and TC were able to not only keep focus at that crazy velocity, but also still nail it sharp, at very close distance (even harder; farther away is so much easier):

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For wildlife that is not moving super fast, stopping down and chilling with a tripod some where, you'll have crazy sharp images.

Very best,

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Stalking vs. Waiting ... tips for a wildlife newbie
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