With 2 feet of snow on the ground, I started going through some images from this summer. I found myself unemployed but it gave me some time to try my luck with birding out on a kayak with my 50D. This is the first summer I seriously tried to shoot birds and I quickly found myself hooked. I rented a variety of lenses: 100-400 IS, 300 4.0L IS w/ my 1.4X and 400 5.6L. I really liked the flexibility of the 100-400 but overall I prefer the 400 5.6 for image quality and focus speed, since there was no IS and I didn't use the TC. I rarely found myself using less than 400mm, anyway. This summer I'm definitely going to rent the lightweight 400 DO, which seems perfect for this kind of shooting. If the 600 DO comes to fruition, I'll be the first in line to rent it.
Shooting from a kayak is the way to go, IMO. It is difficult to compose a shot given currents and and wakes from passing boats and waverunners, but it's so much more fun than shooting from the side of a road where you usually need 500-700mm to get close enough. I love visiting Forsythe NWR near A.C. and Cape May Point State Park but you're usually fighting a losing battle with only 400 unless you have much more patience and experience than I do.
C&C welcome and encouraged.
1. Osprey Nest- the man-made stands are all over the marshlands in and along the water's edge. I usually made a 10 minute pass at a single nest no more than once a week so as not to disturb the birds too much. There are are almost a dozen in kayaking distance, so you don't even have to shoot the same nest twice. The first three were all 100-400. The missed shot in #4 was, ironically, with the faster-focusing 400 5.6L and a ND filter.
4. This one REALLY hurt. It's my #1 all time for birding Greatest Misses.
5. Tricolored Heron in Breeding Plumage- There is very little saturation in this image. The beak is really that blue in mating season. Wish I was able to get the sunny side to illuminate the red eye.
6. This Snowy Egret has the breeding pink around his beak, although he was the only one I saw all summer who had the pink.
7. Snowy Egret foraging at low tide. The sun went behind a cloud, otherwise I would have not gotten the feather detail that I did. I'm still having problems with Snowys in sunlight.
8. Little Blue Heron, which was heavily cropped.