So I was getting pretty serious about the V3 being a tool that solves problems for my photography. To prove it even more so to myself, thought I would take it on a stress test. While in Homer, we were able to venture out for a few hours to a favorite location of mine, Gull Island. On a gorgeous rainy day, we went for a cruise and all I took was the V3, 10-30 and 30-110 loaded with a Lexar 68GB MicroSDM (which I’ve not lost yet, a record for me). The V3 can shoot up to 60fps which is why I have the big card. I have it set to just 10fps though.
First, the V3 did just fine in the rain, not even an issue. Having the small, light camera and lens (smaller than your palm) on the open seas was really a treat as it was very simple to hold and shoot. And as you can see, the image quality is truly sweet. The V3 has a “viewfinder” that permits you to see through the lens so shooting is basically like shooting with a DSLR. All the settings are basically the same as on my other DSLR but the zooming from 30 to 110 takes only a second as the throw is so short. At this point in the Black-legged Kittiwake colony, eggs have hatched and some kids have already flown the coop. I prefer to look for patterns in the nest platforms and the rock and for small snipits of family life. The V3 worked very well in capturing those aspects just like the DSLR would have. No, the V3 is not the perfect wildlife rig! I wanted to see if it could take the stress of the environment and produce the same great quality. I’m very impressed!
Watch a gull for five minutes and it will do something stupid. This old adage in wildlife photography can lead to some amazing photos. But few pay much attention to gulls. Why? Because they are so common. But when you start looking at the common and telling its story in an uncommon way, well, it just might lead to something amazing!
Wildlife photography requires the obvious gear, no getting around that. Then moving the ball forward requires understanding basic biology. Then to insert the romance requires thinking about the light and adding it to the rest of the mix. Shooting down in Florida this time of year, the afternoon thunderstorms are a thing of beauty! With a simple iPhone app like Radar Cast, you can watch the storms form and see the direction in which they are heading. With that, you put yourself in the right place at the right time and you come up with the shot. In this case, with simply the Df and 24-70AFS in hand, we headed to the pier where the storm would pass and where their are fisherman. And where there are fisherman there are gulls. The rest is simply putting the pieces together in the frame, the gulls, the clouds and the light.
I love photographing gulls, learned long ago that if you just watch them for five minutes, they will do something silly. Well, we were at the Yaquina Head Light for our K&M Adventure last week and the gulls were just starting to go nuts with nesting season. What makes this location so amazing beside the gorgeous lighthouse is the offshore islands the birds like to nest on which are just an arm’s reach away! We’re talking gulls, murres, puffins, gillimots, cormorants and even Bald Eagles. Simply an amazing gathering of life in spring.
Shooting here is fun too. You drive literally right up to the spot, not even a 100 yard walk. It doesn’t take much in gear, I shot with just the D4s / 80-400VR3 but you can easily go longer. It would be a great spot for a 600mm / 800mm but you just have to deal with the public who seem to always come up when you have your eye to the viewfinder and ask, “Whatja shooting?” It would seem only photographers can see the thousands of white birds on the black rocks.
I went short for the very simple reason, looking to make the uncommon out of the common. You have a couple of important things going for you in these regards. First, you can get so physically close. Next, you can get access really early to take advantage of the cool lighting. Lastly, you have a white subject and black background. All of this permits us to have small, very small subjects that visually pop in the frame. And with it being spring, there are all sorts of antics. In this frame above, I like the shadow of the gull in the foreground that was about to fly through the frame.
And then there are simply their gestures. What is really cool is these opportunities are available to all across the globe. Gulls, which receive very little respect or love, are key members of our wild heritage. Studies have shown that if they were to disappear we would have a serious loss of our air quality. Pretty darn amazing to think the “garbage eaters” of the wild kingdom are linked to the air we breath. But then, Mother Nature has tons of surprises and it’s up to us to share them through our photography and their stores.
Kachemak Bay, AK
captured by Z7 / Z24-70f2.8
I’m rarely disappointed by a sunset in Alaska. And, I’ve never missed one. That’s because the sun takes so bloody long to set, you could drive for an hour to the perfect spot and still capture it! So while watching the Sea Otters float by, the gulls and kittiwakes settle in for the night, I sat on the balcony and listened to the crashing waves as the earth slowly spun forcing the sun to once more go below the horizon. Even if for only five hours before popping back up again. I even did time-lapse of the setting and rising sun. Shooting with the Z7 / Z14-30, I gaffer taped my tabletop tripod to the railing to do it. Too lazy to go down to the truck and get my tripod. Too beautiful a scene to leave!
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / watertaxi
I have spent a lot of time on Alaska’s coastal waters. They are always new, different and gorgeous each and every trip! Went out to a favorite locale this morning, Gull Island to spend some time with all the nesting birds. The predominant species is the Black-legged Kittiwake. I’ve shot there a lot over the decades so spent most of my time with the Z7 / Z24-70f2.8 shooting. But then we rounded the point and I saw this so had to pull out the D5 / 180-400VR. Now the fact I have to point out this detail tells you that in general, it’s weak. If it were strong, you would see it without my pointing it out but such is not the case. But under the adult in the top left corner is a chick staring back out. And if you look right next to it, an egg. It’s a detail that makes me smile.