Some days I have to laugh at all the things that can go wrong when I try to get good wildlife photos. Today is one of them.
I like to post images on this blog after I have overcome the odds to get a good photo or two. This has the potential to leave some mistaken impressions, such as:
– it’s easy for me to get good photos
– I actually know what I’m doing, or
– I just have a good camera (well actually I do but …)
The truth is a little more complicated. Somehow after trying to do everything right, I end up filling my camera with images that were not exactly what I had in mind. Here are some examples from the last few months …
1. After searching extensively, I finally find some beautiful grass with a lovely blurred background. I carefully compose my photo and shoot it. When I look at the photo later, wouldn’t you know it, a bear has photo-bombed my prize grass.
2. We take a special trip in search of Great Grey Owls and, against all odds, find one perched on a wire. I really want a shot in flight so I impatiently wait for it to fly away. It never occurred to me the owl would fly on the wrong side of the wire!
3. A beautiful coyote walks up right beside the truck where I am standing with camera in hand. I have the camera set automatically track the animal so it stays in constant, sharp focus. I thought it did a pretty good job of keeping the snow really sharp under the coyote’s nose!
8. I scan the forest carefully since I’ve seen something moving. Eventually I determine two grizzlies are on the move in among the trees. The adrenaline builds since I’ve seen far too few grizzlies in my life. I move ahead to a partial opening and wait for the bear to appear. The camera avoids all the branches and focuses on the grizzly but I am left with a photo of a highly obstructed view of this amazing creature. I keep seeing snatches of movement and fur but get no more chances to shoot. I am left with a documentary shot.
9. I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve had an expensive camera in my hands attached to a good tripod, with correct settings to capture a bird in flight … and a pelican flies directly in front of me. Actually I do remember now – the number is 1.
I muster all my experience and knowledge to carefully track it since I expect the pelican to fly right in front of me. The camera tells me all systems are operating properly and it has established focus on the bird. When I look at the blurred pelican on the computer, the computer assures me the camera focused precisely on the bird with not one, but two, focus points. I feel comforted.
I think the bear is lifting its head so fire off some shots just as a car drives by. If you look closely, you can see the bear through the windshield, just above the steering wheel. A classic wildlife photo!
12. OK enough with bears. As darkness is really settling in, I spot two moose that are clear of all branches. I frantically adjust my ISO to ridiculous highs and drop my shutter speed so low it will be a miracle to save the shot. Wouldn’t you know it, the moose suddenly gets camera shy …
13. I basically never get to see a pelican, or any other substantial bird, catch its food. But finally the stars align in Grand Teton National Park! My camera settings are good enough to get some detail in the pelican’s feathers, I press the shutter just as it grabs a snack, throws it up and catches it before swallowing. Everything’s perfect except somehow the pelican turned its back on me. I don’t think anybody will notice that little detail …