Midway Continued: Creative Vision/Red-tailed Tropicbird Style

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Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (handheld at 135mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 250. I set the brilliant white exposure for this ISO manually: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 and confirmed it via a histogram check.

There are many, many thousands of Red-Tailed Tropicbirds on Midway and they are relatively easy to photograph in March.  Their courtships displays (as above) are spectacular.  And many pairs are beginning to nest (see the images below).  As always, you can click on each image to see a larger sharper version.

As you view the three images in this post you will be struck by how different each is.  I used a different focal length and a different technique for each of the three photographs and as you can see, each is unique and each image fulfilled my photographic vision.

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This image was created with the handheld 70-200mm f/4 IS lens with a 25mm Extension tube, the 1.4X II TC, and the EOS -1D MIV. ISO 250. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/10.

As you might imagine, these birds are quite relaxed on the nest.  When doing close-up work, an extension tube can help you to focus closer by reducing the minumum focusing distance of your lens.  When using an extension tube with a teleconverter, the usual course of action is to place the TC on the lens with the tube behind it.  I tried that but could not focus as closely as I wanted to to achieve my photographic vision.  So while lying on the ground I switched the order around mounting the tube on the lens with the TC behind it.  This allowed me to focus even closer.  The problem is that with the tube on the lens and the TC behind it you lose autofocus so I needed to focus manually and use my elbows as a sort of bi-pod to keep the lens absolutely still.  I simply listened for the focus confirmation beep  and depressed the shutter button when I heard it.  Voila: creative vision achieved!

This is one of the many hundreds of techniques covered in “The Art of Bird Photography II” (916 pages on CD only): https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32.   Be sure to check out our combo offer:  purcahse the original ABP along with the CD book and save $10. 

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Canon 17-40mm zoom lens handheld at 40mm with the EOS-1D MIV. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/4 set manually and confirmed via histogram check.

Above, I wanted to create a bird-scape that gave the viewer a sense of the nesting habitat of this species so I chose the wide angle zoom lens that I borrowed from Canon Professional Services for this trip to achieve my creative vision.  While this image is not done in typical BIRDS AS ART style, I feel that it is quite effective.  Do note that the subject has been placed in the traditional rule of thirds position.

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2 comments to Midway Continued: Creative Vision/Red-tailed Tropicbird Style

  • Wonderful pictures.
    I especially like the 3rd one. I had no idea there were such large trees on those islands and the Tropicbirds would nest so close to them.
    The life of birds is always amazing!

    • All of the large trees are introduced. The tropicbirds nest under them near the trunks and the White Terns nest on the limbs. Even the Laysans nest on the edges and right in the middle of the woods. There is a plan to remove most of the large trees from the islands.