Variety: The Spice of.... Wigeons?

american-wigeon-drake-landing-_y9c0397-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 2X teleconverter (hand held at 400mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop to keep from burning the whites: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.

Variety: The Spice of…. Wigeons?

We have a spot in Socorro where we feed the American Wigeons (and a ton of barnyard ducks). With a bit of effort we can–on some mornings–get them to fly where we want them to. Once I acquire focus I hold the shutter button down and see if I get lucky with a pose. Above, I did. I love the dorsal view of the near wing with its green speculum and the bird’s eye just peeking at us.

american-wigeon-drake-flapping-_y9c0355-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was created with the same rig, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 2X teleconverter with the EOS-1D Mark IV. This time hand held at 320mm. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop to keep from burning the white belly and the underwing lining: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.

With flapping birds, it is best to frame loosely so that you can get everything in the frame whether you catch the front flap or the back flap. With some extra space I cropped this one from the right and from the bottom for a more pleasing composition.

american-wigeon-hen-on-ice-sipping-melt-wate-r_w3c3002-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This one was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1250. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 in Tv mode with ISO Safety Shift enabled. Fill flash at -2 stops.

I just love finding new and different situations and sharing them with my IPT group. A few well placed kernels of whole corn got the birds up on the ice. This hen stopped for a sip of ice water.

american-wigeon-in-blue-yellow-reflections-_y9c9687-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 1.4X II teleconverter (this time hand held at 230mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 320. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/300 sec. at f/4 in Tv mode. Fill flash at -1 stop with the flash mounted in the hot shoe.

The image above was all about the blue and gold reflections in the water. The blue from the sky, and the gold from the cottonwoods surrounding the pond. Sometimes the background can be more important than the subject in bird and nature photography. But creating a variety of images of the same subject always adds spice to the mix.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens
Canon EF Teleconverter 2X II
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body
Canon 580 EX II Speedlite

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head
Mongoose Integrated Flash Arm
Promaster Flash Extension Cord

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

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11 comments to Variety: The Spice of…. Wigeons?

  • avatar Keith Reeder

    “Thanks for sharing the eider image”.

    I hope that was alright – I’m not trying to pinch traffic, but simply to underline your point about how important care in choosing backgrounds can be.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Keith, Thanks for sharing the eider image. I have been using boat reflections for years but there are no boats on the tiny pond in Socorro, it’s less than an acre in size. At the very end of this year trip I figured out how to photograph the flapping birds and possibly the flying ducks from a much lower perspective. Stay tuned till next year.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Robert, I have no trouble making sharp images with the 2X II TC and the 400 DO as long as it is on a tripod. Are you using it on a tripod? That said, images with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II will be much sharper than those created with the 400 DO and the 2X. And of course their are AF issues with the latter combo.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Ian, Caspar, Denise, Becky, and Peggy, Thanks for your kind words. I like them too :)

  • avatar Keith Reeder

    Sometimes the background can be more important than the subject in bird and nature photography“.

    Couldn’t agree more, Art – I frequently shoot the Eider ducks in my local river (the R. Blyth in NE England) at a spot where I can rely on the reflection of moored vessels across the river to add colour to the scene, like this: http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/171010/eider_blyth_4.jpg

    Would it have been possible to get a lower POV for these images? They’re beautiful, but I can’t help but feel they’d be better again closer to bird’s-eye level.

  • They’re all spectacular images but those last two really knock me out! Not only are the widgoeons razor sharp but their surroundings are pure magic. It just shows that paying special attention to backgrounds really pays off.

  • I agree with Denise. The third one (hen on ice) is superb!!!

  • Artie I notice you are using the 2X teleconverter more recently. I have problems getting good in-focus shots with the 2X and my 400 DO lens. Does it work well with your 400 DO?

  • I love the hen on the ice! Beautiful soft golden colors.

  • avatar Caspar Davis

    Beautiful. I like the first and third especially.

  • avatar Ian

    The background in the last one is truly amazing, but the same can be said of your 3rd image, which is has the gold water, perfect mirror reflection, sharp focus, and interesting behavior. It’s a knockout and definitely my favorite image of yours in recent (blog post) memory!

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