Early Morning Swamp Adventure in Trinidad « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Early Morning Swamp Adventure in Trinidad

Caroni Swamp Adventure

The alarm was set for 2:50am. By 3:35 we were in the vans headed for the dock. By 4:30am, Lester, our boatman, guided us through the narrow canals spotting snakes and nightjars in the blackness with a powerful spotlight. The plastic bags came out as a brief squall passed. Well before dawn Lester had positioned the boat square to a reddening eastern sky.

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This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens(hand held at 85mm) and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 200. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/15 sec. at f/3.5 in Tv mode. I was set up for blast off blurs but figured I could make a sharp image at 1/5 by using good sharpness technique with such a short focal length.

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

As light levels increased we could see hundreds of Scarlet Ibises on their red mangrove roost island looking like a scattering of rubies on green felt.

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This image was created with the hand held Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/30 sec. at f/2.8 in Manual mode. Again, it was imperative to use my very best sharpness techniques in order to create a sharp image, this time at 1/30 sec. with the 300mm. Four-stop IS helps too!

Right Hand (Surround)Sensor/Surround/AI Servo Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

When they blasted off, most of us were a bit unprepared….

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This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens(hand held at 102mm) and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/2.8 in Tv mode. At the very least I should have been at 1/30 sec. with auto ISO; that would have put me at 1/30 sec. at ISO 800….

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

We spent the next few hours cruising the canals for wildlife. Lester was quite skilled at spotting well-camouflaged Common Potoo and Cook’s Tree Boa.

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This Common Potoo was photographed with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/25 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode. Yes. You read that correct. 1/25 second. You gotta love 4-stop IS.

Right of center sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

When we all spotted a Yellow Oriole entering its nest we backed the boat off, tied up to a tree, and waited patiently. It turned out to be our best photographic opportunity but for the ibises. Between the potoo and the oriole we enjoyed an amazingly sumptuous and delicious breakfast of salted cod fish salad, hard-boiled egg, hot ratatouille and eggplant melange. With coffee and tea. All served on real china with fine silverware thanks to the great staff at Asa Wright Nature Center.

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This Yellow Oriole at the nest was photographed with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Left side (Surround) sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

After three great days in Trinidad we are off for Tobago and Red-tailed Tropicbirds.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in today’s post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2XIII teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lensI finally broke down and purchased my own copy of this great flight photography and general purpose lens.
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EOS-5D Mark III. Man, I am in love with this camera body. Both the files and the AF system are superb.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. I’ll be commenting on this new model soon. In short, I like it.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

11 comments to Early Morning Swamp Adventure in Trinidad

  • avatar Karin

    Great images! LOVE the thought of scarlet ibis… plenty of white ones in FL, but nothing this unique. Will need to put this place on my travel-to list!

  • avatar Vincent Scarnecchia

    Artie, as usual great images . You used 3 different lenses. Do you switch cameras or carry 3 with you ?- Many thanks for sharing your work with us.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Vincent. Two cameras and a bunch of lenses. I have no qualms about changing lenses in the field.

  • Beautiful. Have only seen one scarlet ibis (Sand Diego Zoo) and I remember what a stand-out it was even among flamingos, peacocks, etc. Seeing that many would be off my visual histogram scale.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Richard. I remember seeing some in killer plumage at one of the Disney parks.

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    Love the sunrise image – I am guessing it was pretty amazing seeing all of those Scarlet Ibis in the trees like that!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It was pretty neat. Though I felt that I was unprepared I was a bit more prepared than most everyone else :).

  • Very nice images Arthur…looks like you are having a great time. The Potoo looks like it would be a master of camouflage. Look forward to seeing the images from Tobago.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Andrew. Will post some more asap. Did a nice rain-bathing hummer in Avian recently.

  • avatar Faraaz

    Wonderful photos, these are of course the best I’ve seen of this swamp. Lester is a great guide, I’m sure you all were not disappointed! Have fun with the tropicbirds and your 70-200!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Faraaz, Our stay on Tobago was too short! Sorry that I missed you in Trinidad. When I saw your message on the blog, we were on our way to Tobago. artie