I know that there is a mix of patience, persistence and dollops of luck involved in getting those awesome nature shots, even before I mention skill. Last weekend we went up to the Central Coast for the Federation of Camera Clubs competition and marvelled at the bird images that our fellow photogs from the Coast were capturing. I was in awe at their skill, their persistence, their right place-right time luck and hoped that one day that might be me.
Yesterday my luck combined with my skill to reward me with images I had long wished for. I have some favourite spots I often visit when we come to the Bellingen area. Yesterday, after a long day of driving and sporadic work stops I was ready to setup camp. But Steve remembered that I had mentioned visiting this wetland earlier in the day, reigniting my enthusiasm and initiating the detour.
Sunset and sunrise are good times to visit wetlands. So is spring. I have my bird settings saved as a camera function but will change settings like aperture, shutter speed and focus mode, depending on the scene at hand. In this instance, I sacrificed some shutter speed for reduced ISO/noise. You may notice that the wings are not tack sharp. I can live with that but will a nature judge look on it as favourably? Only time will tell. Having a long lens for shots like this is almost essential. I have a EF 100–400mm telephoto but would ideally love something longer — a 600mm lens perhaps?
There were certainly dollops of luck involved with this shot. I had found a spot, already recalled my settings and was focussed on the eye of the baby, when mum flew in and started the feeding. I then did what all good wildlife photographers do.
I sprayed and prayed and the Universe delivered.
I do believe this is a colony of pied cormorants. I know that the darter has a straight (stiletto) bill, while the cormorants bill is hooked at the end like a pelican’s. All the darters have flesh coloured legs and feet whereas all the cormorants have black legs and feet. I’m still brushing up on those bird ID skills. A goal for next year.
For now, just enjoy this image. Spring is a time of joy and hope and new beginnings. That feeling is contagious. When I am in such places, I can feel the layers of stress built up from life in the city, peel away. I hope it inspired you to get out and enjoy this time of year, and visit your nearest wetland.
Camera Settings: Canon EOS R6, EF 100–400, 1/600 secs., f/8, ISO 5000
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