Fall 2010 Migration - Telephoto Geese Shots

There is pretty much nothing hard about storm photography. Telephoto bird photography is a totally different beast, something I don't have much practice in. I kinda imagine 800mm doesn't help! It can simply be hard to find a bird with 800mm. You see it, look into camera and hell if you can find it. Over and over a few times. Then try and track the thing even when it is a small part of the frame. You start to fill a frame with a bird at 800mm and well it's just on a pretty high level of difficulty to do it and do it well. It can be soooo frustrating, especially so what I saw as cool and was trying to do here.

When the geese would fly around and around above, I noticed you could really get shots that seemed as if you were there along with them. There are some crazy cool ops with this, given big telephoto and close birds. Cause really, 800mm over 400mm doesn't do as much as it might seem. Still gotta be fairly close to groups.

As with the mention before in the other account, you really must watch the linked video to get how fast these were moving in an 800mm frame. Getting something like above wasn't crazy hard, but that isn't exactly what I was going after either. It's cool and all but the coolest was even more into them and most importantly.....focused on the closest bird or birds. This part is however silly difficult at 800mm on zig zagging, criss-crossing, ever changing mass of geese. I know damn good and well I'm not conveying this. Watch the video towards the end, when you can tell it is with that 800mm on there and how fast they are crossing. What you have to do is just try and pick out a couple and track them, keeping your focus point right on them, then snap it when the composition is full of them or interesting. It's hard to explain just how freaking fast the composition was changing and just how easy at the same time it is to not keep your focus point on whatever is closest. You think you have it, but bam others come through the frame even closer. Try taking this knowledge and using it on the crazy cluttered shot a couple images down. I know I had others but not sure why more aren't on here. It was probably just that hard to get any interesting ones to work out right.

It was ones more like this I was trying to get but focus on the closest bird. It works ok enough focused in the middle. It is damn hard to get that one because you seriously have no time to see how it is in the frame before snapping and it wasn't always so full. Cause remember, this view is just a real small part of the sky. It's not like those are right above me, they are up there a bit at 800mm.

Focused on a lead bird! A miracle lol. The depth of field is tiny if you are making the birds large in the frame at 800mm. I keep looking at these and thinking it's not hard myself and I was there lol. It's real easy to not get how fast the birds are changing in your frame and how hard it is to track them overhead at 800mm. And it makes it so much harder, the fact other crap is always zooming in and out at various other levels.

Ah much easy subjects to shoot! Evan and Chris a long ways away. 1/2 mile? Chris can't even tell I had the big ass lens pointed at him I don't think. That far away in my car.

This guy wasn't very close either. I should have went down to the end of that dock and shot that scene the other way. Been too close with the 800 though. The trees on the left are annoying...as is the lower left grass.

Another day and again annoying myself trying those telephoto overhead close grouping shots.

Don't shoot telephoto or birds much, let alone with an Canon 800mm F5.6 L on there, I can see how it would be easy to think tracking and shooting the above would be easy enough. And it is, only after some practice and the simple fact you have a billion birds to try and over and over and over till you get it. lol

Also on some of these just look how streamlined they are in flight...regarding their feet. They really tuck them into the feathers. Many you can see no sign of their feet in flight.

My kind of tracking. Like shooting storms now!

1 of the thousand closer shots I didn't just delete. Not sure why I took as many of these up close as I did. Oh yeah I know why, cause I was standing there and sick of trying those tracking group shots of the stuff flying around yet. Seems their sleep is 30 seconds eyes closed, 30 seconds eyes open...repeat.


Hard. LOL I started putting the focus point on the side, as that seemed to help try and get that crazy close group composition shot. It only helped because you had a chance to monitor the composition that way. If you are focused dead center, one bird fills most of that and you have less time to see what happens elsewhere. I mean the crap changes so fast as you pan around, you need every split second you can muster to know when to snap. Doing it this way you can try and track one goose in a corner and see at least somewhat better the rest of the frame happenings. Not much else was happening as I was actually keeping on this one. It's seriously not an easy thing to do, just tracking one damn goose at 800mm. Then you have to do it steadily and keep the focus point right on him. It happens to stray off slightly and you lose it. And heck half the problem is stance. You are almost panning around a 180 degree line. You get to following one well and soon you are leaning too far and need to step again. You step and you aren't able to track. Nothing on this page is one bit cropped in fwiw.

I only wonder if something like this or the others would be easier if you were half as much focal reach but twice as close. Or if they'd be equally as hard. Doesn't seem they'd be the same. It all gives one a lot of respect for what the amazing nature photographers pull off, especially birds. I don't see much of the rest being as much of a challenge, aside from being there at the right time aspect obviously. And far and away the one shot I was going for of the in close on a group overhead, focus on closest one, at an interesting composition time....was several levels more challenging than like this one above for instance. Least tracking one or two "frame fillers" by themselves at 800mm won't make you so annoyed you just stop trying. That other deal repeatedly got under my skin lol.

Decently hard again. Anytime you fill a frame with a flying bird it probably wasn't simple. These were all constantly in a turn was the problem. You could try and find one to track in but by the time you have him in and steady he's beginning to turn away from you again.

Right now I was trying that interesting composition in close thing again, but now trying with the left focus point...but just no other closer birds to help this one out. That is what you'd do though, hold it on that one that is in focus here, track and keep holding it on him till you saw others starting to zip into the frame....if you saw them zip into the frame. They either weren't or you weren't sure enough of the shot quick enough to decide to take it. It's really so easy to not get how fast things are zipping in and out on these views. I know I keep saying that lol. Watch the end of the video. When the guy asks, "Is that your lens" that view up is being video taped with the 50mm on the camera. Think of 800mm of that. That's about what many of these closer in grouping shots were shot of. Then the very last clip on there, in close, is video with the 800 on. That helps a bit in seeing how hard some compositions can be...imo the best, most amazing ones can come from that though. One just has to focus on the closest bird in the frame at that point(LOL) and have it be an interesting composition. Closest are always moving through the frame the fastest, sooooo lol.

The picture higher up, 2 images above the one of Chris and Evan, is as close as I came to what I was trying to do with that. And I just had a revelation on all that. It actually might have been best to not focus on the closest ones in that. The one right below it shows why. You blur out further birds worse then anyway. Might be best to have done it like that one was. Hmmm.

Great low sun angle lighting.

Smelly precipitation.

Time to save up for that 800mm, lol not. Must be rough for those that own one though.

He looks as if he's still new to landing.

It's funny I live 6 miles from a refuge and am having to drive 2 hours each morning of this to get to this one. By the way I had the lens 6 days and you spend this much on a lens rental, well you will drive there 6 days in a row. Anyway, it's funny, Desoto Bend NWR right by me closes off their refuge for migration...hell winter, stating they'll have a better chance at getting the birds to return without people. Meanwhile at Squaw Creek, directly south of Desoto, you have open(and free, gasp) access on a road that runs RIGHT next to the water. The above is taken outside of my car...*maybe* two car lengths away from me.....and others making noise and carrying on. All the places for the geese to be here, with a 10 mile loop around the place....they hang out by the people. I know what these two are saying. "You see Desoto thinks closing the place down to people will get us to stop there?" "LOL yeah". "I hear they let hunters run wild in there shooting deer and it seemed ironic to me!" "Yeah, people in cars tooling around "scares us off" but hunters walking around blasting guns doesn't." "But the real kicker, look at how close we are to all these people right here."

lol anyway, small rant of annoyance the geese don't go to Desoto anymore. And this makes it even worse there now since they close the roads to people thinking that will get them back. You could jussssssttttt about pet these geese here at this time above, at Squaw Creek. And heck I'll include a shot of some traffic at Squaw that the geese don't seem to give a damn about.

One lane gravel road that can be a major pain in the ass on busy days due to inconsiderate folks that won't pull over. It is mind blowing how self-centered so many people are. I about lose my mind there on eagle days. There are areas it's not easy to pass in the grass. You will come up on a group stuck behind some tool doing 5-10mph when you can do 25 and they won't pull over....forever. I will rapidly become the most aggressive prick driver once a small window of time passes on that crap. I'll give them 5 seconds to respond, then blow their doors off in the grass...KNOWING they are probably reporting me now, as people do that there. Same types that likely drive like a snail, too self centered to simply pull over for a second. They don't even have to stop 5mph "motion". Just have to put 2 of their wheels in the grass...but no....they'll do 10mph right down the middle of the most boring stretches of the refuge, not giving a damn anyone is stuck behind them hardly moving. It's normally not like the above either. It's not like there are that many times people are coming up behind them. Man, I lose my mind on that crap as some of it is sooooo mind blowingly stupid. It's worse than chasing convergences! It is!

Anyway, back to Desoto and them closing the refuge to "get the migration stuff back"....cause people and cars are the reason! I'm parked by the geese pile which is a couple car lengths from me. They aren't afraid of cars at Squaw Creek. But then to realize Desoto still has several deer hunts in there a year, well doh. Blowing deer away and people walking around doesn't scare the geese away but cars out on the road will. As evidence above at Squaw Creek!!!! lol

Did this goose just see a person or a car and is ready to head to South Padre? No, he's freaking bathing and cleaning himself off 50 feet from the photographer. They were fun to watch do this. They'd dive in and motor boat forward through a crowd, shaking off like a wet dog at the end of it.

The other more wide angle account is



2010 When Eagles Attack account is



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