The timeline for this set of pictures is the first half of March and they were taken on different days and places as you will discover reading. During this period I have made what was probably, my biggest mistake made in wildlife photography.
When I first started photography I was shooting Raw+ JPEG but after a while, I stopped having a purpose for those Jpeg files so I have decided to only shoot Raw files. Because the Raw files take a lot of space and they cannot be open with all the programs, one day, for one particular photo shot of my girlfriend, I have set the camera on JPEG mode. I guess you can imagine what happened next… your right… I left my camera on JPEG mode for about one month. That means that pictures that I truly like have only 5 MB instead of 24 MB and the amount of details that I can work with, in post-processing, is much lower. If I resume to sharing my pictures on social media it is not such a big problem but if I want to print a picture then I will regret my decision of switching the mode to JPEG for saving some space. To avoid doing the same mistake in the future I am now keeping the camera on shooting Raw all times and I take the time to delete the files in order to save space.
It was the first day of March when I first went exploring the north side of one of the lakes that are close to home. A much smaller man-made lake or pond is on this side and that was what determined me to see if I can maybe find a good place for photography. Indeed I found one as you will see from my pictures as the small pond is next to the cycling lane which is much lower than the water level. So, if I stay next to the cycling lane I can photograph over the small hill, at water level, without disturbing the animals. The only problem is that it is rare to find some other animals than Black-headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) there.
That was the case on the first day also so I have moved on and found this Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) somewhere near the pond. It was resting in the grass undisturbed by me and my girlfriend so I’ve laid down to get some eye leveled shots. When it started yawning I’ve held down the shutter and I captured the whole scene in a series of pictures. While I was photographing the bird the people that passed on the street nearby could not see exactly what I was doing because I was on a higher level so one person asked my girlfriend, who was standing next to me, if everything was ok, probably imagining that I’ve fainted or something. Because the bird was mostly static, I have used a lower shutter speed of 1/500 sec. to avoid raising the ISO too high (ISO 1100 in this case) and I have also used +0,3 exposure compensation to retain as much information in the blacks as possible.
The next day and some days after, I have returned to that place, this time having more luck in finding some activity on the lake/pond. Because between the place from where I shoot and the water there is a sort of a hill I can use it to create some interesting composition, an idea borrowed from a photographer friend. This photo is one example where the head of the Greylag goose (Anser anser) is in the first third of the photo while the rest of the photo is all ‘’empty space’’. I’ve ended up liking this composition stile more and more so you will see it again if you follow my work.
A Common magpie (Pica pica) landed on the hill in front of me, did some gymnastic and flew away. The second photo of the flying Magpie is from another day and another place. To freeze the motion I have used a fast shutter speed of 1/3200 sec.
Around the lake, a flock of European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) was constantly searching for food in the grass. After many failed attempts to get a nice picture I have shot the following one that makes some justice to this beautiful bird.
On the lake, a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) was fishing. Unfortunately, he didn’t catch anything while he was in my sight so I still have to wait for the photo of a cormorant with pray. 1/1000 sec. was enough to get a sharp image while the ISO was kept at low values of ISO c450. I have also used a +0,3 exposure bias as the subject is of dark color.
All of those opportunities were nice, but the most exciting one happened when this Greylag goose (Anser anser) that was preening started flapping its wings. I was watching him through the lens when he started flapping so I was ready to get the right framing and to use all the frames/second power of the camera. I had the camera set to F 6.3, 1/1000 sec. shutter speed, +0,3 exposure compensation, and the auto ISO went to 900 in these pictures. This was enough to get sharp images of the geese’s body but the wings that were moving much faster turned out blurry which gives the movement sensation to the photo. In this kind of situations when I have more frames that look good, I find it very hard to decide which one I like best. In this case, I believe the second one to be the best because of the position of the wings and the fact that is the sharpest at the face. Leave a comment bellow and let me know which one you like the best!
On a beautiful Sunday, I had a wonderful walk around a different lake, one that lately has become my favorite as I found two spots where I can lay at water level. I found many subject to photograph that day among which one of the cutest and one of my favorite birds, the Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus). Because it is such a restless and shy species I found it hard to get good pictures of it but this time I was lucky and got at least one that satisfied me.
Closer to the water a Reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) showed up between the reeds curiously looking at me. I found the Reed bunting and the Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) to be the most common species that I find around the lake, that’s why more photos with this two species will be shared soon.
Of course, the Greylag goose (Anser anser) is customary on almost any lake here is Denmark and if I see an interesting frame or behavior I will take the shot. I like the goofiness look of the bird in the first picture; it is like I’ve surprised her doing something illegal. For the second picture, I have totally missed the focus which is very sad because: look at that composition… it is, in my opinion, just perfect and it is just a matter of chance to get this composition again. It is also true that I could have used a higher shutter speed than the 1/800 sec. used, to be sure that I avoid the blur created by the shutter speed.
On the lake, a lot of ducks were searching for food among which this Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula). The waves helped to get this composition were only the duck’s head can be seen while the body is hidden behind a wave.
This Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) picture is the only one left to share from a day when I’ve visited the Stubbe lake bird reservation. The bird welcomed us as soon as we got out of the car by perching on a wood fence next to the parking lot. I like the yellow on red contrast, too bad this is a heavy crop.
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment below with any suggestion, information, story… anything.
Please follow on social media, share if you enjoyed and support if you really enjoyed. Have a great spotting!
For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look at INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book used for identification, here.