Pileated Woodpecker Feeding - My D500 Take with Jim

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Jan 26, 2005
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Marysville, WA
I met Jim at the Pileated nest yesterday afternoon. We had been told of this nest and location by another friend, he happens to be a Canon shooter but we tolerate him anyway as long as he tells us about things like this :D This is a park near his house, he happened to be going for a walk, sans camera, when he saw one of the adults fly away from the tree, quickly he got his camera, the rest is history!

When I got there yesterday Jim had been there 15-20 minutes already. So we waited ... and waited .... more waiting ... over an hour later the phone rings and who is it? None other than our friend Morrie who is stuck in traffic. As we chat he tells me that obviously the woodpeckers are waiting for him, when suddenly I say "Wait", put my hand with the phone in it on top of my lens as the darned adult had just flown in! Timing is everything, the Male had just flown in:

1. Dad hangin' with the kids
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2. Dad Takeoff #1, kids all covered up
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#3. Dad Takeoff #2, Hurry back with more Goodies, Dad!
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Not nearly as long a wait for Mom to come home, just under 17 minutes. One fellow that was there was saying that we saw both the Male and Female, I wasn't sure until I saw the red on the face of Dad.

4. Mom Hangin' with the kids. I liked the catch light in all three eyes
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5. Mom Takeoff - Hurry Back, Mom!
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I am thinking I may have cropped this last one a bit too close, what do you think? Also getting some green reflection from all the foliage, thinking about desaturating the green a bit, you thoughts?

Yesterday was the only day I will have to shoot these, I sure was fortunate. Could have been a bit brighter, but I'm not complaining.

Thanks Morrie and Jim, I owe you both for these :D
 
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#1 and #4 shots are on the money. The flight shots to me just don't appear as crisp as I would have expected.. But then again what do I know?
 

Butlerkid

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#1 and #4 shots are on the money. The flight shots to me just don't appear as crisp as I would have expected.. But then again what do I know?
ISO 5000 and shutter speed of 1/800 may explain it. Bill mentions that more light would have been nice.


Great shots, Bill. Love #4!
 
Joined
May 15, 2005
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Well done my friend. It was indeed a real treat to witness and photograph this. Better light yesterday than I had on Monday but it would have been even better with a little more light in order to get those shutter speeds up. Hard trade off. In this case I do not think we could have pushed up the shutter speed to a high enough level to stop the action and get any detail. I think you did grand.
 
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First of all, thank you all so very much for the nice comments. So far this year I have been rather blessed with baby bird feedings. This Pileated pair and the European Starlings were big bonuses for me.

Desert Rat, you are correct on the flight shots. This is one reason I noted that I may have cropped them too tightly, a little less would, I think, have them looking a bit better. As Karen noted, thanks Karen, these were at 1/8oo, when you figure that I was shooting with the 600mm f4 plus 1.4TC on a DX camera I should have been at a minimum of 1/1600. Even the super AF on the D500 could not quite keep up with the quick take-off, but it is pretty darned close. One other thing I am finding with the D500 is that I can be a bit more agressive with sharpening, which I have not yet done. I also like #1 and #4 as they show the little ones clearly as well as both adults.

Karen, you are spot on with the ISO and SS comment. Here is a funny story about the second feeding with the female. I had just decided to remove the TC to get both a bit more "light" as well as a bit more space. I had just turned off the camera and was reaching up to remove the TC when Mom flew in, lucky for me I had not already taken the camera off the lens. The adults did not stay long at all.

Louie, I think these D500's could be SO much better, I just don't know why Nikon didn't make them so. Then again, something about "cold dead hands" comes to mind :D I keep going back to a comment I read first on DPR, I believe by Jim Pearce "these cameras just get out of your way". These flight shots are a good example of where the Erratic setting may have helped, but it is hard to say for sure.

One other thing I found intersting was that when photographing the nest itself we were generally at about 2800-3200, but as soon as the bird took off the ISO popped up as it got more under the branches. Funny how quickly that exposure can change under the tree canopy.
 
Joined
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Bill I agree about the ISO going up quickly when you moved the camera tracking the birds. Since it was pretty dark we both had to make those tough decisions, high ISO or faster SS. I think we pretty much compromised as best we could. Maybe here would have been a spot the D5 would have been perfect for. I think we did great for the conditions. I know I am happy.
 
Joined
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Great action...love to see this. cute family setting.

Thanks. It really is fun to project human thinking, makes no sense, but we do it anyway!

Bill I agree about the ISO going up quickly when you moved the camera tracking the birds. Since it was pretty dark we both had to make those tough decisions, high ISO or faster SS. I think we pretty much compromised as best we could. Maybe here would have been a spot the D5 would have been perfect for. I think we did great for the conditions. I know I am happy.

Jim, it would be really interesting to see how this changes if we had better light. I did get some yesterday, but ISO's were still 1250-2000. Between the canopy of the trees and some clouds, that light really gets cut down quickly. I'd rather have higher SS and even stop down a bit, but as you say, compromises. Frankly I'm not sure the D5 would have made that much difference. In order to get the same FOV we would have had to add TC's, which again loses us light.

I'm so glad I am completely resistant to NAS and am not at all tempted by the D500 and these great pictures. :sleep::hungover::whistle::cry:

Thanks, Nick. But be honest, you are simple a cheapskate who doesn't want to support future Nikon development ;):p
 
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These guys are so aggressive and I am amazed that they don't poke and blind the parents during feeding.
Sending more sunshine your way.
 
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