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Pray for prey

Discussion in 'Birds' started by PJohnP, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    I commented in another thread on shooting at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City (https://www.nikoncafe.com//forums/viewtopic.php?p=9932#9932). I'm extremely grateful to the Aviary for their support of my photography in allowing me to shoot their birds under many circumstances.

    One such moment came in photographing an Andean Condor, nicknamed, of all things, "Andy".

    This Andean Condor has a wingspan of about eleven feet and holds the eyes of every visitor closely. He looks over a person as if they were incipient prey, somewhat inconveniently located outside the cage, but eventually to fall within his dietary requirements, which seem highly elastic given all the people he surveys.

    In this case, I shot again from outside the large cage it inhabits. I wanted to get some close head-shots that would expose the wrinkled skin of the head.

    As usual with these things, there are challenges to overcome.

    The Andean Condor has a ruff of stark white fine feathers surrounding the head at the neck, with dark brown and grey feathers on the body. The head has both pink and grey elements, with a largish ivory coloured beak. The enclosure had elements of sharp shadow and stark sunlight.

    Without some care, the white ruff of feathers would blow out, or the shadow details of the head would be lost.

    As I positioned my camera, the bird proceeded to look right at me, shriek several times, and then disdainfully looked away. Fortunately for me, I lack any sense of self-preservation, and simply shot away.

    I call the first shot, "Pray for Prey".

    D100, 200-400mm AFS/VR, TC17E (net 550mm), ISO200, 1/250s, f/9, exp. comp. -1.0 EV, processed in NC, no crop

    The second one could be called, "You're Just Carrion On".

    D100, 200-400mm AFS/VR, TC17E (net 490mm), ISO200, 1/125s, f/9, exp. comp. -1.0 EV, processed in NC, no crop

    As before, the cage creates some background and bokeh effects. In addition, the rear cage wall creates additional effects. Note that the aperture f/9 reflects the teleconverter attached to the f/4 lens, with a slight adjustment to get a touch longer DOF. I later tried several shots with f/11 to try and gain more DOF on the beak of the bird, but the "cage effect" became more obvious.

    Even if you have a sudden need to prey, always shoot.

    John P.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  2. Great shot of the condor....looks like a turtle with a old Air Force flight jacket....hehehehe :D  :D  :D  :D  :D  :D 

    Sure wish we had birds like that here in Alabama. :D  :D  :D 
  3. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Hey Dawg !

    Look around you there in scenic Alabama, and you're sure to find turkey vultures !!! They're every bit as beautifully ugly as the Andean Condor, if scaled down a bit in size.

    Turkey vultures sure do smell bad, though. :shock: :oops: 

    John P.
  4. I will John. Talk about stinky.......my family and I were driving through an animal park today and the emus there stunk like a dead fish... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: ........NASTY!!!
  5. Hey John, way cool shots. I get up to Salt Lake often and never even stopped by Liberty Park and the Tracy Aviary. I remember as I kid I used to go there often as I only lived about 2 miles from there.
  6. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Bryan :

    Yup. That's one of the less attractive parts of what we do.

    And you should shoot in some of the chemical plants I visit for my work. Whew !

    John P.
  7. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gordon :

    They're extremely supportive of people shooting at the Aviary, and genuinely great people to deal with, while being highly protective of their avian wards. I've shared a lot of photos with them, and plan to share more for their soon-to-be-updated website.

    Note that they're currently preparing for a large show opening in the summer, so some areas are under construction.

    Stop in the next time you go through SLC. I'll probably go by when I'm back in SLC the week of April 18th...

    John P.
  8. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Well done John. I'm glad to see you posting over here at the Cafe. I've always enjoyed your pics and your commentary.


  9. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Man, these are excellent, John!

    Phenomenal details! You really managed to hold the white highlights well with a -1 Ev Comp. Are these fences you're shooting through here, the standard chain link type? Reason for asking, is that there's a wildlife rescue not far from here that have numerous exotic animals there, and I'd like to try my hand at shooting them, but they're all enclosed in chain link fence.
  10. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Re: Man, these are excellent, John!

    Steve :

    Thanks for the supportive comments. Holding the details wasn't easy, and I think working in matrix allowed me to have the overall darkness of some elements of the image balance the highlights.

    Close to the "standard" chain link, at least from what I saw. You'll need to shoot some test images to get a comfortable feeling for where the subject needs to be with respect to the fence to keep the fence from showing up in a discernable way in the photo.

    One thing I haven't mentioned is that you won't really be able to tell just how well this has worked if you're "chimping" on the viewer on your camera. You need a full size image to really see if you blurred out the chain with a short DOF.

    Another thing (I'm going to have to create a thread just on this subject, I can see) is the light level. Low light levels, for reasons I'm still investigating, seems to manifest a greater "cage artifact" than bright light conditions. I shot photos of an ocelot indoors at the Hogel Zoo where this was an issue.

    But I'll be keen to see your photos and learn more from your experience !

    John P.
  11. The color range and detail is incredible and a great job shooting through the cages, when done right it is almost impossible to tell. A face only a mother could love.
  12. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Mike :

    Heh. Well, the lens makes a heck of a difference for getting "up close and personal" with this bird. I'm still trying to codify just how to shoot successfully through cages.

    Interestingly, the people I met and worked with at the Tracy Aviary have a immense level of warmth and affection for "Andy". I have to confess that I found him a quite compelling subject, and I plan to try and get more shots of him again.

    What's that line from Pulp Fiction ? Hmmm... {Paraphrasing} "I wouldn't go so far as to call a pig filthy, but they're definitely dirty. But a condor's got personality. And personality goes a long way."

    John P.
  13. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    ROFL - well adapted.

    Fine images John and again a very instructive and useful post. It's much appreciated.

    One question, and I strongly suspect I know the answer, but is there a little pink in the ruff or is it just my old, cheap and uncalibrated monitor?

  14. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Neil :

    The original doesn't have it. Can't comment otherwise.

    John P.
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