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Puffin Island

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Ron Reznick, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. One morning, we piled into a boat and scooted over to this little postage-stamp island that the locals call Puffin Island, for very good reason.
    The island is infested with these cute little birds. They are extremely difficult to photograph, as the dynamic range is quite high between the darker
    rocks and light feathers, esp. when the birds are in partial sun. They are close to impossible to shoot consistently in the air, as they move very fast
    and erratically, probably to confound photographers (it certainly seemed that way -- you should have seen Joe's face when he started trying flight shots...
    it was so priceless I had to take a shot. To avoid possible assault, I'll avoid posting that shot of his expression [chuckle]).

    All but the last shot here were taken with the D2Hs. Need for speed...

    The Puffins typically hang out in small groups on rock ledges:

    200mm f/2VR w/ TC14e (280mm), f/8


    They share some spots with Murres, but as you'll notice above, when a photographer is around they try hard to block the Murre with their wings.
    I arranged to circumvent this blockade for only one shot:

    1:1 crop, 280mm @ f/8


    They feed offshore, flying out to get fish and bringing them back to their ledges to eat. Catching shots of the puffins coming back in with fish is an
    extreme challenge -- these guys are like flying footballs, and they really scoot:

    Both shots, 200mm VR + TC17e (340mm) @ f/8



    Sometimes, they sit on a ledge all by themselves and contemplate the whichness of what:

    200mm f/2 VR @ f/5.6


    They are unbelievably comical, apparently even to each other. They show a great interest in what other individuals are doing. For instance, this
    one puffin came in for a landing, then launched into an operatic aria. Note the interest shown by the neighboring puffin:

    340mm @ f/8



    They seemed quite interested in the huge glass eyes we kept pointing at them:

    340mm @ f/8


    ...they also seemed quite interested in some of the bugs:

    280mm @ f/5.6


    One more flight shot... this time from the D2x and the 300mm, both of which were feeling left out except when shooting static shots. The
    Hs's high-speed frame rate really comes in handy for these little guys, but I didn't want to annoy the "X" so I took some at the end with it:

    D2x, 300mm VR @ f/8


    I hope you enjoyed your little trip to Puffin Island. C'mon back, now...

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2005
  2. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Hi Ron

    Outstanding of course....to the pint where this winter I may consider getting myself an Hs for situations such as this AND I may even get off my butt and go to Machias ME to shoot the puffins there next year.

    I have a Friend who lives in Alaska that keeps begging Jeannie and I to come up and visit with them....I guess it's time to set it up for next year as well :) 

    Hey...I'll bet these were a "lead headed *****" to shoot"
  3. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  4. Rob


    Jul 28, 2005
    Truro, Cornwall, UK
    Wonderful photography Ron, thank you. I will continue to wait for the 70-200 production line to get in gear.

    The fish are sandeels or krill, the staple diet of Puffins. During the 1980's factory ships hoovered these from the seas around Shetland, with the obvious result of a dramatic reduction in Puffins. The Government then launched a 'study' to find out why the population had crashed.

    Oh I'm getting cynical again! :mad: 

    The sandeels were crushed and spread on fields as fertiliser, hence my frustration. The two legged destroyer strikes again.
  5. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Nice shots Ron. I'd love to get some shots at this species. I just love their color, and always love a challenge. :wink:
  6. a most enjoyable series Ron.
  7. Beautiful Ron. Bill Dewey and I took a puffin cruise earlier this year. The only thing harder than shooting flying puffins is trying to shoot them off a moving boat in rough water :smile: :smile:
  8. These Puffins are cool little guys Ron and you have captured them so well. I really like the one flying in with two fish in its mouth and then of course the two Puffins playing on the rocks. Well done.
  9. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi Ron -

    Wonderful shots, as always, but the two PIF with fish in their beaks are very special. Well done!

  10. Hi Guys!

    Sorry about the delay -- I spent all day with Tomoko rather than the computer...

    Thanks, Gordon, Gordon, Dave and Frank. I'm so pleased that you liked them. I have so many more interesting shots of these guys that it was tough just selecting the 10. The four hours or so went by very rapidly.

    I can imagine shooting them from a moving boat would be even more fun (!). Those guys certainly are a challenge.

    Rob, the 70-200 is a very nice lens... normally too short for all but the large wildlife at relatively close distances unless you're shooting a wildlife/scenic though. I'd plan on having at least the TC14e to go along with it. I'm not sure why the pipeline is empty now...

    Congratulations on your acquisition of the 300VR, Paul. You are certainly going to LOVE that lens! Don't forget to half-press the shutter at least a second or so before shooting to let the VR settle for best results. When tracking moving targets when you're not sure when you're going to shoot, it's best to keep that shutter half pressed. Don't be reluctant to shoot it wide open either -- the performance at f/2.8 is magnificent.

    No -- I don't use the recording feature. Maybe I should sometimes...

    I'd better let Joe decide whether or not to post that shot. The better part of valor and all that :^)

    Jim, you're right -- except the expression is "lead-plated *****" [chuckle].

    The Hs really is a superb camera. I think a lot of folks don't even consider it as it doesn't deliver the huge images that the "X" does (or that the eventual D200 will), but in many cases this is not a hardship. The shadow detail it delivers, as well as the shadow transitions, are superb. Noise character is as well (for higher ISO work), the workflow is faster and easier on storage and computer power (plus the CF requirements are far lower), and it is far more forgiving of a slight miss in focus due to the lower density of the sensor. You can get the high FPS speed without having to work in HSC mode, which is very handy when the targets are moving erratically or unpredictably (I've cut wings off with the "X" in HSC mode). It gives a far better yield for handheld shots. It makes a superb 2nd body and in some situations (such as low-light) it's the better choice.

    Do try to get to Alaska if you can some day. Try July...

    Glad you liked these, fellows. I'll be processing the other 100+ images from that shoot soon, and I'll post a few.

  11. Those Puffins are great creatures!

    The images look awesome also...I aspire to be this good ;) 

    Ron are you going to do any instructional classes here in Southern California any time soon?


  12. Brett, I'll do one-on-one sessions locally, but except for the group-session in NH on Oct. 5-7 I won't be doing any more group-sessions this year. Let me know if you're interested...

  13. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Great shots, great looking birds almost look like a cartoon character :biggrin:

    so glad I use an Hs now just need some talent and faster glass :redface:
  14. You've got some very nice shots up on your gallery, Ben... just try to keep your shutter speed up when the shot is going to be marginal and your yield will go up.

    Yes, I know... that's where the fast glass helps. :rolleyes: 
  15. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Outstanding Images, Ron

    Ron, Your images are truly wonderful, I really like the composition and contrasts in the rock formations. The birds caught in flight are amazing...I can only imagine how difficult it is to pan with them. Your images are always so inspiring!
  16. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    thanks Ron for taking a look at my Gallery didn't expect that, thrilled you did!!
    Dbl thanks for the tip will burn it to memory and try to use when I can/should
    I'm still so new at the Hs that I forget I can bump ISO to hold the shutter speed :redface:
  17. D2Xcrazy


    Aug 23, 2005
    Absolutely beautiful.
  18. Thanks, Geoff. I'm pleased that you enjoyed the 'show'.

  19. AS I have said many times, absolutely awesome shots. When I view your posts, you always leave me wanting more, and this series is no different. What a unique bird, its now on my hitlist!! :wink:
  20. They are very entertaining as well as being cute and comical... plus, they're in your general area (gotta go to the coast though). Post some when you get 'em, OK?

    Thanks for the compliment, Keith. :biggrin:

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