The Kingfishers of the Cowichan Bay Estuary

Discussion in 'Birds' started by andreasb, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. When my jetski got stolen in July we found the trailer down by the river here in my home town here in Duncan, Vancouver Island.
    Whilst trying to find it I floated down the Cowichan River in an inner tube - with a branch as a paddle. I saw no jet ski, but I saw about 40 (!) belted Kingfishers flying all around me. It was as frustrating as it could be - no camera and some of them flew as close as 10 feet away from me! I learnt to recognize their chattering birdsong.

    Since then I have been on a mission to get good shots of them. They are so small and fast and they like to fly against the dark backgrounds that are so hard to get AF focus to work. I have tried every setting there is on the D2X, but it is very hard to get it to focus on a small object that is moving fast (and I’m pretty slow following them too!)

    But yesterday and today my luck changed and I got some decent shots.

    First two are with the 300mm F2.8 VR, both are heavily cropped, thank goodness for 12MP!
    50248088.

    50248089.

    Then today I had the 500mm AF-S F4 setup with the big tripod and the Wimberley, set up with HSC (high speed crop), continuous AF mode, Shutter Focus priority, Dynamic pattern 1 closest subject priority, AF lock ON. And the machine gun shutter set to high speed. I had tried a few test shots so exposure was ready to go with minus 1.3 dialed in.

    I was ready for the kingfishers to come.

    But nothing happened for 20 minutes and I got ready to go home. I focused on a branch and thought to myself wouldn’t it be nice if one would just sit down right there. And then out of nowhere a kingfisher came and sat on the branch where I was aiming, and all I had to do was press the shutter and 4 shots went off, in half a second. Then the D2X stopped shooting, probably because it thought it was just slightly out of focus. I tried to turn of continuous focus, and as I did so the bird flew off. But I got 4 shots off and they are pretty much identical so here is the last one of them:
    original.

    I’m pretty happy with them. To bad on the last one the eye was in the shade…

    And by the way the Police found the jet ski abandoned two weeks later in reasonably good shape...
     
  2. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Well done Kingfisher shots
    and believe me I know how hard they are to capture and you've done well
     
  3. Flew

    Flew

    994
    Jan 25, 2005
    Alabama
    Way to go Andreas!! Kingfishers are high on my target list too. I did get some shots at Viera a couple of weekends ago, but they were pretty far out. They seem to have the ability to hover and fly just outside of ideal camera range.

    How are you liking the 300VR?
     
  4. Thanks Frank, I know you will get your Kingfishers too!

    The 300mm VR is the stuff that Lens Lust Disease is made of - to paraphrase....

    Extremely sharp at F2.8 and blistering at F3.2. It is a bit heavy to handhold, but one can do it. VR works extremely well when you handhold it. VR does not work as well on a tripod - I usually turn it off. Takes the TC14EII well. I haven't tried the other two TC's yet. I have some issues with the D2X and focus hunting on small objects in the viewfinder when in Centerfocus mode, so I ususally put it in closest subject priority mode(s) while shooting. With the D100 I don't have those issues - it focuses just fine.
     
  5. Thanks Ben, I'm pretty pleased - they are all quite a lot sharper then what I can get out of Pbase...

     
  6. Great captures of an elusive bird, see good things come to he who waits!
     
  7. Andréas, that last shot is exceptionally nice. I like the isolation effect and bokeh. Very nice indeed!!
     
  8. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    Andréas :

    Nicely done, sir !

    Kingfishers are a bit tricky to get exposure right on, as the dark head loses detail if we hold the highlights on the neck and lower belly, or vice-versa, we get the head and eyes well exposed, and the whites blow out. You did an excellent job with these shots.

    One thought about the last one - have you tried Digital DEE or D-Light with that shot ? You might get get just that little bit more of the head/eye lightened.

    But that's a nit, as the shots are glorious. Welcome to the Kingfisher Photographers Club !



    John P. (I'll lay claim to starting the most recent kingfisher shooting trend...)
     
  9. Thank you John, yes they are tricky, problem was that he (?) was looking at me so the suns didnt hit his eyes. and the D2X stopped shooting if it would have gone on i would have caught him when he flew off.

    Yes i have tried d-lightning, and selective brightening of that area in CS2, it gets noisy real fast it is to dark to recover for a monitor, untouched i think it will show up on a good print though....

    It's nice to join the club, I'm honored

     
  10. Thank you Kevin, yes i like the isolation and the brnach there as well.

     
  11. And you need a bit of luck as well! thanks for the kind words!

     
  12. I have yet to film a Kingfisher. They whiz by so fast and by the time I recognize them they are away. You did a magnificent job.
     
  13. drueter

    drueter

    963
    Apr 24, 2005
    Southeast Texas
    Beautiful shots, Andreas! Those birds are very difficult to capture, particularly in flight. Well done!
     
  14. jkamphof

    jkamphof Guest

    Nice shots! The last one turned out quite nice even with the dark eye area. I was near ya at my parents house in Cobble Hill a month ago and the only birds I saw were the big black vultures...I'm kinda jealous.... ;)


    Joel.
     
  15. What a captivating bird and your images bring that out. Way to go.
     
  16. Aha - I see you have been busy. I will have to get some tips on where to lurk!
     
  17. Congradulations Andreas. These are great and I do know how very hard they are to get :smile: :smile:

    Looks like the camera did a good job of tracking the focus on a fast moving bird even with the background in shots one and two.

    I just returned from a twelve day trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone. Boy do they have the wildlife there.

    Are you still coming to Seattle and would you like to get together at Juanita? If so send me a PM and we can see if our schedules will work. Thanks for posting these grand shots.
     
  18. Yes I'm doing my best to keep busy!

    The spot is down by the Coaichan Bay Estuary, I had trekked for 2 hours carrying the 300, came back to about 100 meters before the car, and there it was on the other side of the river. The sidepanning shot was just lucky - the other 10 or so shots from that sequence are all OOF :)


     
  19. Thanks James I sent you a PM, As for tracking it was mostly prefocused, so that helps, I'm still trying to figure out what settings to shoot with, none of them work that well


     
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