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on Feb 26, 2009 in Wildlife Photography

Call the Coast Guard – beached whale!

This is so damn embarrassing! I must be dedicated to something to be posting these photos (and a sicko to ask Sharon to take them in the first place). But this is the only way I could teach the technique since I forgot the MooseCam in the truck.

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Why is my ass in the air? Better question is, why am I on the ground, sand? I’m surely not taking a nap.

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No, I’m not doing my beached whale imitation. I’m getting down low because that’s where my subject is. Background is everything and when photographing shorebirds in the sand, getting flat, kissing the sand is essential. This is the difference in shooting this Black-bellied Plover standing up and laying on the sand. You get down low using this great took, the Panning Plate

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The “freesbee” is from PetCo, that’s important because of the fit. You crawl around in the sand/mud in getting close physically. You often push your big lens along and at times, can pick it up just slightly for bigger moves. If the freesbee keeps falling off, you run the risk of scaring the subject as well as putting your valuable big lens in the sand. The last piece of  gear you need with you is a clean towel. This is to wipe your hands off prior to picking up your gear after standing up. Stand up with care so you don’t cover your gear with sand from your clothes and than wipe off your hands that have been in the sand.

Just getting down low helps a ton with the background, but being selective is still important. When you are on their level, you can, if you have the light, shoot closed down. In fact, it’s almost a must! This photo was taken at f/11 and I wish I had gone to f/16.The photo was taken pretty close to noon. Why does the light look right, not too contrasty? The sand /water when you’re at that level acts like the best reflector Adorama has to offer. It fills in the shadows perfectly.

So next time you see a beached whale, walk around it with care, it probably has a very small bird in its sights :)

Photo captured by D3x, 600VR w/TC-17e on Lexar UDMA digital film.