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on Jul 7, 2009 in Wildlife Photography

The Creek Magic

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I needed some teaching images for a project, so Jake & I headed out at 05:00 starting on the shore of Mono Lake. After a very good couple of hours there, we headed off to the hills. We went to where we always know we can photograph birds, the creek. Most of the nesting birds are just starting to fledge their young, the American Dipper was no different. They build a moss “iglo” nest next to or under a waterfall, a crazy affair that is really cool. You see it here with the fledgling on the left at the entrance of the nest that then goes back under the ledge. You also see one of the major problems of photographing the nest, water! We’re talking lots of it that splashes and sprays often getting between you and the subject and messing up an otherwise cool photo.

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The other big problem which interacts with the first is, it’s dark as sin! Flash has got to be used and with a roaring creek between you and the nest, the Better Beamer is a must. How does that interact with the water? The spray and splash is between you and the nest, or to be more exact, between the flash and the subject. Since it’s closer and somewhat opaque, it creates a curtain of haze that kills the photo. To get the photo like you see here, you have to make the most of every opportunity when the adult comes in and cross your fingers there is no water blowing up. The flash is acting as flash fill in these photos, set to -2 Comp to just barely bring up the exposure and more importantly, bring up the color.

Photos captured by D3x, 600VR w/TC-14e using the SB-900, SD-9, Better Beamer on Lexar UDMA digital film