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on Jul 6, 2011 in Wildlife Photography

They Are Sooooo Cute

They are so cute! I just love grouse chicks. As soon as they are dry after hatching, they are up and going! Now they might trip on the grass, run under mom everytime a pine needle hits the ground, but they are just amazing! Now, how do you take advantage of this kind of situation?

First, I’m incredibly lucky this all unfolded on our property. It’s just me and the grouse. Watching their actions, feeding and moving on, watching their path and looking towards where they are going you can figure out possible places they will stop and graze. Mom is walking as slow as she can, the kids are running all out to keep up. And the light….it’s just dark!

With all that movement and the slow shutter speed (1/25 – 1/80), any movement will blur. That can be a plus and a minus depending on how you plan your shot. Using Peak of Action, you can stop a lot of movement even at slower shutter speeds. You will still have images that are soft, but you will have many that are sharp. In this case of the dandelion blossom disappearing, I like the little bit of movement.

Still on one knee, handholding and with the light no better, I was shooting nearly wide open. The band of focus is pretty narrow and at 400mm and how close the click was to me, it worked perfectly! I didn’t want the background in focus, didn’t want the foreground either so I placed the chick as you see it in the frame for those reasons. Pretty simple stuff, just having fun shooting the wildlife in the yard.

10min later, they are heading back towards the forest and the rain is coming harder. I had errands to run so I put the camera in the house, told Jake where the grouse family were and left. As we were leaving, Jake was walking out with his 200-400 and had more fun with the family until the down pour just got too intense.

Why no flash fill? I know that question is coming so thought I would head it off at the pass. Many reasons, the main one being I liked the light quality. I didn’t need to mess with it, I wanted the stormy feel to the images. The next, it would add more weight to the gear and I was already shooting slow enough I didn’t want to hassle it. Lastly, I didn’t want to take the few extra minutes to grab it. Could you use flash fill here? Heck ya, easily and quite successfully. If all conditions were perfect, do you wish you had grabbed your flash? Nope! Why not? Flash would have changed the whole feel. I like it just the way they it is.

Photos captured by D3x, 200-400VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film