Working on New Title with the 800mm
There is one thing in this world I’m the best at, and that’s sitting on a rock staring at a hole in the ground for 18hrs to get the photo. Well, today I started a new pursuit, all the same thing except looking at a nest at the top of a tree. Other than the pointed rock pushing my underwear in a place it ought not be, it was a great, great perch to watch life! I started working a Red-tailed Hawk nest this week not too far from our home. I’ve not photographed a raptor nest in detail for its duration ever in my career and I’m very excited this just might be the year. And to say it’s a challenge and one I’m already really liking is an understatement!
The first challenge is reaching my perch to see into their perch. As you can see in the photo, I’ve gotta hike up the road and than climb up the hill to be able to get this great view right into the nest which is at the top of a gorgeous Jeffrey Pine. I climb with all the gear set up to go. Perched on top of the Gitzo 5561SGT w/ Wimberley Head(w/ RRS Quick Release mount attached) is the Nikon 800f5.6 AFS (w/TC-25e) and Nikon D4. Why climb with all that on my shoulder? Because climbing with a photopack and tripod and than trying to set it all up on a hillside scares the crap out of me! Once in place on my rock perch, I sat, watched and thought. I’m about 200′ from the nest once I’m at my rock ledge. The best part about nest photography is the time not shooting when life forces me to just watch. And that’s what I did for hours, watch three 10-14day old chicks sleep and defecate. Life gets no better!
I am often asked why I use the Gitzo 5561SGT which is an expensive 12′ tripod when I’m only 6′. This is a perfect example why. I need to shoot at eyelevel even when on the side of the hill. By extending the two legs down slope an extra leg section, I can stand behind the tripod and not be all bent over. When you’re working a situations like this for hours and hours, being bent over is simply back breaking. At the same time, stability of the whole rig is sacrificed when you’re bent over. It was already windy, the tree swaying. But when you zoom in (using the link above), you’ll see that the Gitzo provided the 800mm w/TC.25e (1000mm!) a very stable platform so it could deliver its blistering sharp quality. So I watched, shot video and photographed the nest and the adult coming in and feeding the kids a snake. I’ve had a great beginning and can’t wait until the next time I’m there and finishing up this fun project. mtc