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on Jun 10, 2013 in Landscape Photography

What’s at the River

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For decades the Cliff Swallows have been nesting on this 1920’s bridge structure. The roadway is long gone but the supports remain making great structures for the mud nests of the swallows. I work the colony every spring, arriving at sunrise and shooting for a short period until the light gets hard (which is about 25min). I’ve tried a whole bunch of techniques over the years but have yet to get the photos I have in my mind.

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Using my basic bird photography rig: D4, (including Di-GPS) Nikon 800f5.6 AFS (w/TC800-25e), on the Gitzo 5561SGT w/ Wimberley Head (w/ RRS Quick Release mount attached). All this rig was perched on the edge of the river about 20-30′ away from the three structures holding the colony. The “trick” is to photograph the biology while minimizing the tremendous glare from the mud nests. If only our afternoon thunderstorms would form at sunrise, I’d have it easy but such is not the case.

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There is a couple of aspects of the colony that are really attractive. First if you’re shooting at eyelevel with the nests which is special. Normally you have to shoot up on them. Second is the blue background, the water of the river that is just three feet below the nests. And as you can see, there is plenty of biology going on. From just hanging out at the colony to bringing in nesting material and the bottom photo, competition amongst each other. While you’re reading this, I’m at the river again trying to improve on what I’ve taken before and photograph what I’ve missed.