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on Mar 8, 2019 in Wildlife Photography

Glass Balancing Act

Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep
captured Z6 / 180-400VR

Balancing image size between physically moving (be it feet or hands) or not is the balancing act we need to dance every time we’re shooting critters. Understand I have to critical precepts to my photography, the first is, NO photograph is worth sacrificing the welfare of the subject. None! Second, I get it right, right in the camera. I don’t crop in post. Right or wrong, that is just my SOP, has been forever. With that in mind, working or “hiding” behind our big glass is essential in getting close physically, isolating with our optics while not altering the behavior of the critter to get the images size we desire. It is, a glass balancing act!

Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep
captured Z6 / 180-400VR w/int 1.4x

In this case, we have three, Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep rams coming down the slope to check out the ewes and see where they are going. I’m standing totally out in the open, they can see Moose with no strain. My moving though would have stopped their forward motion which not only is affecting their behavior but defeats the whole “getting a larger image size” to get a better photo philosophy. So if physically moving, walking closer, is out of the question, you gotta do something with glass. With big game, last fall I would have gone with the Nikkor 200-400VR2 / TC-14eIII option. If I was zoomed out to 400mm, the only way I could go longer would be to add the 1.4x. There were times when moving my arms/hands in that process isn’t possible because it would affect the critters behavior. That’s the principle reason why I spent the money and went with the 180-400VR. Adding the 1.4x is a simple flip of a lever. That isn’t the option for most and until it was available, wasn’t for me either. It just means that whatever glass solution you have, like the 300PF with 1.4 & 2x, High Speed Crop, or whatever your solution, you recognize what the critters behavior is or might be, what you need to do to get the image size you desire and act to get that photo without altering their behavior. It’s a tall order YOU can master, must master and is a huge part of the reward of wildlife photography when you succeed at the glass balancing act.

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