Jun 1, 2010

When Everything Comes Together!

Ever have one of those days where it seems almost everything works out in your favor?  When everything comes together?

I had to send my favorite camera in for repair a few weeks back right after it developed a sticky 'play' button with hopes of getting it returned for wedding season.  This camera has become 'it' for me and my older ones have been collecting a little dust since last fall.  Not having the camera has been making me feel a quite 'iffy' about photographing as of late.

While photographing this Saturday past everything seemed to work out incredibly for me even without my 'baby'!

Leanne and I decided first thing on in the morning to head to scenic Bonne Bay Pond, just east of Gros Morne National Park.  We packed the essentials of clothes, and some food my camera gear and headed north.

After we settled in I strolled out into the garden and had a listen for some singing birds.  I honestly didn't hear much and was a little disappointed thinking the day could be off to a poor start. 

Upon having that thought a White Throated Sparrow's flew by me.  It was so close to me that the sound of it's wings in flight actually startled me!

*NOTE, Please Click all images to view larger!



Singing White Throated Sparrow.  Bonne Bay Pond.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 400.  1/500th @ f5.6

For some time this little sparrow sang his heart out on some of the most beautiful perches like this stump!  It wasn't until I knew I had bagged some good images of the Sparrow that I noticed a small bird moving from one fir tree to another about 15 feet up.  Through my lens I caught a glimpse of a small, almost florescent orange crest on the head on the petite bird.  Ruby Crowned Kinglet!

If you have no idea as to their size the RC Kinglet is only about 4 inches in length, including the tail, and weighs in around 1/5 to just a tad less than 1/3 ounces!  They are one of the smallest song birds in North America.



Perched Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  Bonne Bay Pond.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 400.  1/500th @ f4.


The Black and White Warblers were in full swing!  I'm assuming it is mating season from the aerial acrobatics these little guys and gals were doing.  Once an individual settled down for 10 seconds or so I was able to get some great singing images.



Singing Black and White Warbler.  Bonne Bay Pond.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 640.  1/250th @ f4.

Stomachs filled with BBQ hamburgers we ventured west to Gros Morne hoping for some moose sightings, and with hopes of a great seaside sunset.  OK, I'll come clean.  We are coffee buffs and love stopping into Java Jacks in Rocky Harbour for some really great coffee!

With a fresh mug of joe and neither moose sighting at this point we were on our way to Baker's Brook beach for a look to see if the shorebirds have yet to make it this far north.

A piercing call gives away the position of a Greater Yellowlegs!  Having only gotten really close to one in my lifetime I was pretty happy to get within good reach of a nice habitat image without using a teleconverter on my telephoto lens.



Calling Greater Yellowlegs.  Bakers Brook.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 720.  1/250th @ f4.

Looking out over the many stones that line the shore at low tide I could just make out the shape of a very small Sandpiper.  This little ball of fluff was a Least Sandpiper, the smallest of any shorebird in the world.  How amazing that this little ball of fluff can fly nonstop for over 3000 kms over the Atlantic Ocean on it's southward migration!  To give you an idea of just how minuscule they are you can see this specific bird outlined in red in the image below.  Remember to click the image to view larger!


 Stalking Least Sandpiper at Bakers Brook Shoreline. Gros Morne National Park.
Image by Leanne Rose.



Least Sandpiper on Stone.  Bakers Brook Shoreline.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR with Nikkor 1.4X Teleconverter.  ISO 400.  1/640th @ f5.6.

I've read that after migration some birds are very approachable, the reasons are that they are extremely tired and hungry and literally don't waste any more energy unless they really have to.  This little one must have been in that category as I was able to make a slow and gentle approach, observant of any signs of stress from the bird.  Fortunately, it didn't seemed bothered with my presence as it continued to forage quite close to me for food.



Least Sandpiper Foraging for Food.  Bakers Brook Shoreline.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR with Nikkor 1.4X Teleconverter.  ISO 400.  1/640th @ f5.6.


We continued north up the highway towards the town of St. Paul's.  Right after leaving Baker's Brook we briefly saw a male Northern Harrier gliding for prey along the highway edge!  We followed it up a small side road only to loose sight over some tree tops and decided to pursue.  Unfortunately, during our short drive inland there wasn't any sign of him.

However, perched on a fir tree top in late evening light was a Flycatcher!  Sometimes with photography you have to roll with the blows and work the hand that is dealt to you; find the 'sliver lining in the dark cloud' so to speak.  Instead of hopelessly looking for the Harrier I decided to pursue this Flycatcher.



Olive-Sided Flycatcher.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR with Nikkor 1.4X Teleconverter.  ISO 400.  1/800th @ f7.1.

Just up ahead on the little side road we were following was a small brownish bird foraging the road for food, bounding from one side to the other.  Looking through my 500mm lens I could see a Swainson's Thrush!


Foraging Swainson's Thrush.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR with Nikkor 1.4X Teleconverter.  ISO 400.  1/800th @ f5.6.

Whatever happened to those moose we were after?  They were just up the highway a mile or two from the flycatcher, munching on some fir trees and grass about 50 feet off the side of the road.  I was hoping that I could get a portrait of both with the moose lined up pleasingly and without shadowing each other.  What were the chances they would position themselves right where I wanted them?

Pretty damn good!



Moose Pair in Golden Light.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 400.  1/500th @ f4.

Thinking this was the perfect ending to a great day, we were ready to turn around and start the 45 minute drive back to Bonne Bay Pond.  Just north of us was the Western Brook Beach parking lot where we decided to turn around and start heading south towards home.  We made it to within 500 feet of the parking lot when I noticed a caribou on the open barrens off to my right!

One more time I mounted the big lens on the tripod and jumped out of the truck into the wind and freezing cold air.  By placing a lone fir tree between the caribou and my position I was able to conceal my advance.  Out to the edge of the barren I lifted my setup and peered through the viewfinder.

My heart almost skipped a beat!  There on the pastel colored bog, only a hundred yards away, still lit with golden light stood the caribou and a newborn calf!



Caribou and Newborn.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR with Nikkor 1.4X Teleconverter.  ISO 500.  1/250th @ f6.3.


How could this day possibly get any better?

Let me tell you how!

As the sun approached to horizon I watched shutter speeds drop fast as the light turned from a golden hue to almost pink.  At this point I was shaking from a combination of the quickly dropping temperature, wind blowing off the Atlantic, and also from all the adrenaline pumping through my body!  I desperately tried to stabilize the big lens from the wind and my constant shaking but after a few shots I had no choice but to remove the teleconverter to gain back some necessary shutter speed so the images wouldn't be blurred.  By doing so I was able to double the shutter speed, but lost precious magnification. As if on cue the mother caribou walked straight towards me with the calf close behind!  Both creatures, bathed in the some of the best light I've ever witnessed moved to within 75 feet of my position and posed for me for at least a full minute as the sun set behind the horizon!  What a climax!



Caribou and Newborn Posing in Last Light.  Gros Morne National Park.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 400.  1/400th @ f4.


Does it get any better than this for a photographer who loves to shoot wildlife?

I would love to find out!

PS...We did turn around at Western Brook Beach parking lot and just on the other side of the bridge were 2 of the 12 moose we saw on the return drive home!


Thanks again for taking the time!



All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale in digital format and in print.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email or by the phone number listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic and post processing instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in Canada.

Visit me on facebook at RONiN photography.

I also have a ton of images on Flickr.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca. 









6 comments:

  1. Wow what a great day! Nice shooting as always Scott.

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  2. Great set of pics. Enjoyed reading about the day too. Thanks

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  3. Thank you for taking the time Luke!

    All the best!

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  4. Amazing picture of the caribou and her calf, Scott! How did you ever get them both to look in the same direction? Sometimes everything does come together and the result is magical!!

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  5. Thanks Iceberg!

    i had a massive golden horseshoe up my you know what all day i guess!

    all the best!

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