Tay Valley Township, Ontario, Canada
Camera Body: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR
Support: Gitzo 3 Series
Shutter Speed: 1/1000 s
Focal Length: 600mm
My day starts before the sunrises, my tripod is strapped to my bicycle and my camera with 600mm lens and camo wrap are on my back. I peddle for 4.5 km to reach my destination, stash my bike and hike for another .25 km. Now picture a pond with a dead tree 30 feet from shore and a top that tree is a large nest. You are standing on a rocky escarpment that places you at eye level with you and your gear draped with a camo wrap so you blend in with the surroundings. The adults are no where to be seen but you can see the young herons in the nest.
The adults are out gathering food and when they return to the nest what unfolds is truly a scene from Jurassic Park. The sound these chicks make is loud and prehistoric in nature and they compete fiercely for food as is evidenced by this photo. The adult regurgitates here food in to their mouths so it is first come, first served. The almost deafening sound continues until the adult leaves the nest then everything calms done once more.
Making the Shot:
The adults are very reluctant to return to the nest when people are detected and I do not wish to disturb their feeding patterns hence the need for an early arrival and camo cover. I prefer to shoot this scene with a long lens to fill the frame and capture all of detail. I set the aperture to F/9 to make sure all of the chicks would be in focus and bumped the ISO to 640 which rendered a shutter speed of 1/1000s, not required for this static scene but was for capturing the approaching flight shots.
As I reflect on moments like these, it reminds me how blessed I am to be afforded the opportunity to experience such events that so few get to experience. It is because of this that I also started shooting video. Static shots are great but there is nothing quite like video to bring a scene to life.
It’s always hard for me to switch over to video as I figure I will be missing that once in a lifetime image so I have started setting up video on body and letting it run while shooting statics with a second body. With mirrorless cameras that annoying shutter sound in the video will be a thing of the past. The Jurassic Heron Chicks video can be found under the video section.