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photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Making the mundane interesting

in Olympus E-System , Thursday, January 13, 2005

In the last couple of days I've shot around 280 photos of common (mallard) ducks and associated waterbirds. These are not what you'd call challenging wildlife, simply pretty placid birds on a tranquil lake - say one step up from a park, but not a very big step. However, it occurred to me that perhaps it would actually be a challenge to see if I could take some interesting photos of ducks, and at the same time practice and hopefully improve my wildlife photography skills. The lake is Lake Lugano, and recently I have had about 30 minutes to spare on the lakeside every day between 1pm and 1:30. So the sun is up, and bright, which adds to the fun. Apart from ducks, which are actually show very interesting behaviour if you watch them for a while, there are coots - VERY challenging photographically, being coal black and snow white, and what I think are Great Crested Grebes, which are attractive and fun to watch, although a bit more skittish and elusive than the others. There are also lots of swans and gulls, neither of which interest me much at the moment. I've been using the 50-200mm lens. Initially I used it without the extended grip, but now I've added that, and taken off the collar to save weight - all this is handheld. Having time to take time to work with it, I've been much happier with the auto focus, particularly in C-mode. I'd still like wider focus points, but I'm getting on much better with it. Here is a photo of a Coot - in bright sunlight, it is impossible to capture detail in both the bird's beak and all the body. Exposure is a bit of a guessing game. After some experimenting, I settled on using centre-weighted metering, with a few 1/3 steps of negative compensation, metering on the head (including some of the white area). This seems to work ok - although I'm sure there are other approaches. ESP metering doesn't really work in such a case - the highlights are totally blown. LagoLugano_050114_52_001.jpg Next time out I'll add the 1.4x converter. But what I'm really after is, as I said at the beginning, some really different photos of a common subject - ducks.