Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Wildlife Shot From An Unlikely Camera and Lens - Leica M9 and Canon LTM 135mm f3.5

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Canon LTM 135mm f3.5 Lens
iso 320, f4.8, 1/180 sec.
I took this shot last week in Maui. I was driving to a likely beach for my sunrise walk when I saw this guy in a pool of water next to the road. I pulled over, put the longest lens I had on my M9, which was the 135mm Canon, and started slowly approaching. He flew off, but then later returned. Waiting long enough made him less sensitive to my presence. Patience paid off, and he finally approached me this time, staying long enough for me to get a few shots.
Using a rangefinder and relatively short telephoto lens is not the proven method of shooting birds. It worked here.
I didn't really appreciate this shot until I took a longer look on a big monitor. I decided to print it at 13"x19", and that's when it really came to life for me. In addition to the awesome detail rendered in the bird's eye and feathers, the circular ripples in the water surface (rain? I don't remember) are an important element. Finally, the bird's reflection in the water surface is another nice secondary element. Overall, I'm quite pleased with this shot.
For me the bottom line is that different gear leads to different images. For example, if I shot this with a longer telephoto lens on an SLR, I'd probably miss the water ripples altogether, and using a wider aperture would prevent me from getting both the eye and feathers in sharp detail. So, I'm glad my choice of equipment challenged me to get what I did, perhaps even better than a more traditional birding rig would have allowed. Or maybe next time that I do have a longer lens, I'll be sure to include more of the surroundings, and get more depth of field. Either way, I'm learning about alternative compositions and elements.