Nature Photography: It’s Not the Size of the Bird, It’s All In the Zoom!

Golden Gate Park Stow Lake, great blue heron in flight

It’s not the size of the bird, it’s the speed of the zoom!

The Great Blue Heron is an incredible looking bird from a distance. Up close, they are even more spectacular- especially while in flight.

I ordinarily wouldn’t use a photo for a post where I failed to capture the entire bird, but in this case I thought the reasoning sound enough to proceed.

As much as I consider myself a nature enthusiast/photographer, my buddy David has me beat by a mile. He is both a great photographer (of ALL subjects) and seriously knowledgeable on all facets of camera mythos.

On this day in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, David loaned me his Nikon 200-500 mm zoom to try out on the local wildlife. It’s a HUGE lens, which means it’s also a HEAVY lens. Me being me, I still wanted to give it a go and see if I could get a few decent shots.

Did I mention it’s a huge and heavy lens… at the same time? Yes, I did. It’s also a fantastically sharp and exact lens. I now understand, after wielding this monster barrel around for several hours, why lots of photographers use tripods with them. It’s that heavy and huge thing again… The tripod not only helps with weight distribution, it help to keep the lens from shaking so you’ll have a much better possibility of a shake-free shot.

As for the above shot of the great blue heron, he literally flew right at me from across the lake, barely giving me time to aim or get him in focus. I decided to use this shot as a reminder for the next time I use or perhaps one of you use (for the first or any time) a lens of this size.

As David explained to me at the time, opening a lens of this size up at the ‘wide’ (200 mm) end allows you to track a bird of this size in flight. As he/she moves closer, you can start to zoom in, hopefully keeping the entire bird in your sights and in the picture. I admit, I was so amazed at the zoom capability, by the time I realized the bird was getting close-r, it was too late to get him/her wing-to-wing.

Needless to say, by the end of the day my arm/shoulder was feeling the love. David got a few good laughs at me, (I deserved it!) but I’m grateful he let me use the lens AND I actually got a few FULL BIRD shots by the end of the day.

There will be more zoomed birds in the near future!

K’lee L. © 2016



6 thoughts on “Nature Photography: It’s Not the Size of the Bird, It’s All In the Zoom!

    1. I sometimes tend to be the type of photographer who gasps first, and shoots second when I witness something as majestic, elegant, and otherworldly as these birds in flight. I could watch them all day. Glad you liked the shot!

      Liked by 1 person

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