This weekend I had a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Raptorfest 2016 event in Grimsby, Ontario.
Having attended Raptorfest events in the past I knew what to expect from a photography standpoint – difficult lighting in a local hockey arena with crowds of people further complicating things.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The image above, and the following one, are representative of the typical images that one captures during this event.
As you can see it can be a challenge to eliminate people or recognizable elements of the hockey arena in photographs. Since I sold my Nikon D800 and all of my FX glass last year I didn’t have the option to use the D800’s low light capability, or use a fast lens like a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G with my FT-1 adapter on my Nikon 1 V2. And, I knew from past experience that my 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 would not give me the reach I’d need to shoot at the event.
So, I decided to shoot at a maximum of ISO-3200 and use my trusty 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom with the hope that I could get some usable images even though I would likely have to use some fairly slow shutter speeds.
At ISO-3200 I knew that I would be pushing the small 1″ CX sensor in my Nikon 1 V2, even with the use of the PRIME noise reduction function in OpticsPro 10 Elite. So, my visit was not about capturing any marketable images, but simply to have a bit of fun.
This meant not only concentrating on my hand-holding technique, but also watching my subjects and timing my images to take advantage of when the birds and other animals were somewhat still.
The diminutive Saw Whet Owl was reasonably cooperative and I was able to capture a number of usable images of it. I spent some time formulating my photographs in my mind, trying to approach the subjects from angles that would allow me to choose backgrounds that would (hopefully) not identify the location as a local hockey arena.
The folks from Bird Kingdom had a small display with a couple of birds on perches. By using the hockey boards and some greenery in the next display area as my backgrounds, I was able to get some reasonable images.
The Canadian Raptor Conservancy put on a few presentations during the day with some good crowds in attendance. Since the presenter was moving pretty constantly during her raptor presentations it was quite difficult to capture any images, especially given the slower shutter speeds I was using.
Timing and patience did pay off with a few decent captures at slower shutter speeds as you can see above.
As was the case in previous years at Raptorfest there were also a few reptile specimens on display. I grabbed a few images while their handlers were carrying them.
When shooting in these kinds of circumstances I always prefer to use tight framing on my images to help focus a viewer’s eye as well as eliminate distracting backgrounds.
Framing images tightly also creates an air of intimacy with the subject.
To achieve the background angles I wanted in my images I ended up shooting with my 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 fully extended for many of my photographs.
One of the more challenging subjects was a tame, young Bob Cat. It was wearing a bright green collar and leash which does not really communicate a ‘wild cat’ message.
It was also pretty active so I decided to use extremely tight framing to focus in on just the face of the Bob Cat, thus eliminating the bright green collar and leash.
After shooting still images for about an hour and a half I decided to switch things up and also captured some hand-held video. Unfortunately I did not bring a monopod with me as I didn’t originally plan to shoot any video. I used ‘active’ vibration control to try to reduce camera shake as best I could as I was shooting with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 fully extended to 300 mm most of the time.
It was an enjoyable couple of hours spent at Raptorfest 2016 capturing some practice images and a few video clips.
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