Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pirmasenser Fototage 2009

This I had the chance to show some of my work at the Pirmasenser Fototage in Germany togehter with some other wildlife photographers. In the city of Pirmasens images of several photographers from all kind of genres are displayed at different locations throughout the city.
The nature images are displayed at the Dynamikum in Pirmasens and can still be seen there until the 20th of June.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to go to there myself, as it is quite far away from Amsterdam. However I received some images of the exhibiton from friends who visited it and photographers who also showed some of their work there.

Here are some impressions of the exhibiton at the Dynamikum:

Thanks to Thomas Block for letting me show the images here.

If you have time thsi weekend and live close to Pirmasens than I would recommend you to see the images. Note that also the images of last year's European Wildlife Photographer of the Year are shown at the Dynamikum. I have seen these images last year in L√ľnen at the International Naturfotofestival of the GDT and the images are stunning!

Sebastian Erras
Wildlife Photography - Sebastian Erras
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marsh Harriers

Now the second part of my long weekend. At the Arkemheen Polder I was not only able to photograph Black-tailed Godwits, but also a pair of Marsh Harriers. In late April I visited this spot for the first time to photograph the pair of Marsh Harriers. Back then they were busy getting nesting material. This weekend I photographed them with prey and even with nesting material, which I found a little strange. I expected that the chicks already had hatched and the reason why the parents were bringing food their chicks is to feed them. So I'm not really sure why the Marsh Harriers both the female and the male brought small branches to their site.

In situations like this, where you want to get flight shots and images of landing birds, the direction of the wind is a very important aspect. The key here is, that birds will always land against the wind. So if you wanna photograph landing birds make sure that you position yourself with the wind coming from your back. Then the birds will land towards you and you will get nice flight shots with the birds facing to you. Sidewinds can also be nice. Then the bird will land sidewards. However the worst conditions for flight photography is headwind. With headwind the bird will always land facing away from you and the only thing you will get see is its back and that is propably not your main target.
So before I go out to shot birds in flight I always check the wind conditions at the location I want to photograph. On the internet you will find numerous websites where you retrive information about wind conditions.

Then there is the other thing when photographing birds in flight: light. Wind and the light direction might not always be the same. The perfect conditions are when you have the light and the wind coming from your back. If that is not the case then you have to pick one. Either you prefer to have bird in perfect light but with not so good wind conditions or the other way round.
This can be a though decisions sometimes. I had this situation the last 2 days when photographing the Marsh Harriers. Wind came from the north-east and evenign late came from north-west. As you can see on the images above I chose the the better wind conditon over the light. My goal was to get the Harriers with fully spread wings right before they landed and that's the reason I chose for the better wind condition.

Photographing nesting birds can be very critical, as being close to the nesting area can cause disturbance and may abort the offspring. Therefor photographers should be very carefully when considering photographing nesting birds. The location the Marsh Harriers chose to nest is located near a street and very frequented cycling path. This allows photographers to photograh from the car and minimize disturbance.

Sebastian Erras
Wildlife Photography - Sebastian Erras
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Black-tailed Godwits

The weather is very nice again here in the Netherlands and with the long weekend I had to go and shot some picture. As it turned out it has been a little more than "some" in the last 2 days I shot about 2000 pictures and a lot of them were taken of Black-tailed Godwits.
Photographing Black-tailed Godwits here in the Netherlands is not such a difficult task. The Netherlands are the msot important country in Europe for Black-tailed Godwits. The major european population is located in the Netherlands. They can easily be found all around the polders within the Netherlands. They can be very noisy so it is quite is to find them and they have the habit to rest on poles, which it makes it easy for the photographer to capture an image. So I went to the Arkemheen Polder this weekend to photograph these birds. After arriving at the destination it didn't take more than a minute and the black-tailed Godwits were already ready for the shooting.

The birds were very tame and I could approach them easily with my car. This was since a long time that I was able to use nealry my whole euipment available. I used my new 50/1.8 lens to get some more environmental shots and also my 100-300/4 which I haven't really used lately. I even used my Sigma 500/4.5 EX HSM with the 1.4x and the 1.7x converter attached at the same time to get some special portraits. The light was beautiful the last days and I had a lot of fun with the Godwits.

There was one image which I wanted to take really badly of this bird. I got inspired by Miguel Lasa's backlight shot of a polar bear and I wanted to try something similiar with the Godwits, but my first attempt failed. The Godwits where there, the light was perfect for this kind of backlight shot, but the Godwits were sitting all the time on the wronf side of the road, in beautiful evening light. So I tried it again this morning, but this time with the sun rising and hopefully the Godwits sitting on the right side. I got up really early to be there before the sun rises and find a good spot with a Godwit. I found it :-) not the perfect spot but very good one.
The Godwit was als overy cooperative and I was able to get some really nice backlight portraits.

I wasn't able to get the shot I wanted due to a metal pole right next to the Godwits head, but I think I made the best out of this situation. For those shots I used the Simga 500/4.5 EX HSM with a Kenko 1.4x and Soligor 1.7x converter on a beanbag from my car. Autofocus still works with this combination, but in this situtation it was better to manually focus the lens.

I was also able to get some nice shot of Marsh Harriers and I hope to get some more this evening. I will show some of those images later.

Sebastian Erras
Wildlife Photography - Sebastian Erras

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