This weekend was one of those heavily overcast days here in Western Pennsylvania. Dark days like that make it very difficult to photograph wildlife because they are most active in the morning hours and then again in the evening when the sun is not on our side. Yea, we can use a slower shutter speed and hope the subject stands still. Or, we can increase the ISO (sensitivity) in our camera to make the camera able to record details using less light. Nothing is free though! The more you turn up the sensitivity, the more you degrade the image with "noise". Digital noise is random speckles on an otherwise smooth surface resembling film grain (to all you former film users).
Despite the dreary days this past week I managed to make some images of waterfowl returning to our lakes along with some other wildlife that have been here all along.
This deer was photographed at 7:31 PM on a day the official sunset was 7:22.
White-tailed Deer (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, f/2.8 @ 300mm, 1/30, ISO 3200)
Visiting the lake shore in March has some advantages. One advantage I have is the ice is receding from the shoreline towards the middle keeping the waterfowl closer to shore than usual. Since I don't have a boat, I am restricted to the shore and my lenses. Darkness and distance puts a photographer at a disadvantage.
There was a small group of Bufflehead ducks diving for food. When they thought I was getting too close, they would fly away. Apparently, the food outweighed the danger because they kept coming back.
Bufflehead Duck (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/4000, ISO 800)
The Common Goldeneye is listed as a winter resident but I've only seen them in the fall and spring.
Common Goldeneye (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/800, ISO 800)
At times the Buffleheads and Common Goldeneye would cross paths.
Bufflehead & Common Goldeneye (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/600, ISO 800)
The American Robin is the unofficial sign of spring around here but I think the Red-winged Blackbird should share that title. The male Red-winged Blackbird returns in mid-March about two weeks before the females. They stake out their territory through song and visual displays.
Red-winged Blackbird (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, f/2.8 @ 300mm, 1/4000, ISO 800)
The sound of a Red-winged Blackbird is sure to lesson your winter blues. Click on the "play" pointer in the center to begin the video.
Red-winged Blackbird (Video: Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L)
I was lucky enough to find a pair of Eastern Bluebirds hopping around the trees looking for insects.
Eastern Bluebird (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/1000, ISO 800)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Canon EOS 40D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, f/3.5 @ 300mm, 1/1000, ISO 200)