Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wildlife Practice

2 Shags

Having hung out at the Gasworks for a while, I thought it was time I moved onto something new, and since there's a wildlife photography comp coming up, I thought I'd go to a few local spots for a recce this weekend. The first was a sneak-peek at the newly established Orokonui eco-sanctuary near Waitati. It has a state-of-the-art predator fence, and they've introduced saddleback, kaka, tuatara and jeweled gecko there. A visitor's centre is under construction and it really is going to be an asset to the region. It's set to open some time this Spring but just like Karori and Tiritiri Matangi, it'll be a few years before it's really pumping with wildife. We saw some bellbirds at feeding stations along with a few other passerines like grey warblers and I did manage to get a couple of decent shots of tomtits with a borrowed 100-400 L-series Canon lens. I used it to snap some shags on my way home, at the Sea Scout den by the Andersons Bay causeway.

Tomtit 2

Unless you've got time to sit and get really good behaviour, its easy to come away with rather ordinary animal portraits, which is all I really got from this trip. No, wait, I did come away with a bit of gear envy too! (Thanks Mike)

I'm keen to go back to Orokonui. With time I may be lucky enough to see the saddlebacks or kaka. What I'd also like to try is take my flash gear and light the birds at feeders, to get a really rich look. Same with the tree bark and some of the ferns. The more pictures I take, the more important the quality of light is becoming to me.

Penguin Crossing Snooze

This morning I took Ali and Georgia to Sanfly Bay to play in the giant dunes and see if I could get some sealion shots. I decided not to take my Canon gear lest I completely obsess over shooting and neglect the girls. Instead, I took my 5.1 Mp Fuji ultrazoom. The shot of yellow-eyed penguin tracks I got was interesting, but I'm not in love with the fur seal and sea lion shots I got. They haul out on the beaches to sleep, so the most action you're going to get from them is a yawn. Again, I'd really like to come when the light is best, or bring some flashes and do something different with these critters.

Sealion Profile 2 Fur Seals

Using flash on wild and endangered animals does raise some ethical questions. In cases like these I think we all have to ask ourselves how much we're disturbing them and how sensitive they are to that disturbance. Every situation has to be judged on its merits. If I was dealing with the yellow-eyed penguins, I'd be pretty careful to stay out of sight and use available light only, but I think snoozing seals and sea lions can handle me getting within a several metres in plain sight and even a few bright flashes. I'm definitely going to give it a try. I want to lift my game when it comes to wildlife.

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