Are you “karma challenged” when it comes to nature photography? I, for one, excel at waiting patiently for “the moment”, only to have “the moment” happen when I go to add a teleconverter or, perhaps, just sneeze. I think I’ve discovered a “karma compensator” in these new combination cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark 2.
Betsy and I decided to stop at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (aka “Plum Island”) on our way up to see Sarah Vowell in Maine. Plum Island is a great birding location (when I’m not there) and the main attraction this time of year are the snowy owls that both inhabit the area and some that have been relocated to the refuge from Logan Airport.
The chances of seeing a “snowy” are pretty low and we’re always thrilled just to catch sight of one. The last time I tried this and had one in my viewfinder it was, let’s just say it was “extremely well backlit”.
After a few runs up and down the road that runs through the refuge and checking out the shoreline the best sight was that of a harrier (marsh hawk) doing what harriers do best: fly away from me. We were on our way out of the refuge and noticed a couple of people slowing down. Sure enough there was a beautiful Snowy Owl, well lit, sitting in some trees. I quickly set up the tripod and camera and fired off a few shots while chatting with a refuge officer who was asking if I could see signs of a transmitter. (Using the 5x and 10x Live View it was pretty easy to determine it did not.)
After a few minutes of watching and waiting, I decided to put a 1.4x teleconverter on the bird. While fumbling to get that the bird took off and flew right over my wife who was down the road a few yards seeing if there was a better angle for me to shoot from. (So I suppose I should just learn to follow her, right?)
I don’t curse at these situations – the fight was knocked out of me years ago. But it occurred to me that from now on if I’m about to take my finger off the trigger for any length of time, I will reframe the shot for HD and start shooting video. If nothing happens, I can delete it and I lose nothing. If I had done this while hunting for the teleconverter, I would at least have a nicely lit Snowy Owl taking off. Oh, let’s face it – if I was doing that he would wait till I was attaching the teleconverter… but it’s nice to dream.