Nature & Wildlife

 - Parc des Rapides - 2019-04-14
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Parc des Rapides

Birds in Action

It looks that I found my most preferred subject in photography. I like macro photography, revealing details I cannot see with the naked eye, I like landscape with wild cloud formations, I like collecting photos of as many different species as possible, but, I love taking photos of animals in action!

Last changed on 2024-06-27

The Gang of Three - Mallard Chicks

Parc Île-de-la-Visitation - Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Luckily having been able to watch a Mallard female with three ducklings at the small pond in Park Bernard-Landry, Laval. Locking my viewfinder of the front sibling and taking the snapshot. Although I name the photo “The Gang of Three”, obviously these three little ducks are not scary at all but cute little fellows exploring the surroundings under the watchful eyes of their mom.

Video Recordings

I also recorded a few clips of these ducklings and published one of them on YouTube. Unfortunately, the camera wasn’t horizontal to the ground, handheld while sitting on the ground. I was very angry and updated my rules page to keep it as a reminder: Keep the Camera Straight

Later I learned how to rotate a clip in DaVinci Resolve which allows to fix in post-production a camera hold at an angle. Here the videos:


Wondering about two other observations I made? First there was a battle with another female Mallard which was won by the mother of the ducklings and ended by chasing off the other female. Why would a female Mallard attack another one?

Then a confused drake, Mallard too, battled with the female. I had the impression that the intention was to submit and mate. He may have been bursting with testosterone to explain why he didn’t realize that this female is raising ducklings and not available.

Restlessness in the Nursery - Canada Goose Chick

Parc Île-de-la-Visitation - Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

I learned that it makes no sense recording handheld a video with the Nikon Z6. With this thought in mind, I figured out how I can take the tripod and video camera head with me on my bike. On my next excursion, the first thing I was able to achieve is to record a 30 sec clip of Canada Goose chicks, handheld!

How did I achieve it? To keep the camera stable, I use the Nikon Z6 with the 300mm Prime f4 lens, I sit on the ground placing the camera in front of me on the crossed legs and flip up the screen to compose the shot. In this position, I am able to stabilize the camera while still having some flexibility following the subject.

Restlessness in the Nursery [YouTube, 0:35]

Later, I continued recording using the tripod which I brought with me that day but I found it amusing that in spite of all my previously failed attempts and my firm conclusion to stop trying handheld, with the first next opportunity, I got some decent recordings handhold.

Anyway. I also learned to check the battery on my Rode NTG-2 microphone before leaving the house. I prefer the Rode NTG-2 over the internal microphone due to the possibility to capture the directional sound from the subject. When I am not sure if recording is working, I use to speak to the microphone during a short recording and then listen in the re-play with the headphones.

Dance in the Air - Chickadee with House Finch

Parc Mont-Royal - House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

As Christmas 2018 project planned, I visited the nearby Park Mont-Royal on several occasions between Christmas and New Year with the intend to take photos of flying small birds like Chickadees, Nuthatches or House Finches.

It worked out pretty well. I have been struggling with low light though. On all my visits, the sun has been covered by clouds providing better lights only on rare moments. The setup and workflow didn't allow me to use flash.

I placed my camera mounted with the 300mm prime lense on a tripod about 10 meters away from the feeder. I observed the birds to understand their preferred flight paths to and from the feeder and focused on that area. Then I waited until I saw a bird intending to get to the feeder to start taking burst of shots at Nikon D500 fastest speed. With this approach, I ended up with thousands of shots, most of them with no birds or with partial birds out of focus.

Nevertheless, some shots have been acceptable and among all the shots with birds in focus, a few even showed two birds in action. If I learned something from this project, it is that don't rely on anything told on YouTube nature photography channels. They have been claiming to start at 1/1250s shutter speed for birds in flight which I learned already before this project is too slow.

My shots which show sharp images have been taken at 1/3200s, 1/4000s and 1/5000s. Having enough light at these shutter speeds is very important. I will return to this project in February or early March. Then, I should have more light available.