Lesson Learned – Beyond the Viewfinder

/, Antelope Island State Park, Chukars, Davis County, Utah, Western Meadowlarks/Lesson Learned – Beyond the Viewfinder

Western Meadowlark on a boulderWestern Meadowlark on a boulder – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday I was focused on photographing this Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) that was perched on a boulder with the Great Salt Lake below it in the background. I had nice light, a lovely setting plus the bird seemed more interested in singing than my presence.

Western Meadowlarks are beautiful songsters and their call is one that makes me think of cool spring mornings and how much I enjoy my early morning  journeys into the natural world. They are handsome birds too.

As I focused this bird I noticed some movement at the bottom of my viewfinder, there was a large tan, out of focus blob that appeared to be moving towards the Meadowlark. It was a little confusing at first until I moved the viewfinder away from my eyes a bit and saw a Chukar (Alectoris chukar) moving up towards the same boulder the Meadowlark was singing from.

Chukar climbing down a boulder IChukar climbing down a boulder I – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light

The Chukar was so close that I had to very quickly back up my zoom to fit the whole bird in. It was about the same moment the Chukar noticed our presence and it started moving down the boulder towards the grasses instead of making the climb to the top.

Chukar climbing down a boulder IIChukar climbing down a boulder II – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light

I didn’t have time to change my exposure compensation which had been set for the Meadowlark perched with the blue of the Great Salt Lake behind it and I knew that these images might be slightly over exposed. Fortunately I was able to reduce the exposure in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) easily.

I could tell I loved the background through my viewfinder, the large boulder was far enough away that I didn’t need to worry about it being in focus but it still showed the lovely colors and textures of the rock.

Chukar climbing down a boulder IIIChukar climbing down a boulder III – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light

The Chukar didn’t seem to be in a great hurry so I was able to get a series of images as it carefully made its way down the boulder. I liked that I could see the red legs, spurs and dark toenails in this frame.

Chukar climbing down a boulder IVChukar climbing down a boulder IV – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light

As the bird moved closer to the ground I noticed how fresh it plumage was and the beautiful but subtle coloration along the back and wings.

Chukar climbing down a boulder VChukar climbing down a boulder V – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light

Had I not seen that moving, tan blob beyond my viewfinder I could have easily missed being able to create these Chukar images. Sure, I have hundreds (if not thousands) of Chukar images but I am always looking for different poses, light conditions and settings to photograph my subjects in and this worked out very well.

Lesson Learned… Look beyond the viewfinder at times!

Mia

22 Comments

  1. Scott Simmons April 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Wow. Great photos! Just the other day I was photographing an Osprey with fish in flight. He was calling an awful lot. When I put down my camera I found out why. He had a Bald Eagle in hot pursuit. Sadly I missed the “exchange.” The eagle stole the fish behind the tree line.

    • Mia McPherson April 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Scott, I’ve missed that same exchange between an Osprey and a Bald Eagle. Frustrating! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Julie Brown April 3, 2012 at 4:53 am

    The meadowlark is perfect! A nicely executed series of the chukar as well.

    • Mia McPherson April 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      Julie, thanks. Nature is amazing.

  3. Mathew April 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

    In Utah, you have the fortune of avoiding the problems of identifying meadowlarks, as the Western is the only ‘Sturnella’ where you are. Not only is the song impressive, it is also important for identification.

    • Mia McPherson April 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      I am very fortunate to avoid the issues of identifying that the Meadowlarks I see are Westerns and their song is rather lovely and quite different from the Easterns. Thanks for commenting Mathew.

  4. Earl March 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Great shots color and sharpness spot on.

    • Mia McPherson April 1, 2012 at 6:03 am

      Thank you Earl, Chukars make excellent subjects and the boulder behind the bird was great.

  5. Tammy Karr March 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Excellent series of photos! Great to see the Chukar in action! The boulder makes a beautiful background. The Meadowlark is stunning as well!

    • Mia McPherson April 1, 2012 at 6:02 am

      Thanks so much for your kind comment Tammy!

  6. Laurence Butler March 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Very beautiful, glad you caught it in time! What a treat to have two lovely birds like that so close!

    • Mia McPherson March 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Laurence, I was glad I caught the Chukar in time too.

  7. Julie G. March 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    These are stunning images, Mia! Your outstanding photographs show off the lovely Chukar plumage beautifully. A very special treat to have such a sighting.

    • Mia McPherson March 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Julie, I felt it was a treat to have this setting for these images too. Utah boulders Rock!

  8. Chuck Gangas March 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Very nice series on these gorgeous birds Mia- love the fresh plumage and the iridescent coloring of the wings.

    • Mia McPherson March 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you Chuck, you need to visit us at this time of the year, you might even get a chance to photograph the males going at each other over their hens.

  9. Sheila Atwood March 31, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Good for you! The Chuckar is fabulous. I have never seen one. But the Meadowlark is a common visitor and like you said a they do have a beautiful song.

  10. Linda Rockwell March 31, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Love the Chukar images and the meadowlark too. Nice photographer flexibility in this set!

    • Mia McPherson March 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Linda, thank you. I was very pleased with the Chukar images because of the setting, the same with the Meadowlark.

  11. Carol Mattingly March 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I love these images. The boulder is beautiful surrounding the Chukar. I wished I could see one of these birds in real life. That first image of the Meadowlark is beautiful. Carol

    • Mia McPherson March 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Carol, if you ever get to Utah Antelope Island is always wonderful for seeing Chukars in the wild. Thank you very much for your comments on my images. I love that boulder in the background too.

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