Springtime Raven – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Yesterday I was lucky enough to find this Common Raven perched in front of a field of pink Filaree, a wildflower from the Geranium family. They won’t be in bloom too much longer so I am trying to get images of my subjects with the Filaree in the frames.
Snow storm approaching Antelope Island – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light
Last Sunday I photographed and posted a Prairie Falcon with a Northern Shoveler as prey and the next day I posted a Loggerhead Shrike taken on the same day, today I wanted to share images that were taken before the falcon and shrike. I mentioned that there had been low light, falling snow and that the weather conditions before photographing the Loggerhead Shrike and Prairie Falcon weren’t great.
This image was taken eleven minutes before the Loggerhead Shrike photo and about an hour before the first image of the Prairie Falcon was taken. There was a squall line coming in dumping snow on the Great Salt Lake that was heading northeast, in that tiny path of blue on the right side near the slope of Buffalo Point some distant mountains can be seen. Pretty ominous looking scenery.
Common Ravens in a storm – Nikon D300, f8, 1/400, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Within the same minute that I took the image above I created this image of two Common Ravens with the storm cloud behind them.
Not the best weather conditions for photography but it can create very moody images.
There weren’t many birds present at the San Rafael Swell Recreation Site in central Utah this past week, the San Rafael River seemed lower than I have seen it and there was evidence of drought conditions, mainly in the vegetation there. The greasewoods looked yellow instead of the vibrant green I remember from the past two years, plants that are normally flowering weren’t and many of those plants appeared stunted.
Juvenile Common Raven back view – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 322mm, natural light, not baited
It wasn’t a complete wash though because I did come back with some juvenile Common Raven (Corvus corax) images that I like. There was a family of ravens making a racket in and near the campsite which was right next to the two bridges over the San Rafael River, at one point I counted at least six birds, there may have been more.
The Swinging Bridge is no longer used for vehicle traffic but it is safe for foot traffic. It was built in 1938 and was the only bridge at the site until the early 1990′s.
Calling juvenile Common Raven – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited
One of the juvenile Ravens perched on a fence near the Swinging Bridge, the light was challenging because it was filtered through the leaves of old Cottonwood trees creating dappled light on the fence and bird while the background of greasewood and Navajo sandstone was in full sun. Surprisingly I did not need to use any exposure compensation with this image or the following one to get nice detail in the dark plumage without blowing out the background.
Common Raven juvenile by the San Rafael River – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light, not baited
This bird is easily identifiable as a juvenile Common Raven because of the short tail, the pink on the gape and the violet-blue eyes. I have images of Black-billed Magpie juveniles; also Corvids, with similarly colored eyes here. I’m not sure if other Corvid juveniles exhibit the same trait.
Will wonders never cease? The weather forecasters; who are usually way off on their predictions, were right yesterday. They called for partly cloudy weather and that is what happened. Of course when there were no birds the sky overhead was clear and when there were birds the hulking clouds blocked out most of the light. Maybe they used a Ouija board for the forecast yesterday instead of weather radars and other scientific information.
So, when there were clouds (and not much light) I came across this Common Raven (Corvus corax) perched on a small rock in an open field that had been feeding on roadkill on the shoulder of the road.
Common Raven fluffed up – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 400, 0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited
I grumbled about the low light earlier but it actually worked in my favor because I was able to bring out nice details in the Raven’s plumage and even got a hint of the blue sheen on some of the feathers and according to the histogram none of the blacks are blocked up. In brighter light there may have been blocked up blacks in the shadows.
Common Raven Histogram
I could lighten the Raven up because the histogram shows that I am nowhere near blowing out the whites but I don’t want to increase exposure if it will add unwanted noise and that can happen easily with blacks and other dark colors.
Common Raven on a rock in an open field – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited
This Raven acted like it was going to expel a pellet for about a minute and I hoped to capture images of that but the bird must have decided it wasn’t time yet and flew off.
In Christian tradition Ravens are considered birds that herald death, evil, warfare or ill omens. I prefer to think of them as intelligent, playful and mischievous tricksters.
I’ve struggled to get close to Common Ravens here in Utah, mostly they are in bad light or are too skittish to get close enough to nearly fill the frame but I was able to get some flight shots this morning.
Common Raven (Corvus corax) in flight ~ Davis County, Utah
Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Ravens have always appealed to me even though some people might consider them “plain black birds”. One of the reason I like them so much is that they are very smart and among the most intelligent birds in the world. I also love the iridescence that sometimes shows in their plumage plus Common Ravens are great fun to observe and to photograph.
This bird was one of a pair that flew close enough to me to get some nice, nearly frame filling images of them with the Wasatch Mountain Range in the background.