Photographing a Bathing American Coot – TC On or TC Off?

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Adult American Coot bathing in a pondAdult American Coot bathing in a pond – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There are many times when I am photographing birds or animals with a long lens and teleconverter that I have to make a split second decision on whether to leave to the TC on or take it off. The decision to take whole body photos or close ups comes up more often than one would think, especially when a subject moves in closer to where I am. Four days ago I was faced with making that kind of decision when an American Coot swam in close to where I sat at my local pond in a mobile blind and started bathing with much enthusiasm.

Close up of an American Coot bathingClose up of an American Coot bathing – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I opted to leave my teleconverter on while photographing this bathing American Coot, at times I could fit the whole body of the coot in the viewfinder and at other times it was simply too close to fit it all in.

The coots, ducks, geese and grebes at the pond are used to people being near them in the urban environment of this pond so at times they will approach me and others more closely than birds in wilder environments who are less acclimated to humans in their habitat.

Bathing adult American CootBathing adult American Coot – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The afternoon light, clear skies, brilliant blue water and action of the coot were a delight to me after many days of cloudy skies combined with our nasty, valley inversion. I was happy to photograph the coot up close as it splashed water around it while it bathed.

American Coot shaking while taking a bathAmerican Coot shaking while taking a bath – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I don’t know if I have ever seen an American Coot bathe as long as this one did, or maybe it seemed longer than it actually was, when I am photographing it isn’t uncommon for me to lose track of time because I am focused on getting images, paying attention to exposure, shutter speed and my camera settings and the movement of my subject.

There were a few times I was prepared to remove my teleconverter while I photographed this American Coot but then I knew I might miss some great action in the few seconds it takes me to turn the camera off, remove the TC from my lens, attach the lens to my camera and turn my camera back on. I know it happens, I have missed some great action while performing those actions in the past.

American Coot splashing water while bathingAmerican Coot splashing water while bathing – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I’m okay with my decision to leave my teleconverter on while I photographed this bathing American Coot because I took a nice mixture of close ups and full body photos, although the latter are tighter in the frame than I usually prefer.  Maybe next time I will have a little more space between the coot and I.

Life is good.

Mia

8 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte December 23, 2017 at 11:20 am

    After I stopped focusing on the coots red eyes…I noticed how beautifully you caught the splashing water. Really gorgeous shots Mia. Thx.

  2. Azstu December 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Crisp and Even Photography ! 😀

  3. M. Bruce December 22, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the TC On – TC Off discussion Mia. I wrestled with the same problem yesterday in an area where I can get both shorebirds,TC On, and birds in flight where I prefer TC Off. Great shots!

  4. Elephants Child December 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Echoing Laura. I never, ever tire of watching birds bathe. And always smile at those which hang upside down from telephone lines in the rain, wings spread to wash their ‘pits’.

    • Laura Culley December 22, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      EC, we’re so easily amused. And that’s a GOOD thing 😉

  5. Laura Culley December 22, 2017 at 11:08 am

    There’s a special kind of Zen in birds bathing. I could watch it for hours, if that were possible. I’m also glad you left the TC on. Bathing does not last for hours–often it’s just for a minute or so, which doesn’t leave much time for fiddling with equipment, does it? The birds never wait for you! They just go on with their lives.
    Interestingly, your blog featured a series of a Harlan’s hawk with a coot breakfast that you posted back in 2013. Of course, I had to go there! Uh, DUH! 😉 And what a glorious series that was!!

  6. Marty K December 22, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Gorgeous shots! I absolutely love coots! 😀

  7. Liz Cormack December 22, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Glad you left the teleconverter on……the detail is amazing. Wow!

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