Red-naped Sapsucker male close up – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I love having the reach that my Nikkor 500mm VR lens with the 1.4x teleconverter gives me almost all of the time but there are occasions where it is simply too much glass. Yesterday for a few brief seconds I had too much glass and too much reach to fit my subject into the frame the way I would have liked.
I was sitting in a mobile blind off to the side of the road focusing on a House Wren nesting cavity where I knew birds would come and go, from all appearances the female is incubating now but the male is hanging around and the female wren does come out to look for food now and then. I kept my teleconverter on to capture her comings and goings and for the male when he showed up.
There are nesting Tree Swallows nearby but with one nesting cavity there are branches near the entrance that create a messy setting in an image and the other nesting cavity is almost directly straight ahead and I have to really get lucky to get the whole birds in the frame even with the teleconverter off.
So I kept my teleconverter attached and focused on the House Wrens until…
I spotted a flash of black, white and red as a bird landed in the aspen tree that was closest to me above where the wrens and swallows are nesting and realized that a male Red-naped Sapsucker had flown in and was foraging for food in the buds of the aspen. I had to decide quickly on whether to miss shots while taking off my teleconverter or just go ahead and take close ups. I opted to take the close ups because I didn’t know how long the sapsucker would be foraging in the tree even though I knew that meant I would miss out on fully body, frame filling images of him.
Male Red-naped Sapsucker extreme close up – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
There was a breeze that bounced the sapsucker around on the thin branches plus his weight made the branches move too so it was challenging to keep my focus on his eyes and head especially as he moved around looking for insects in the catkins of the aspen.
When I came home and reviewed my image of the Red-naped Sapsucker male there weren’t many that I found pleasing to my eye because of the branches, obstructions and composition but these two photos stood out to me, the first one because of the sapsucker having its foot raised and the second one because of the great eye contact and exquisite fine feather details.
The sapsucker only stayed in the aspen for about a minute before it flew off.
I know close ups like these are not everyone’s cup of tea but I really like them both. If I had taken the time to remove my teleconverter I might have missed taking any photos of this striking bird so I am happy with the choice I made.
Life is good.