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Posts Tagged ‘goose’

When I spotted this odd-looking bird yesterday at the Botanical Garden in Brussels, I couldn’t make my mind up if it was a duck or a goose. It seemed too big to be a duck, but its markings seemed too colorful for a goose.

After a lot of searching on the internet, I have concluded this is probably an Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca). As its name suggests, this species is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley and is an introduced species in Europe, according to Wikipedia. There are in excess of 250 breeding pairs in Belgium, primarily around Brussels and the Flanders area, according to a posting on birdforum.net.

This bird did not hang around for very long, so I did not have a chance to see if, as The Bangles famously sang, it walked like an Egyptian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tuzHUuuk).

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The Canada Geese at my local marsh seemed thrilled that the ice on the ponds had finally melted and they splashed about happily in what looked to be a group bathing session. Their exuberance and excited splashing reminded me of a children’s pool party. Previously I had seen geese dip their heads underwater to get wet, but these geese took it another step and appeared to be doing complete flips underwater. There was so much activity that it was virtually impossible to isolate and capture the action in a still shot.

Eventually they needed to dry off and I got this shot as one Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) rose up out of the water and vigorously flapped its wings. There is something about the goose’s pose that I really like, with the curved wings almost mirroring the curved neck.

Canada Goose bath

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) have now invaded the ponds at my local marsh in full force, but the population seems mostly transient, with lots of arrivals and departures, particularly in the early morning hours.

Earlier this weekend, I continued to practice my skills in tracking birds in flight and took a couple of shots that I really like of geese flying in the early morning mist. In both cases I managed to capture a pretty good amount of detail on the goose and the background is a pleasing blur, especially in the first image, in which the hazy outlines of a distant tree line are visible. The goose in the second image was making a turn, preparing for an upcoming landing.

Canada GooseCanada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some folks complain a lot about Canada Geese, but I enjoy trying to photograph them, especially when they are taking off and landing. It seems like the number of them has dwindled somewhat at my local marsh recently–perhaps some of them have migrated north.

Yesterday, this goose began to sound the alarm as soon as it became aware of my presence and took off a short time later, still crying out with its tongue extended. I managed to track the bird as it was taking off and to shoot a series of shots. The sky was pretty heavily overcast yesterday, so I had raised my ISO to 320 and figured that I would have enough speed to capture the action. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that my aperture was still set at f/11, because I had been shooting some landscapes just prior to these shots. I was in aperture priority mode and my camera chose a shutter speed of 1/1oo of a second.

In the first shot, the goose is relatively sharp and there is little motion blur, except for the background, which is blurred, I think, because I was panning as I tracked the goose. In the second shot, though, which preceded the first in time, the wings and the feet have some motion blur, which accentuates the feeling of the goose scrambling to get into the air.

I keep going back and forth in trying to decide which of this two photos I like better. The technical side of my brain wants to vote for the first one, but the artistic side prefers the second image. What do you think?

goose_alarm goose_alarm2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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What it would be like to fly like a bird? When I look at this photo I took recently of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) in flight, I feel almost like I am flying in formation with a gaggle of geese and have glanced over to look at one of my flying companions. The sad reality, of course, was that my feet were firmly planted on the ground and this goose flew by me at a relatively low altitude.

I’d still like to fly—perhaps in my dreams I can take flight.

goose_flying_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What happens if you try to photograph a bird in flight with a shutter speed of 1/100 second? Under most circumstances, you get a really blurry image. However, if you can track your subject by panning the camera, you can freeze (or in this case, almost freeze) the action and as a bonus you get a really cool background.

It was pretty early in the morning and there was not a lot of light when I took this shot. Even though my camera was at ISO 400 and f/6.3 aperture, I knew that the shutter speed was not going to be fast enough to stop the action, given that I was in aperture-priority mode. That’s the main reason that I resorted to trying this panning technique. Getting the right speed for a pan is little hit-or-miss and I never know for sure how well it will work until I look at the results.

I’m pretty happy with this result, because I managed to capture a sense of motion in a still shot, a sense that is accentuated by the motion blur of the wings, as well as by the feeling of movement in the background.

goose_pan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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So many factors have to work together perfectly to get good shots of a bird in flight—the lighting has to be right, the exposure needs to be correct, the shutter speed needs to be fast enough to stop the motion, and, most critically perhaps, the camera has to focus properly on the moving subject. Of course, it helps also to be able to capture the wings in an interesting position and to have a background that is not distracting.

I have been working on taking photos of birds in flight, especially Canada Geese, but it has been rare for me to get all (or even most) of the variables to fall into place at the same time. However, in late December I took a series of shots of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) that turned out really well. The background was the sky, which some folks don’t find to be very interesting, but at least the goose was not obscured by branches. Click on the photos to see them in higher resolution—I was thrilled that I even managed to get a catchlight in the visible eye.

The challenge for me will be to repeat this success with smaller birds that fly faster and less predictably.

goose_flight1_blog goose_flight2_blog goose_flight3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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