Call of the Loon
It was worth getting up at 6am this morning... but not just for the spectacular sunrise...
Considering it was my first kayak outing of the season, and the maiden voyage of my Zuiko 100-400mm lens, I was very pleased with several of my captures of the loons on Rice Lake. While I'm sure my shots were 70% luck, 10% timing and 20% curious birds, I also think all my dry land practice was worth the effort.
My investment in this super zoom paid off beyond my wildest imagination, as I not only saw and photographed a single loon, but TWO pairs of them on the lake.
I could hear the loon calls as I trundled down to the lake. Within a few minutes of being on the water, I saw my first loon, gliding out of the wetland area that skirts much of the shoreline at Bellmere. I followed him at a very (what I thought to be) respectful distance and I took my time. I'm by no means a speed paddler, to begin with.
When I felt I was close enough, I carefully and slowly took my camera out of the drybag, my long lens already attached, and started shooting.
You know what's hard to do? Focusing and framing with a 400mm lens when you are physically moving. Every little ripple in the water changes things in a kayak. You also slowly drift and the boat pivots or turns even when you think you have stopped. Oh yeah - it's fun.
For these reasons and due to my own novice experience photographing birds, I had hoped for maybe a couple half-decent images on this outing. Thankfully, the water was fairly still, my knowledge of light and my kit were sufficient and the loons were calm - if not a bit curious - about me. I was treated to several opportunities to capture them.
I realized very quickly that I had to get the low sunlight at my back or my side. Otherwise, the birds would basically be silhouettes on the water. Getting detail in the checker pattern of their backs is not hard - but it's so important to get the light hitting their profile so the beak retains detail and that unearthly red colour to their eyes is evident.
I followed the one pair out further into the lake and was rewarded with seeing a second pair of loons appear. I kept my focus on the nearer pair and was only able to get a couple frames before the foursome broke up.
After about 40 minutes, I decided I had been given many gifts that morning, and left these beautiful birds in piece. While I loved capturing them, I wanted to respect their space and habitat, too. There will no doubt be more early mornings on the lake in my future.
I hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I did in capturing and processing them. Stay tuned! I'm hoping to photograph the local bald eagle at some point!