Snow Geese

Snow Geese

I took these over a few winters at a New Jersey salt marsh. These snow geese, with a few Brandt thrown in, are something everyone must see. You must ignore the cold, bundle up, and take a drive out to these marshes as they are full of life even in the dead of winter.

The geese will appear first on the horizon over the ocean as a dot to then grow into a teaming, honking, mass of chaotic feathers. Thousands per flock will fly in to land in the marsh literally twenty feet over your head. Yep, don’t open your mouth when you look up.  Just fantastic.

Shooting Tips

I shot most of these with my Canon 70-200 f2.8 zoom and with 200mm zoom, you don’t get very close. So most here are deep deep crops. When you are cropping so deeply, it helps to have a high megapixel camera. Some say you don’t need high megapixel sensors, and this is very true for general photography, but if you want to pull in a bird, you have to crop. However, there is no free lunch and cropping deeply will reveal all kinds of problems such as not-perfect focus or exposure. It will also show the awful graininess of high ISOs.

So, if you going to crop deeply, try and keep your ISO to less than 800 and use expensive glass. Sorry, but high quality lenses are just better as your deep crops will look sharper and pricier lenses will let you shoot more open such as at f/2.8 which will give you a faster shutter speed. Faster shutters are necessary to freeze fast moving animals.

Notice how birds are darker than the sky. Given that birds are a small percentage of the total viewing area your camera sees, the camera thinks the scene is bright and therefore darkens the scene. Well this just blackens out the bird. Now you have to lighten the pic in software later and with deep cropping, the bird ends up looking like it was snapped with an old Kodak Instamatic crap camera. So, you need to use exposure compensation and brighten the shot. Try shooting at +1 as a start; you probably will have to go to +2 if the sky is cloudy. Cloudy, while letting less sun through, looks whiter/brighter to the camera and just makes the birds darker.

I shot these when I was just learning and they aren’t that good, technically, so I was reluctant to publish these on my blog. But I like them nonetheless.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D MkII
  • Canon EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS II,
  • LightRoom

Location Types: Nature Reserve. Galleries: Birds and Geese. Tags: 5D Mk II and 70-200mm 2.8.

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