Snow Geese Lift-off at first light, Prime Hook NWR, Delaware
February 21st, 2012
After receiving several reports that the Snow Geese had arrived to the Delaware Bay in large numbers, I decided to have a run at capturing this amazing natural phenomenon this morning. I left my house at 4:30am to make the two-hour drive to Prime Hook NWR in time to hopefully catch the geese at first light.
It was a success! The geese usually seem to stay pretty far back on the refuge in ponds that are completely inaccessible, but this morning I was lucky enough to catch them on a pond right off the main road paralleling the refuge. There were literally tens of thousands of snow geese sitting on the pond when I arrived. And if you have ever photographed this amazing phenomenon, then you know all you have to do is wait for them to begin to take off, land again, and repeat the process over and over. A little anticipation of the shot and luck will net some amazing results.
Both of the above images are side lit as the sun is just over the horizon proving warm and directional light. I wanted the geese to be tact sharp, and because I was shooting them with a long 300mm lens from quite a distance away, I was able to set my F-Stop to F8 – just enough depth-of-field for sharpness throughout. However, this does not freeze the action of the birds, so it was necessary to bring up my ISO to 500 in order to shoot at 1500th of a second. That was plenty enough to arrest the motion of the birds at take off and in flight.
And finally, a shot of geese against the rising sun. This is an important lesson in photography – never forget to look behind you! As I was shooting the take off shots, I quickly glanced back to see a sea of geese rising up against the rising sun. I quickly swiveled my camera and got off a few shots. Shooting in Aperture Priority allowed me to concentrate solely on the composition and focus instead of having to mess with the exposure and probably miss the shot.
That’s it for now! I will be leaving for Nevada this weekend, so expect to see some new images from the desert in a week or two.
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