It is still enjoyable to visit the grasslands north of Harrison, even if it means arriving during the middle of the day and the dreaded light of mid-day. Why not practice our photography even when the light, and often the subjects won’t cooperate to help make a memorable image? Early August and the pronghorn bucks are giving the photographer a moment or two to shoot an image before they begin to move away. At other times of the year, (my memory fails me about the month) pronghorn bucks will often approach the photographer — I’ve seen them cover several hundred yards, for example, their curiosity apparently working overtime. Anyway, the grasslands yesterday were still green in places, the pronghorn bucks for the most part looking sleek and ready to go into their breeding season. The pronghorn does accompanied by this year’s young are returning to the herds. The buck above has about the widest horns I’ve personally seen, the next buck much more the norm for headgear.
Back to the lighting, yes, early morning and later evening light is usually optimal for good photography. But being out in mid-day isn’t so bad if the temperatures and humidity cooperate. I worked on a new panorama process, three horizontal frames to make a vertical composition, the subject and light were ok, but it is more difficult to visualize a “stacking” of three frames — it is easier to shoot vertical frames from left to right and “pre-visualize” what the result may be. Practicing photography in these conditions won’t make great images, but it can help us learn.
One of the easier lessons from Thursday was that my manual focus macro lens, touted for it’s sharpness — isn’t much good for moving subjects — something I’d learned earlier with a manual focus telephoto lens for wildlife. Not only manual focus, but requiring the photographer to stop down to a working f-stop and then focus through the “darker” viewfinder. Successful shots are few and far between. Better a more modern, auto focus macro lens. The older lens is just fine for landscapes, but try following a butterfly around for awhile with a lens requiring manual focus and manual stop down to the correct f-stop!
Another problem found in practice. Using a “stop-down” manual lens, without AF, requires that the camera also be set to manual exposure — what happens when we go from sunlit subjects to darker, shaded subjects? Here underexposure helped miss a nice opportunity to photograph five gobblers feeding in an open, shaded area. I did switch to a 70-300mm zoom lens. For wildlife photography, I’ve normally used the “TV” or shutter preferred exposure mode, sometime tinkering with a slight exposure compensation, but jumping from manual to auto still requires knowing which mode the camera is set to. A recent book mentioned that most cameras today have a “return to default” menu selection if the camera isn’t cooperating to all of the changes.. Good idea.
Here is the “stacked” pano of a building storm cloud over the Pine Ridge — it didn’t quite work as I would have liked, — it may also be that just because digital cameras let us “stitch” panoramas easily, why make things so complicated when a straight-forward, simple , single frame composition, especially with a higher mp, full-frame sensor camera can look so good — and even better in “good light”. Practice, practice and practice some more!