Kiawah Wildlife

I took my family on vacation June 16th, going to one of our favorite places - Kiawah Island (about 20 miles south of Charleston, SC). We had all 4 of our kids, two of whom are married, and so we had their spouses, and the 3 grandchildren (with the 4th due August 1). Quite a houseful! We had a fantastic time, and I was able to break away a few times during the week to try and capture some of the beautiful wildlife on the island. Since the times we can get the entire family together are not that common, I didn't want to spend too much time away, and so I wasn't able to take the kind of time I would really need to do all the shooting I wanted to, but I'll save that for a future trip.

This was my first real attempt to photograph birds in the wild, and quickly discovered how extraordinarily challenging this can be. It's one thing to get nice shots of captive birds at the Raptor Center, but quite another to have to go out and find them, have the weather cooperate, get close enough without spooking them, and get well-exposed and well-focused pictures under rapidly changing conditions.

I was especially interested in photographing them in flight, and clearly this was the hardest of all. I was pretty pleased with the AutoFocus performance of the Canon D30 with the 100-400L IS lens (in AI Servo mode), but the main difficulty was following the bird in flight and keeping it in the viewfinder when zoomed out at 400 mm, hefting 5 pounds of camera equipment, with these beautiful creatures generally moving along fairly quickly. And it was also frustrating not being able to have any major control of the background and lighting for the shots, as I just had to go where the birds were, following them where they went, and shoot from where it was possible to get to.

But even with the difficulties, and perhaps because of them, I had a great time out there trying to get a few decent enough shots to post. I hope you enjoy them.

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