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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:48 pm 
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I spent 4 days this fall chasing around a small group of blue jays, probably 6 in total. It was kinda cool and I learned a lot about the species. Although I wasn't in a blind for these shots I was in full camo and sat perfectly still for hours waiting...

One of the biggest surprises with this group was just how quiet they were. I've always had people tell me how loud and obnoxious Jays can be but these guys were silent for the most part unless threatened.

When I fist encountered them it was in an apple tree where the apples had begun to rot. I never knew they were into these so I just assumed that the high sugar content gave them additional energy...

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It wasn't til I got home that evening and looked closer at the pics that I noticed they weren't after the apples but instead were eating the wasps that were on the apples... paying closer attention the next day I would notice they would fly off with the wasp and then hit it against a branch to kill it before swallowing it...

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Although they were feeding on the wasps when I followed them a bit closer the next day I realised they were more focused on feeding on acorns off oak trees... if you look close at the first pic you will notice a second acorn just showing in its throat...

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The last day that I saw them it was extremely windy. I love how the feathers are blowing all over the place in the following pics and also how I had just about the perfect angle to see him cleaning out an acorn.

I was also recently asked how I get such sharp images and the main reason is I am always looking for the fastest shutter speed I can get. When I pointed out one of the reasons for doing this was because wind will also effect blur and hair and feather ruffle easy in the wind the person mentioned they had never thought of that. I think this shows a perfect example of that... I should mention that on this day I kept my shutter speed at 400 but I did have a tripod with me.

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In the past I have found all Jay species to be extremely hard to approach and photograph. These 4 days taught me a lot and were a lot of fun. Next year I plan on spending some more time chasing these guys...

These were all taken in a farmer's yard about 1 hour out of town. After seeing my pics he told me he always used to shoot them in the past but was now reconsidering that.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:37 pm 
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Absolutely great! These shots are really impressive!

I wish I had the time for sitting around some hours waiting for birds.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:20 pm 
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Thanks Jiko... it wasnt so much randomly sitting around.... I watched them from a distance for a bit and looked for repeated habits, branches they would return to to open the acorns, places they would look for them repeatedly, the apple tree they would always go to semi-regularly, places they would perch when not feeding. When I identified these I then took up a position which took light and other things into play and waited. Once I had the locations picked it wasn't a long wait for the Jays to arrive.

Time of day also of course comes into play. These guys would be active from 9am till about 11am and then shut down for the most part and start up again at about 4pm till 5:30pm.

The great thing about seasonal changes is the migration. Most species of birds, as they migrate, will pick places to hold over a few days and refuel themsleves. They tend to stay in a small area for those days. If you can identify those places your odds of success increase tremendously. This small group of Jays stayed in that area for 4 days... it was no larger than a football field.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:47 pm 
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Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
Very nice shots indeed - glad the patience paid off and you were able to get close to them. Of course, it shows how different our places in the world are - as where I live blue jays are extremely common, and rather than being hard to get close to, they're actually hard to get away from! Many here in Florida dislike them, and consider them pests - they will take food off tables while you sit there, land on your shoulder to take handouts, and scream and squawk all day to get your attention.

Here's an old gif I made while handfeeding the blue jays in my front yard - notice there are two more sitting on the wall in the background while one comes up and grabs a peanut from my hand:

http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/image/140349748

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:01 pm 
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Nice to see some truly "wild" wildlife work there. Some day I hope to have the time and patience to do some of that, until then captive is so much more convenient!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:17 pm 
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Excellent series & explanation Wolf.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:35 pm 
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thanks guys.. Zack... Im still amazed at the wildlife in your area and how accustomed it is to humans...Popo... come to canada some day :D

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:59 am 
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Location: Gold Coast Australia
Amazing set, the explanations make it more interesting.

Cheers

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:52 am 
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Wolfsong, the wild-wildlife here does vary a lot. Right now it is easy to get up to the duck/geese/swans as they will literally bite the hand that feeds them. I tried to hug a Canada goose last week, I got a hand on each side but it didn't quite work out as there was nothing to grip and it walked off... but to do unused to human wildlife, that's something totally different. Canada is on my "to visit" list although like many things, it never quite makes it high enough on the priority list to do something about. I'd probably like to take a chunk of time off and do the whole of North America.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:06 pm 
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Amazing photos Wolf. And specially the angles you have captured, make them so very different from a picture encyclopedia photo.....there is so much life in these shots.......beautiful!
Also, there is evidently a huge difference between intentional use of the effects ruffled feathers can create than from unintentional blur induced due to same ruffled feathers :)
In the 10th pic, I am getting a 3D effect...(the jay bending over to finish off nut) the head seems like rising out from the background.
My wife felt that the 11th one has a painting like feel to it...same feeling for me too.
I do hope that the person who put the question about getting sharp photos is hugely benefited from this series ;)

Regards,

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:57 pm 
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Image

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Still playing with the 5D2+135/2 - these are cropped a bit.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:17 pm 
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I love the first one! :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:56 am 
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Bald Eagle sitting in an old cottonwood tree along the Missouri River in South Dakota.
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BEagle_Sitting by Photos by Dete, on Flickr

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:23 am 
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Dete, do you strip your exif data, was interested in what you used for the eagle.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:37 am 
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Lately just been doing a copy/paste original into a 1024 by 768 template to post them on Flickr. Never thought about the exif data...sorry.

For this photo is was:
Camera: D7000
Lens: 300mm F/2.8 nikon
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/1000s
f/2.8

in the process right now of printing it 13"x19" on my Canon 9000 pro Mark II

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