Verm Gets Em-Bitterned
Imagine a line up of 100 kabuki actors trying out for a zombie role. Now imagine trying to pick Michael Jackson out of that line up. That's how hard it is to see an American Bittern in its marsh habitat. The brown and tan striping of the bittern is one of nature's great camouflage jobs.
Rocking the camo - the American Bittern.
The Bittern would rather freeze than flush. It assumes if it points its head skywards and gently sways its neck then it is indistinguishable from the reeds around it. It is so convinced of this it will allow a very close approach. This allowed me to try multiple lighting angles for a variety of portraits.
Glamour shot. 500mm, 1/500, f/6.3, ISO 500.
This shot could cost my friend Chuck 8.5K to keep up in the optics race. Nikkor 500mm at around 1:1, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 800, Nikon D600.
During this lengthy portrait shoot (most human models would have quit way sooner) the bittern became accustomed to my presence, realized I wasn't a threat, and proceeded to go about its business - hunting, preening, etc. Here's some more pics.
Deep in the reeds, the Bittern stalks it's prey. Shot from near minimum focusing distance of my 500mm as I lay on the ground and supported the lens with my pack. f/5.6 for shallow depth of field to blur the reeds in front and behind the bird. No cropping here - that's how good my model was.
Yup, tastes like chicken. 24-120 at 98mm to get whole bird in, then the cropaholic in me took over to highlight the meat of the matter.
The last rays of sunlight illuminate the reeds as a great day of shooting comes to an end. Minutes after I took this, the Bittern calmly walked up the bank 12 feet from me, paused to pose for one last portrait, then flew off for the night. 80-200mm at 125mm, 1/80th, f/16, ISO 1250.
My apologies to those who read the title of this blog and continued this far looking for vitriol and cynicism and instead got a kinder, gentler Verm. Hey, sometimes it's good to be em-bitterned.
Amazing John. Seriously.
Really fabulous John. I'm warming my camera up for our trip to Portugal in April.
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