Wildlife Photography And Sigma DG 70-300mm
On Sunday we had some friends over and went to a picnic area called Font De Mortits, out a-ways from Sagra, up the mountain.A beautiful place, with thick Woodland (unlike Jalon) and an area for barbecues. Here the Font comes straight out of the mountain and although the water is not of the same quality as the Font De Gel, it is natural.I took a drive up there on Saturday afternoon, just to check that everything was O.K. for the following day, the area was totally deserted and beautifully calm and serene-at this point I thought it would definitely be a candidate for an early morning wildlife shoot. So back to the house and pack all the gear and early to bed, ready for a very early Sunday start.
I was up pre-dawn Sunday morning, trying not to wake up the family while making a flask of tea and a bowl of porridge. I got to the Font at about sunrise and spent a good half an hour sitting quietly as this a necessity when photographing wildlife in their environment. After about ½ an hour, all the wildlife came out to play (it´s that time of the year) and it struck me that animals are wary of humans bearing camera equipment but they are curious of humans too.In this place, there is what I can only describe as a horse trough, made of stone, obviously to water larger animals such as mules and the like that passed by with their human masters in days of old,( this was an old route to Pego and the coast in ancient times). Now this horse/mule trough is a complete little eco-system, with varying sizes of frogs, grass snakes, insects and probably a myriad of other creatures I was´nt able to see.One little frog, with more courage than the rest, kept going to the same place,when I approached it would jump in with a “plop” in the trough but always come back 5 or 10 minutes later, so in it´s absence, I set the camera and Tripod up for it´s inevitable return, which it duly did, by now i´d learnt wildlife does´nt like jerky movements-it causes absolute animal panic, so you have to approach slowly, in an unthreatening manner, always remembering they have a personal space that you can´t breach-or they´re gone, it´s about a meter and a half, which coincidentally is the minimum distance you can focus with the Sigma DG 70-300mm macro.
A funny old lens this, takes a bit of getting used to but i´ve found that for close-up work it´s a dream, even on the 50D. If you want to use it for long,long,long shots in the distance, forget it, unless you are going to use a lens support on your tripod. At 300mm it is impossible to focus and in Live View with magnification enabled-it´s like trying to focus on something on the ground from a rollercoaster! However with Macro enabled (not true Macro about 1:2 not 1:1) it´s great. My one is an older version not the newer APO version and the newer may have been tweaked a bit, it is a very popular third-party lens. It cost me about € 110.00 way back in 2009 and I reckon for the price it´s pretty good. The reviews are a bit conflicting, some say works best on a FF camera others say the opposite, my own personal opinion is for close-up, it really produces some good results.
I like this shot of Froggy, he/she has a mischievous smile, almost as if daring me to take the shot before diving in the water again before all the camera settings are ready-must be a young one. What he/she does´nt know, is that i´m a Father to an 8 year old daughter and patience is something i´ve had to learn-for the most part, so Froggy, you´re on my sensor!I think for wildlife photography Tai Chi might be a good discipline to get into, at least you could be doing something while waiting for the show to start, hmmm, better jot that down for my 2012 To-Do list!
f/22, 1/10 sec, ISO 400, 300mm Macro enabled