On our trip to Lake Woodruff NWR in DeLand Florida we were hoping to see Sandhill Cranes. They did not disappoint us. The only problem was it was a spur of the moment trip so I traveled light and only chose the lenses I thought would be best. I did not want to load up the car with too many lenses to carry once we got there. So for long lenses I brought a 300mm with a close focusing capability and a Tamron 150-600mm zoom for versatility along with teleconverters. Usually the Sandhill Cranes are in large flocks or off in the distance. The first walk in to the trails, 2 Sandhills landed right by us within a couple of feet. They stuck with us for quite a while giving me the opportunity to get a lot of portraits. But to get the whole Sandhill Crane in, I resorted to shooting panoramas of them. All panos were shot handheld and assembled in Photoshop. The featured image is only 2 vertical images blended because the Crane was a little further away from me at this point.
I laughed a little when I read that the cranes were so close that you had to shoot panos. It is rare for that kind of situation to arise, but I remember when it did one time when I was shooting with a 70-300mm zoom lens and an egret with breeding plumage landed nearby. I pulled back to 70mm, while the guys with the 600mm prime lens were left scrambling. Your pano shots worked great here, Reed–I’m guessing the cranes were relatively cooperative or you shot really quickly. Were you shooting with the Canon 300mm F4 or the F2.8?
Hi! I was using the 300mm f/4 because it focuses closer and is lightweight. I had to shoot very quickly because they were constantly moving slowly along or feeding in the grasses. Any slight mis-match was easily retouched in. We were really amazed they were that close to us. At times less than a foot, so too close to photograph! Also to have that large a bird, at times as close to a foot, look right at you is a little weird! It was not us moving to them, they were coming closer to us. But it was fun to see them that close. This is the first time that happened over all the years we have photographed there. Even if you wanted to get that close you could not, they were very skiddish!
Thanks, Reed, for the explanation. The only large bird that I have been anywhere near that close to was a Great Blue Heron. I encountered the heron on a boardwalk and we probably got as close as five feet apart. I agree that it is a bit disconcerting to have a bird look right at me. I have yet to see a Sandhill Crane, but have plans in the future to go to some place where I can see them.
A really fine set of photos, Reed!
Thanks Belinda! It was a fun photo trip! Still going through the raw files!
Beautiful shots, Reed, they are quite majestic!
Thanks Donna! They are FUN to photograph. It nice to see them scattered through the Refuge. Past years you would see huge flocks flying through the Refuge. But would always land far out in the fields so no closeup opportunities! This trip was the opposite. You would see a few flying but many closeup.
I just checked out Blackwater NWR’s facebook this morning, a Sandhill Crane is visiting there. WOW! 🙂
Wow! We never saw one there! I wonder what the Eagles thought of the Crane!
They’re calling it a rare sighting, for obvious reasons. I haven’t seen any SHCranes here, and now I’ve got one at home I’m missing! Ugh! 😉
Wow! I would think it would really stand out ar Blackwater! Especially since it is very colorful and LARGE!