Even the Biggest Bird Needs a Photographer Who Will Get Closer

Condor Moon. I have no idea what it would have taken to get both the condor and the moon in focus, but I had to break some rules to get close enough to the condor at all.

I wasn’t sure what gear to bring on our road trip.  It wasn’t a photography trip; just a vacation. But Laurie suggested I bring EVERYTHING, because she knew I’d be agonizing over which lens to use every day. I did bring everything, which was ridiculous, since I used exactly what I thought I would use: Two D7000 bodies and two lenses: 17-55 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, and TC17e-II teleconverter. But the most important photographic accessory was Laurie herself. When I complained that I was too far away to get a good photo, she said, “C’mon,” and strode over the “closed” barrier to a trail under construction.

My first shot of the condors near Julia Pfeiffer State Park was from too far away. They’re eating an octopus or squid or something, but I cannot tell because this is a huge enlargement from a very small section of the frame. No matter how long the lens, it’s never long enough.

After the condor-calimari episode, we went back the next day and saw a condor in a tree. I rattled off some shots, complained about the distance, and that’s when Laurie led me astray.  No one got hurt, and we got much closer to the condor and much better images.  We got the moon image, and a few nice portraits. When in doubt, find a way to get closer.


Photographing a condor from the non-tagged side is a rare treat for me.

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Filed under Nature Photography, Travel and Vacation

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