Ravens are common in my area but I rarely get interesting quality images of them for a variety of reasons. For starters their deep black plumage makes them very difficult to photograph well. And around here they also tend to be shy and devilishly uncooperative. In some areas (certain National Parks for example) they’re so tame that you almost have to shoo them out of your way to avoid stepping on them but I find them to usually be difficult to approach and uncanny in their ability to ruin a potentially interesting image by insisting on a poor light angle or flying off just before I click my shutter. I swear these intelligent birds get some joy out of doing just that.
And as in some other corvids, having a big lens aimed at them often makes them nervous.
1/2500, f/8, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 100-400 @ 400mm, 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
I photographed this Common Raven just after it took off yesterday morning as I was heading for home along the Antelope Island causeway. For me it’s unusual to get this much detail in those light-sucking blacks, especially in flight. The bird is slightly past me but I like the flight posture, fanned tail, tucked feet and even the slight hint of iridescence in the left wing.
During the past two weeks while I’ve been forced to shoot exclusively with my smaller zoom lens while my 500mm is in the shop I’ve learned an important lesson about my photography technique – in the past I’ve relied much too heavily on the big prime lens. The flexibility of the zoom and its significantly greater depth of field has allowed me to capture many images (particularly flight shots) that I know I’d have missed with the 500 – either because I’d have clipped body parts or because my depth of field was too limited. This image is just one example. The downside to using that lens is that its image quality isn’t quite up to par to that of the 500.
So yesterday I finally broke down and purchased the new version of the zoom – the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens. The newer edition is improved in many ways so image quality should approach that of the 500 and I’ll still have the flexibility of the zoom. If all goes according to plan this raven image is the last bird photograph I’ll take with the older glass.
We’ll see how it goes. Now I need to get busy and sell a used lens.