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04-13-2018, 04:23 AM   #1
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another request for assistance photographing prairie chickens

I have joined my local Audubon Society ( I recommend highly that others look into doing the same) and am planning a short trip to a location on private land [ we do not have permission to go into the private property ] to attempt to observe Prairie Chickens on Earth Day April 21 about an hour after sun rise

Greater Prairie-Chicken Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Since the birds are on private land in an open field, my observations and possible photography efforts will be from the public roadway. I believe the birds should be to my south if so, the sun would be on my left

______________________________________________

I plan on using binoculars and/or a rented Pentax 80 ED Spotting Scope mounted on a tripod to observe them , depending on how far away they might be

my photography equipment would allow me to choose from:

my K 3 or K 3 II tripod mounted

with various lens that I could choose ranging from focal lengths and maximum apertures:

the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm F2.8 ED DC AW or

the SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM or

the HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW

and I could even add, at the cost of 1 F stop (? ), my HD Pentax-DA 1.4x AW AF Rear Converter

Pentax remote shutter trigger

any thoughts on equipment choice, settings, and anything else?

[ substitution of the photographer is not an option ]


Last edited by aslyfox; 04-13-2018 at 04:31 AM.
04-13-2018, 04:37 AM   #2
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Bring a shorter focal length lens or two to photograph the people you're with. Groups of birders can be as entertaining as the birds
04-13-2018, 04:41 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Bring a shorter focal length lens or two to photograph the people you're with. Groups of birders can be as entertaining as the birds
that's is what the short end of the D FA 70-200mm F2.8 is for

Seriously that is a great idea

I could bring the DA 40mm XS and show the extent of the size of my lenses, ranging from it to the D FA 150-450mm zoom


40 XS

Diam x Length 62.9 x 9.2 mm (2.5 x 0.36 in.)

Weight 52 g (1.8 oz.)

D FA 150- 450

Diam x Length 95 x 241.5 mm (3.7 x 9.5 in.)

Weight 2000 g (70.5 oz.)

Only Hood: 130g
Only Tripod Foot: 195g
04-13-2018, 04:56 AM   #4
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By the Photographic Principle of Comedic Juxtaposition, the 40 XS and the D FA 150- 450 has to be your kit

04-13-2018, 05:03 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
By the Photographic Principle of Comedic Juxtaposition, the 40 XS and the D FA 150- 450 has to be your kit
is that similar to the

abbot and costello, mutt and jeff, laurel and hardy, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bruce Lee rule


Last edited by aslyfox; 04-13-2018 at 05:30 AM.
04-13-2018, 07:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
any thoughts on equipment choice, settings, and anything else?
Prairie chickens aren't nocturnal, so you will have enough light for the teleconvertor on the 150-450. While faster than ducks, they aren't as quick as swallows or hummingbirds. Biggest thing is, they stay still until they think they have a chance to escape and they fly off in any direction, towards you, away from you, sometimes they even try running. If you had access to walk the property (or to send a dog running through it), I would send someone transecting the terrain and wait for the chickens to make their move once the interloper has passed by them.
04-13-2018, 07:40 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
Prairie chickens aren't nocturnal, so you will have enough light for the teleconvertor on the 150-450. While faster than ducks, they aren't as quick as swallows or hummingbirds. Biggest thing is, they stay still until they think they have a chance to escape and they fly off in any direction, towards you, away from you, sometimes they even try running. If you had access to walk the property (or to send a dog running through it), I would send someone transecting the terrain and wait for the chickens to make their move once the interloper has passed by them.
no physical access to the property permitted at all

I think we are hoping to see them and see " demonstrations " as the male try to attract the females
04-13-2018, 08:15 AM   #8
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I think you mentioned that you have a K-3; shouldn't be a problem at all using a higher ISO and the 150-450mm even with a 1.4x teleconverter. You may have a bit more noise to deal with but shooting at 3200 or 6400 ISO is practical as long as you have a stable mount for the long lens. Best to use the timer or an IR camera remote so as to reduce vibration when shooting.

I was "shooting" some snow geese yesterday with a Sigma 55-500mm lens hand-held at ISO 800 and got some good shots after I figured out my spot AF point was off center (duh). Although you might not have as much light, you should still have good success but a long lens is really desirable for birding. The higher f stops on most telephotos isn't that much a problem anymore with modern digital cameras and you can even stop down a bit to get better lens performance.


Last edited by Bob 256; 04-13-2018 at 08:27 AM.
04-13-2018, 08:23 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob 256 Quote
I think you mentioned that you have a K-1; shouldn't be a problem at all using a higher ISO and the 150-450mm even with a 1.4x teleconverter. You may have a bit more noise to deal with but shooting at 3200 or 6400 ISO is practical as long as you have a stable mount for the long lens. Best to use the timer or an IR camera remote so as to reduce vibration when shooting.

I was "shooting" some snow geese yesterday with a Sigma 55-500mm lens hand-held at ISO 800 and got some good shots after I figured out my spot AF point was off center (duh). Although you might not have as much light, you should still have good success but a long lens is really desirable for birding.
no K 1

K 3 and K 3 II

thanks for the hints
04-13-2018, 11:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
see " demonstrations " as the male try to attract the females
It's been a few years (to put it mildly) since I was a kid growing up on a farm, but I can't recall ever seeing prairie chickens demonstrating their attractiveness, except on a TV screen. Just their wild reactions when I almost stepped on them. As I recall, their sense of hearing is better than their vision, so no screw drive lenses! You will definitely need all the reach you can get.
04-13-2018, 03:13 PM   #11
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this is what I hope to see

Leks Prairie Chicken - Bing video

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Leks+Prairie+Chicken&&view=detail&mid=5...81&FORM=VDQVAP

and perhaps photograph
04-24-2018, 04:10 PM   #12
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unfortunately the trip got rained out

darn April rain
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