Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bunyip State Park + Warburton

It has been way too long since I have been out birding so, despite the weather forecast, I was glad to get out into Bunyip State Park today with the Melbourne Birdlife Photography group.

We spent the morning at Dyer's Picnic Ground on the delightfully named Black Snake Creek Road. Unfortunately, the weather prediction was pretty much spot on: heavily overcast with frequent showers. This made the light very poor and there were not many birds around but when life gives you lemons, make lemonade...so I took the opportunity to practice using fill flash with the Better Beamer. This requires a balancing act of finding the right ISO and aperture settings to get the background exposure with enough light so you don't get a bird on black background and dropping the flash power sufficiently to not over expose the bird or make the flash look too obvious. The two shots below are the best I came up with during the morning but I didn't quite get the balance right - there's still too much flash. This is most noticeable in the eyes - ideally you need to get the flash off camera as much as possible but I don't have a flash bracket so there's a little work needed in Lightroom to remove the eyeshine. Also, the shadows in the background are too obvious - this mostly due to the background being too close to the subject. Ideally, it is good practice to watch your background and move around o get the best possible background but there's not much you can do with small birds in low vegetation and you only have a few seconds to get the shot.

Brown Thornbill, Dyer's Picnic Ground, Bunyip State Park
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x adapter, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/180 (+fill flash)
Grey Fantail, Dyer's Picnic Ground, Bunyip State Park
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x adapter, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/180 (+fill flash)

The afternoon stops did not yield much worth photographing so I took a drive through the park through to Powelltown, where I planned to take at least a short walk along the Powelltown Rail Trail but, as I arrived, it started to rain heavily so I continued the scenic drive through some back tracks to Warburton, where I managed to find a pair of Australian Wood Ducks roosting on a tree in the Yarra River.

Australian Wood Duck (male), Yarra River, Warburton
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x adapter, ISO 800, f/9, 1/180 (+fill flash)
Australian Wood Duck (female), Yarra River, Warburton
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x adapter, ISO 800, f/9, 1/180 (+fill flash)

The combination of larger birds and greater separation from the background made these shots more successful with the fill flash.

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