Sanderlings and Variations of a Theme

October 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Canon 7D, Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS, ISO 400, 1/500 @ f/7.1

The three photos in this post all share a number of similarities.  The main subject of each photo is a Sanderling, a small migratory shorebird that can be found throughout the world.  All three photos were taken at Sauble Beach, Ontario.  They were all taken during late summer, as the first southbound migrants begin passing through Ontario.  They were all made with 35mm cameras, although one was digital and the other was film.

Leica M3, Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM, Arista Premium @ 400, 1/1000 @ f/11

Despite the many similarities, the photos are very different in the feeling that they capture.  One is colour, and the other two are black and white.  One was taken with an 800mm lens (and since it was on a 1.6x crop camera, it had a 35mm equivalent length of 1280mm), and the other two photos were taken with a 50mm lens.

The first photo is the typical type of photo that I would provide to a magazine or book.  It was taken at a low angle, during the golden hour and with a normal "field guide pose".  And to be honest, I'm quite happy with the photo!  It has been one of my longtime favourite shorebird photos.

Leica M3, Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM, Arista Premium @ 400, 1/1000 @ f/11

The other two photos are quite different than the first.  They are both environmental portraits, taken with B&W film, and with a 50mm lens.  As I was taking these photos, I was quite skeptical about how they would turn out, due to having fast-moving subjects and rather challenging light, with the sky being much brighter than the sand.  Unlike digital, I wasn't able to take rapid bursts, making it more likely that the bird's legs would not be posed properly.  

When I received the roll back from the lab, I was pleasantly surprised to see that both of these photos showed the birds in a good pose, and both photos had enough dynamic range to have everything properly exposed with minimal dodging and burning!

The photos were made with cameras that were almost the opposite of each other (digital SLR vs film rangefinder), and with very different lenses as well (50mm vs a 1280mm equivalent).  Ultimately I really like all three of these photos, and it just goes to show that gear doesn't always have to be the limiting factor!


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