Went to a river that don’t froze during winter and where Mallard Ducks stay all winter because peoples give them foods. They are easier to get close to photograph and the setting can be beautiful when there is fresh snow on the ground. There was around 30 of them last week-end when i went with my family, my 2 young girls love to observe the Ducks.
It was quite warm for a winter day, around -4C, it was cloudy with some periods of falling snow. Since Ducks are easy to get close i was shooting with 2 cameras (Canon 7D and T3i), with my 400mm/5.6L and 70-200mm/4 L (with and without my TC 1.4X II attached). It was a good combination, i was able to switch rapidly between my 2 kit depending on the situation and distance of my subject.
Here is one of a female in the river.
T3i, 70-200mm/4L at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
Male taking a break in the river.
T3i, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/320 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
The Vacuum Duck.
T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 163mm, ISO 800, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
Another female Mallard Duck.
T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 159mm, ISO 800, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
7D, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 640, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.
I was there only 1 hour, my kids wanted to go back home, but this week-end i will go again on Sunday. The temperature will be around -20C in the morning so it will be good for photography, the Ducks will have frost on their feathers ! The 400mm was often too strong and the Ducks looked too tightly squeezed in the frame, will probably use more my 70-200mm this time, might even try to get a shot with my WA lens.
Well, this is not really Wild Animals since it’s a Zoo that animals are in liberty and you drive in the enclosure , excepts for the predators that are in “smaller enclosure” but not as small as a regular Zoo. I like to go there with my kids but also for taking photos of animals that would be difficult to find in the wild around here. Sure it’s not as fun as photographing a truly wild animal but it’s good to get close-up of them or to keep your skills sharp and try new equipments.
I’ve always shoot with my Pentax equipment before but this time it was the first time with my Canon gear (i only have my Canon since last March). By experience i knew what i needed to cover all the possibilities and weight was not an issue since you have to stay in your car for most of the viewing.
So here is what i had with me:
– Canon T3i and 7D
– Canon 70-300mm IS (non-L )
– Canon 400mm/5.6 L
– NEX-3 with my 18-55mm Kit lens for the animals close to me while driving.
– Tripod for the walking part (Wolves).
The 70-300mm was the lens i used the most, it covers most of my needs there and makes switching composition very effective. When i use Pentax my DA*50-135mm with a prime 300mm lens are my choices. If you plan do go at that “Zoo” or other Zoo like this in the world, a 70-300mm, 80-400mm or 100-400mm is a must have lens that will cover the majority of the situations. I also brought my NEX-3 with a 18-55mm lens for animals that came very close to the cars, i always came back with interesting close-ups of animals taken with that kit.
Beautiful eye of the Alpine Ibex, i was able to quickly took that shot because i didn’t had to change lenses on my cameras since i was using 3 cameras and 3 lenses.
Sony NEX-3 with 18-55mm kit lens, at 55mm, ISO 200, 1/320 sec. at f/8.
Having a camera with IBIS or lenses with IS or VR is very useful but you can also use a bean bag, but many years ago i went there and i didn’t had any lens or camera with stabilisation and was able to get sharp shots by using good technic. Light level can be low in the forested area when animals are hiding in the shadows.
Elk are everywhere along the road and they like carrots a lot, as soon as you slightly open your window they put their big nose in the opening, so at the end your car windows are quite dirty 🙂
Elk with leaves certainly is a view from the rut season.
Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 115mm, ISO 800, 1/640 sec. at f/5.6.
Same Elk but from a different angle, maybe not the best composition but i like the Canada Geese and Beaver house in the background that shows the habitat of that magnificent animal.
Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 95mm, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6.
This one is a big Male taking a break, looks like is eye is damage, rut season is tough, even in that Park they battle for females.
Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 100mm, ISO 800, 1/200 sec. at f/8.
We were lucky to experience a pack of Coyote howling, this was a lot of fun ! The friend of my older girl took a video with her iPod:
My wife and i were able to take some shots of those Coyotes, my wife was on the good side of the truck for taking photos and i tried to get some shots, as well as i could from my position.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6 L, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/6.3
Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, at 115mm, ISO 800, 1/160 sec. at f/8
Like i said above, this is a good place to obtain photos of animals but there is a negative point. Since you shoot from your car you can’t get lower and you have to shoot from the road which limits your mobility as a photographer, like this shot below of Wildboars.
Family of Wildboars, this is a situation that i was limited by my truck, they were walking and would have liked to be lower near ground level.
Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 110mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3
Bison on muddy terrain, in the background you can see a female with it’s young.
Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 110mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3
Close-up of the head of a Bison, this was a big male.
Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 85mm, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/6.3
At one point during your visit there is picnic tables and a small farm where you can stop get out of your car and lunch. There is only White-tailed Deer in liberty, so there is no danger to walk down the trails.
This White-tailed Deer was photographed just beside the parking lot, i wanted to show how well they are camouflaged in their habitat.
Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/640 sec. at f/6.3
This young White-tailed Deer was very tolerant, my kids were able to pet it like a dog.
Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3
Then we went to the trail to see Grey Wolf and Black bears as well as a show with different species, we even have the opportunity to pet a Turkey Vulture.
Close-up of a Turkey Vulture that was giving a show.
Canon T3i with 70-300m IS, at 190mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3
The sun was out for this shot of a Grey Wolf, not the best light in a forested area but i had to do with it, i stopped the lens to f/11 to show how the Wolf blend in it’s habitat.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/1250 sec. at f/8, tripod (BTW the only shot posted here taken with a tripod).
So if you want to visit the Omega Park situated in Montebello, Province of Quebec, Canada, you will not regret it.