On July 20th, 2014, I decided on doing some bird photography at Castlewood Canyon State Park, Colorado. For the bird photographs I used my Nikon setup of the D7000, 300mm f/4 paired with the nikon x1.4 teleconverter. So if you are wondering if the image quality of the 300mm f/4 falls off when using the x1.4 teleconverter the answer is yes. But not by much. The extra reach to get bird photographs is well worth it, even with 1 stop of light loss.
For the purpose of this post all footage and pictures were taken with this setup. The camera and lens was attached to my tripod and gimbal head the entire hike. I got to Castlewood Canyon State Park around 8 am, a pretty late start for bird photography. Most of the keepers I got from this trip were all photographed within the first hour of arrival. Which is usually how it goes when you are looking to photograph wildlife. Birds are extremely active in the early morning and are hungry. This provides the best opportunities to shoot them as they are hiding less.
Not only that. Summertime in Colorado everyone wants to be outside enjoying the outdoors. Castlewood Canyon State Park is not a quite place on the weekends. It is however, pretty quiet if you get there before everyone else. I find that with most Colorado state parks to arrive as soon as they open. This is very critical if you are trying to get some great video and sounds of wildlife. Once the trail traffic gets picked up your audio is going to be screwed up if people are walking by you.
I was positioned pretty much in a stationary spot for about 30 minutes or so photographing a Juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbird.
Really like the head tilt from the young hummingbird right here. While he was definitely aware of my appearance, the 420mm reach allowed me to keep plenty of distance between me and the bird. Plus I dress in camouflage from head to toe, along with a camouflaged tripod and lens cover.
I’ve been on hundreds of hikes and bird photography opportunities and always try to keep learning from my mistakes. Even though I have an extremely stable tripod for my lens setup, I had the shutter speed way to low at around 1/160 sec for most of the hike. I usually don’t go below 1/400sec shutter speed when photographing birds even with a tripod. Needless to say many of the shot didn’t come out as sharp as I would have like as birds generally do not like to stay still. I was able to get many keepers but if I would have just bumped the shutter speed up a little I would have gotten a lot more.
The hummingbird pictures should provide you with an idea on the sharpness of the photo you can get with the Nikon d7000, 300mm f/4 and x1.4 extender can capture. Definitely a great bird photography set up if you are on a budget.
I was photographing this Juvenile Broad-tailed Hummingbird for quite a while. He was begging for food the whole time, but didn’t really get to capture the feeding process. I did however take some footage of the Juvenile Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
Nikon D7000 Camera Footage of Juvenile Broad-tailed Hummingbird
After hanging out with the Juvenile Broad-tailed Hummingbird for awhile the rest of the hike was kind of slow for wildlife photography opportunities. For information purposes I spent about 3 hours hiking around and only got a handful of keeper photos to share with you all.
Here’s a pretty cool image of a not so rare Turkey Vulture just hanging out on a tree.
Another popular bird in Colorado, especially at state parks are Steller Jays. Even though they are not by any means considered to be a rare bird, they are still worth photographing every opportunity I get. In my opinion.
Spotted Towhees are also abundant on popular nature trails in Colorado. They are pretty kick ass songbirds in my opinion and always worth snapping a photo of. I’ve been trying to get some decent footage of them singing for quite a while now.
Remember me mentioning I wish I had upped my shutter speed? I was lucky to get this picture of a Red-breasted Nuthatch at that ridiculous shutter speed. Nuthatch’s don’t stay still for long. They are always moving when foraging through trees and shrubbery. Recommend always using a fast shutter speed of 1/400sec or more, even when stabilized on a sturdy tripod.
Not the most successful bird photography hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park, but definitely not worst day either.