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Photographing Toucans with 400mm Lenses

In the event you present anybody footage of birds from South America, there are two sorts that they’re positive to know: toucans and parrots! Toucans are the topic of as we speak’s article – I’ve photographed them for years throughout my travels, with a wide range of camera tools. But nearly at all times with a 400mm lens.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 3200, 1/2500, f/6.3

Toucans are unmistakable birds with enormous, colourful beaks. However there are in truth about 50 totally different species of toucan all through Latin America, and never all of them dwell the place you’d anticipate. Relatively than lowland rainforests, the toucans I are likely to {photograph} are fairly excessive within the mountains.

Even the identify of those toucans provides it away: they’re known as Mountain Toucans, and 4 species of them dwell within the cloud forests of the Andes (as much as 3650 meters / 12,000 toes in altitude). They appear much like each other, with a shared colour scheme of blues, browns, yellows, and reds. I’ve now managed to {photograph} three of them (all besides the Hooded Mountain Toucan). Since they’re comparatively massive birds, a 400mm lens is often my focal size of alternative.

Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan

My first encounter with this lovely toucan remains to be vivid in my reminiscence. I used to be sitting outdoors my tent, a few full day’s stroll by means of the forest trails to the closest civilization. Water was boiling in a pot for tea, once I heard a music that I solely knew from recordings. The Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan was close by.

Libor_Tent in Ecuador_Cloud forest
NIKON D300 + 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 11mm, ISO 250, 1/30, f/9.0

It was 2010 on the time, and I used to be utilizing the Nikon D300 to file scientific imagery. Since then, I’ve gone again many instances, together with with higher tools just like the D500 and F-mount 400mm f/2.8.

On that journey, I used to be very fortunate. My group was staying on my pal’s property, photographing small birds like tanagers and hummingbirds. He identified {that a} Mountain Toucan nest was close by, and I dropped what I used to be doing instantly. Photographing a Mountain Toucan within the nest? This was a possibility I couldn’t miss. I grabbed my camouflage web and headed out.

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Mi Word 10 Professional @ 6.7mm, ISO 706, 1/50, f/1.7

I arrange my tripod, mounted my Nikon D500 with the outdated and heavy 400mm f/2.8 G lens and 1.4x teleconverter. This was my first photograph of those birds on the nest. I nonetheless remorse that I couldn’t keep longer to {photograph} the feeding of the chicks and their first flight.

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NIKON D500 + 400mm f/2.8 @ 400mm, ISO 1000, 1/640, f/5.0

Usually, you’ll attempt to maximize your attain in wildlife images through the use of longer lenses or getting nearer to your topics. The toucans I noticed right here weren’t very scared of individuals, so a 400mm lens on a Nikon DX camera (1.5x crop issue) was good. I even needed to again up a bit generally, and as you possibly can see, the toucans take up numerous the body. I thought of it a powerful success.

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NIKON D500 + 400mm f/2.8 @ 400mm, ISO 720, 1/400, f/3.2

I’ve additionally photographed the toucans with probably the most trendy 400mm choice that Nikon has, the Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S coupled with a Nikon Z9. Effectively, that was a little bit of an indulgence since I don’t personal the lens, however the built-in 1.4x teleconverter is great for wildlife images. After I noticed two toucans, a mating pair, I used to be ready to take some superb images of them.

Nonetheless, the senses of birds are extremely eager. Camouflage that will idiot the common mammal doesn’t stand an opportunity in opposition to birds. Though I had my setup able to go, the birds this time have been cautious of me. Relatively than touchdown on the department I needed, the 2 Plate-Billed Mountain Toucans watched me from a close-by tree. It was clear to me that I had misplaced this spherical. I packed my gear and hoped for higher luck subsequent time.

Fortuitously, that got here quickly sufficient. At one other web site on the other ridge, one other pair was nesting. These toucans didn’t me as a menace; my guess is that they have been used to feeding on the bananas of close by farms. Nonetheless, their nest was comparatively excessive within the tree. I used the roof of my automobile as a photographic platform.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S @ 560mm, ISO 640, 1/640, f/5.0

And that’s my expertise with the Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan. Though my equal focal lengths right here have been truly longer than 400mm, the 2 400mm lenses I used have been good for the job. If I had a magic wand, I might make the Nikon Z9 capable of shoot RAW images in pre-release burst mode. That may have made it simpler to seize toucans in flight. Even an additional half-second could be a godsend.

Grey-Breasted Mountain Toucan

This toucan and I sometimes met within the subject, however these fleeting encounters resulted in only some unhealthy images, till my more moderen travels. The Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan lives on the highest altitude of all toucans. It is usually one of many 4 endangered species of all the household Ramphastidae.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S Z TC-1.4x @ 560mm, ISO 3200, 1/640, f/6.3

What’s inflicting their decline? That’s a reasonably well-worn story. Lack of pure habitat and conversion to farmland. Reducing down mature bushes with the cavities they want for nesting. Trapping birds and promoting them as pets and even looking them for meat sometimes.

Personally, I can’t think about taking pictures a toucan and roasting it like a rooster. As a Central European, it appears a really weird thought to me. Then once more, some individuals from South America most likely surprise about our consumption of pheasants. So it’s a culturally distorted view. Even so, I used to be glad to be taking pictures them with a camera reasonably than taking pictures them with one thing else.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 640, 1/640, f/6.3

I used to be comfortable to see that this view of toucans – and nature generally – is altering. These magnificent birds can definitely present locals with worth far past simply their energy. I’m speaking about ecotourism and fowl tourism.

When photographers and different vacationers go to an space with magnificent birds, immediately a wholesome forest is way extra beneficial than a degraded pasture. It’s one thing I say on a regular basis: Defending nature should additionally repay for the strange individuals who dwell there. Solely then will conservation actions have an opportunity of a long-term future.

Enticing flagship species, similar to toucans, can play an vital function on this effort. And it’s not simply birds – defending lovely species can profit all the ecosystem and, finally, all the planet. On this approach, the extra ordinary-looking birds can conceal below the wings of the toucans.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 1000, 1/320, f/4.5

As for camera tools, this time, I solely sometimes wanted the 1.4x teleconverter. More often than not, I shot at 400mm on the FX sensor, and it was greater than sufficient. Or, just like the photograph above, 400mm allowed me to contextualize the toucan and present extra of its atmosphere. Generally, it’s not about filling the body with your topic, however telling a narrative.

Black-Billed Mountain Toucan

On my current journey to Colombia, I photographed the Black-Billed Mountain Toucan for the primary time. And it’s one other scenario the place tourism can have a optimistic impression on nature.

Juan Martín is a younger man who purchased a big agricultural property on the outskirts of Manizales about 6 years in the past. On the slopes of Los Nevados in Hacienda del Bosque, he raises cows, horses, and trout. Over time, he’s additionally returning more and more extra of his land to nature.

Juan and his colleagues have planted hundreds of bushes over current years. Add all the pieces up, they usually have planted a bio-corridor almost 20 kilometers lengthy! This permits wildlife emigrate by means of a panorama that’s in any other case extremely fragmented. And Juan is not only doing this as a result of he’s some form of Mom Theresa determine (though he’s a really good-hearted man). His undertaking is viable and worthwhile, which makes it extra prone to final.

NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 720, 1/500, f/5.6

Birders and photographers from everywhere in the world go to his farm every day. The ensuing earnings proves that nature is price its weight in gold. On Juan’s property, two species of Mountain Toucans (amongst many different species) will be photographed in the identical space. That is very uncommon. In truth, previous to Juan’s efforts, ecological literature said that Grey-Breasted and Black-Billed Mountain Toucans had not been seen on the identical web site.

On the day I used to be on the Hacienda, nonetheless, I had no luck with the Black-Billed Mountain Toucan. It was most likely nesting on the time. So then, what’s the photograph you see above? Effectively, the very subsequent day, in a gorgeous remoted spot on the sting of the cloud forest, I had good luck!

At a campground known as Glamping El Coloration de Mis Reves, I used to be capable of affirm with certainty that below the suitable situations, each species of toucans can happen in the identical spot (in a spot apart from Juan’s property)! It was clear from their habits that these birds didn’t see people as a menace. In fact, they saved their distance and warning. Nonetheless, it was attainable to {photograph} them so shut that even a 400mm telephoto lens was generally too lengthy.

Generally, lovely birds like these toucans give us only one probability per day, or much less. However within the secretive world of wildlife images, that’s greater than beneficiant sufficient.

#Photographing #Toucans #400mm #Lenses

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