Black Grouse lekking in Finland

Black Grouse lekking in Finland

This image was taken on a nice cool morning when the temperature was -18.5 degrees Celsius according  to the van out to the lekking grounds. We got up around 5am and were collected by our guide Eero around 5:20. We drove 15-20 minutes outside of Vaala in Finland to where the lekking ground were. It was late March, early April when we were there. It was about 1km from the road into the lekking site so some of us took the snow machine with Eero and the rest of us walked. By the time we were all together again, the three hides were prepared and we entered and got ready for the birds to arrive. We took off our boots after we entered and had a sleeping bag to keep our feet warm. The birds arrived with 30 minutes – they just appear out of nowhere. Generally they are pretty far away at the start and they come closer to the hide then and start lekking – a mating ritual of sorts between the different males vying for the attention of the females in the group.

This shot was taken near the end of the time in the hide – the sun had come up behind the hides and cleared the trees and started to throw some nice light on the birds in front of us. I shot this with the 500mm again but I did not need that range for the final display and fights between the birds – 200-300mm would have been plenty  – even on a full frame camera. There was no needs for tripods as we were down on our bellies at eye level with the birds and using the supports that were in the hide – namely bean bags or portable discs with 1/4 in screws in them for the bodies of the cameras to go in. I compensated for the snow and light by adding +1.33ev to the camera’s metering adjustments.

Another image from one of the other lads on the trip can be seen here

Equipment used:

Camera:Canon 1D Mark IV
Lens: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS + 1.4x Extender (Effective focal length 700mm)
Wimberly head attached to mounting plate in the hide
EXIF: ISO 1000 f/5.6 1/1000 +1.33ev 700mm

Photo Shoot with Victoria

Photo Shoot with Victoria

I had the opportunity to shot this great girl – Victoria Almazovaite – with another photographer friend in 2011. Victoria came down to us in Limerick and we set up our studio lights in a large room as we did not have access to the studio at the time. It worked out pretty well now considering we were pretty much portable for the day.

It was a 4 light setup if memory serves – two lights on the back drop to blow it out – attempting to light it at f16 or as close to it as possible. We had a key light and a fill light on Victoria after this. The key light was off to the camera right and power was set to give as close to f8 as possible on the model. The fill light was set to f5.6 and back to camera left. We worked through different poses on the day and this one is one that I really like .. the light in her eyes.

The post processing was done in Photoshop – a straight Black and White using the LAB technique and then some actions from another great photographer – Ciaran White – who has some nice actions available to down and help out with the process.