Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shooting Local Wildlife

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/1600, by Derek Griggs, Monticello, MN

As a nature photographer it is difficult sometimes to find subjects. Since we don't live near Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks we have to look closer to home. Chad and I have a couple of local places that are within 30 miles of our houses.

Monitcello, MN
Monticello has been known for high numbers of trumpeter swan along the Mississippi River due to a power plant up river and the swans have been fed for many years. Monticello is 35 miles north of Minneapolis via Interstate 94. I have met photographers and birders from Canada, North Dakota, Wisconsin and many other states. Although, its not YNP with the big mammals, but it does have thousands of swans to photograph. It can be a challenging place to shoot mostly due to the weather. The steam from the open water adds to the image (in my opinion), however, it can really mess with your autofocus and metering systems.

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS, f7.1, ISO 320, 1/500, by Derek Griggs, Memorial Park

Memorial Park, Shakopee, MN
Memorial Park is along the Minnesota River southwest of Minneapolis. The great thing about this park is that there is a small pond that doesn't freeze over in the winter. The pond then flows to the backwaters of the Minnesota River. At this location, there are high numbers of mallards, geese, some trumpeter swans, bufflehead, goldeneye and various other species of water fowl. I have seen mink, muskrat and bald eagles in the area too. You really never know what you are going to come up with at Memorial Park other than a full memory card!

Bald Eagle
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, f8, ISO 400, 1/1000, By Derek Griggs, Black Dog Road, MN

Ring-Billed Gull
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, ISO 250, f9, 1/1600, By Derek Griggs, Black Dog Road, MN

Black Dog Road, MN
Black Dog Road is 5 minutes south of the Mall of American in Burnsville, MN. This is where it all started for Chad and I. When we first started in wildlife photography we had a friend bring us down to the Minnesota River along Black Dog Road (BDR). Chad and I were amazed that there was a high number of eagles so close to were we grew up. Often sitting in sub zero weather waiting for the eagles to fly by us. There are gulls, a resident belted kingfisher and various water fowl to photograph as well.

We often visit these places when we can't get up to northern Minnesota, or Yellowstone National Park. It does allow us to make photographs and refine our craft. Get outside a find places near your home and get out there and shoot!