|Vermillion in Full Sun|
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500, ISO 160, f/8, 1/250
She surprises with pockets of riparian habitats offering close ups views of many wildlife species. The Cottonwood Campground, Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin are the three largest primary riparian areas within the park.
Our first stop in the park was Cottonwood Campground. The reward? Vermillion flycatchers that zipped from campsites, to barbed wire fences to low hanging branches.
My first step was to observe their flight patterns and poses. From there, I determined my plan of locations, camera settings, lighting and lens. As I had recently added a Nikon 910 Speedlight to my arsenal, it was a well appreciated tool in the shady Cottonwoods.
While photographing birds, I almost always use Aperture Priority mode. Given the shady conditions in the campgrounds, the best images came from those with f/stops that ranged from f/7.1 to f/10.
The lower the f/stop number means a larger amount of light coming through the lens. The more light, the faster the shutter speed. With more light, the depth of field is more shallow which means your foreground is sharp and the background is blurred.
The male vermillion below was captured using an Aperture of f/7.1. The bird is in focus and the leaves and branches are very soft and blurred. The female was captured using an Aperture of f/9. You'll see a bit more branch detail behind her but with some blurring. It was very windy and I wanted to capture the surroundings to share her delicate strength as she gripped the branch. The Nikon 910 Speedlight was used in these two images to get more detail of the feathers.
|Nothing Boring about the "Bird on the Stick," Vermillion Flycatcher|
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500mm, ISO 250, f/7.1, 1/250 sec
|Female Vermillion hangs on in the West Texas Breeze|
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500mm, ISO 250, f/9, 1/640 sec
As a photographer, it was a rare gift to capture and now share.
|Black Hawk Preening for its Mate|
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500mm, ISO 250, f/7.1, 1/200 sec
That afternoon was spent in the Chisos Basin where a winding, steep downhill led to nesting pairs of Mexican Jay's. These jays can be found in oak woodlands in Western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Always sassy and full of spunk, the Mexican Jay's vibrancy glows against the desert background.
|Mexican Jay peering around an oak|
Nikon 7100, Sigma150-500mm, ISO 250, f/9, 1/250 sec
Since it is remote and vast in scope, planning in advance is highly recommended. We stayed at the Big Bend Casitas at Far Flung which is just outside the park in Terlingua, Texas. The cozy casitas (cabins) were well appointed with small kitchens and very clean. The grounds observed the 'no lights outside' so you could rock the time away gazing at the stars from your private porch, relaxing in a rocking chair.
The real west awaits....
Happy Trails and Happy Shooting!