Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“Bats and More Bats”

Bats and More Bats DSC_3249  NIKON D300S September 18, 2011

The evenings and nights was the most interesting portion of the PhotoTrap Workshop. We started at 5:00 PM setting up an individual station for each of the four workshop participants to enable photography of Nectar Bats.  We utilized high speed flashes along with the PhotoTrap equipment to capture the bats in flight.  We focused on a flower that the bats feed on. The cameras were on manual with settings of f 16 and a shutter speed of 1/250 second, with an ISO of 400.  Autofocus was turned off. We framed the flowers in the viewfinder to give enough room around to capture the bat.  Two of the nights I used my 70-200 mm lens, set to around 80 mm.  The other night I utilized my 17-35 mm lens at 35 mm; so I could capture the ambient light in the night sky.  My settings were f 5.6, 30 second exposure, ISO 800 and the flashes turned down to their lowest power setting on manual. 

After everything was tweaked at the Nectar Bat stations, we went down to the pond   to set up to capture the Brown and Pallid Bats in flight, coming in to get a drink of water.  I utilized my 500 mm Lens with setting of BULB at f 11 - 16 (adjusted after a few photos to the best f stop), ISO 400. Again every setting was manual and no autofocus or VR on.  We controlled the shutter by utilizing a connected remote release.  We sat by a television monitor that had an infrared live view of the pond.  Soon as one of the participants saw bats coming in, they would say bat and we would hold down the remote and hoped that the bat would break the beam on the PhotoTrap and fire the high Speed Flashes. we would hold down the switch for around 20 seconds, but release after the flashes fired, then hold the shutter release down again, because there could be another bat coming in right behind the first.

Little Brown Bat - two Flying_ROT5168  NIKON D3S September 17, 2011Little Brown Bats

Pallid Bat_ROT4753  NIKON D3S September 16, 2011Pallid Bat

Around 9:00 PM when the action basically stopped at the pond, we broke down our equipment, and returned back up to the Nectar Bat Stations to tweak the settings.  We also needed to make sure we had enough battery power and card space to last the night, since the bats will continue feeding until daybreak.  In fact, the last night, when I returned in the morning to pick up my camera and lens, prior to going to the airport, both batteries in my Nikon D300s had run down and I had 1000 pictures.  Of course, a number of the photos had cut-off wings, rear facing bats, bats with their faces buried in the flower or the bat behind the flower, but I had a number of really interesting poses.

bl Mexican Long-tongue Bat-D3C_3104  NIKON D300S September 18, 2011Mexican Long-tongued Bat scenic

The workshop not only taught me about high speed flash photography along with how to utilize the PhotoTrap but gave me a much better understanding about the behavior and biology of the bats that we had seen.

untitled Brown Bat and Pallid Bat_ROT5840 September 18, 2011 NIKON D3SLittle Brown and Pallid Bats

untitled DSC_4062 September 19, 2011 NIKON D300SMexican Long-tongued bat and look at the length of its tongue

untitled Lesser Long-nosed Bat -D3C_3102 September 18, 2011 NIKON D300SLesser Long-nosed Bat Scenic night ambient light

untitled Lesser Long-nosed Bat_D3C_2605 September 17, 2011 NIKON D300SLesser Long nosed Bat Agave Flower

untitled Little Brown Bat_ROT5821 September 18, 2011 NIKON D3SLittle Brown Bat

Information about the workshop can be found at: http://www.naturescapes.net/docs/index.php/workshopdetail?ws_code=arizona_phototrap_2011 and information about the Pond at Elephant Head and the PhotoTrap http://www.phototrap.com/trap.htm, http://www.phototrap.com/pond.htm. If you inquire, please let them know I referred you

Scott Linstead’s information is at http://www.scottyphotography.com/