I purposely left later than normal to head to my favorite state park because I was after gators. I knew the sunny warm day would have them out everywhere but when I got to the park the clouds had rolled in and it was heavily overcast the entire time I was there. Didn't have any luck with the gators but I did find this American Bittern who let me watch him hunt for 2 1/2 hours. When I spotted the Bittern he was about 35 feet away so I dropped my backpack at the top of the bank and slowly worked my way down to the edge of the swamp. The bank was somewhat steep, which made laying head down the bank to uncomfortable of a position. But I really wanted to get a low perspective with my camera just above the weeds. You see....................... My 3 favorite birds to photograph are American/Least Bittern and Green Herons and all three prefer the thick/dense cover. This makes them difficult to photograph because getting clear shots is not always possible. So when they are in the heavy cover I like to get low and capture images that put you there with the bird to give you an idea of their perspective. Not being able to lay facing the bird because of the banks steepness I did the next best thing. I put my legs in water with my butt just on the shoreline and rolled over on my side. Once on my side I bent over into an "L" shape, this allowed me to be somewhat comfortable and to position the camera just above the weeds for that eye level low perspective I was after. This positioning made framing the shots a little difficult, especially with respects to being level. One of the advantages to mirrorless is the electronic viewfinder and the information that it makes possible to display. I have gotten into the habit of shooting with the blinkies on so I can instantly know the status of my highlights and shadows. I also always have the electronic level turned on to make sure I am level, keeps me from losing any of the image from leveling in post. I shoot with composition in mind and try to crop as little as possible in post, so being level to start is crucial. When I first got into position he was at an awkward distance of around 35 feet. It was awkward because with the MC-14 I risked cropping off body parts if he was sideways while catching a snack. But without the added reach from the TC he was just a bit farther out than I would like (I would have moved out into the weeds if it wouldn't have gotten me into trouble with any passing rangers, I have no problem laying in water and shooting). I decided to go without the TC and hope that I wouldn't have to crop anything below 4000px on the long side. One of my requirements for my images is being able to print 40 inches on the long side, which requires at least 4000px. I use Mpix Pro for my prints and they basically recommend 1000px per 10 inches, so a 40x30 print requires 4000x3000px. Yes! I know you can print that large with smaller files. To start with that is what my print service recommends as the minimum. I also want my images to withstand close inspection because lets face it. If someone puts a 40x30 print on their wall visitors will walk right up to and look because most people don't understand that there is a recommend viewing distance for images based on their size. I don't want someone who bought one of my images to have to try and explain (or for me to have to explain to them) recommended viewing distance. So I have a set limit that I try to work in to keep my printed image quality at my standards. But I digress....................... First I should mention that the heavy overcast sky was going to force my ISO higher than I really like when keeping the shutter high enough to freeze the action. This gave me a chance to pull out the Godox V860iiO w/ Better Beamer for some fill as well as to drop the ISO some for better image quality. When he started walking towards me and ducking under and around the reeds I knew I had the perfect chance to capture a great environmental/behavioral portrait. This image has the maximum amount of crop I am comfortable with, right at 4000px on the long side. So going without the TC was the right decision after all, even it was pushing the distance. EM1 w/ 300/4 American Bittern 003 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr After getting thru that bit of vegetation he came to a stop and stood there perfectly still. I knew he was watching something by the pose he took so I framed the shot and waited. and waited..................... and waited..................... My L shaped position was only somewhat comfortable and laying there holding the camera in position and waiting for an extended period of time was not only uncomfortable but also very tiring. It was a full 8 minutes of waiting before he struck and I was able to capture this image of him catching a small minnow. This image has slightly less crop than the image above, it's cropped to 4120px on the long side. EM1 w/ 300/4 American Bittern 004 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I was surprised when after catching the minnow he moved right out into the open. But now I was back at the same problem I had earlier with using the TC. He was going to be to close for full body shots. Normally I am fine with this and will just switch over to doing really tight shots since I am still after a photograph of a birds head and it's catch filling the frame. But the uncomfortable shooting position was going to make framing such a shot almost impossible. So I decided to risk crawling back up the bank to my backpack where my 2nd EM1 with the amazing ZD 150mm f2.0 attached was. I was able to get up there and get the camera and back into position without spooking the Bittern. When I got back into position I realized he was still a bit farther out than I wanted to be shooting the bare 150/2 and I didn't grab the EC-14. Didn't want to risk moving back up to get the TC because he had moved even closer, was about 25 feet away at this point. So I just went with it and started shooting with the bare 150/2. It was about 15 minutes since the last photograph when he caught this crawfish. This image made it to Explore on Flickr today, so that made me happy since it is one of my favorite American Bittern captures to date. Because of the distance and only shooting with an effective 300mm focal length this photograph has what is for me an extreme crop (down to 3700px on the long side). The 150/2 has enough resolution to withstand this much crop and will still print 30 inches on the long side with the quality I require from my images. I will just not be able to offer it in my largest size of 40 inches long. EM1 w/ 150/2 American Bittern 001 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr He eventually turned sideways to me and I was able to capture this nice profile portrait of him. This image also has a extreme crop to only 3700px on the long side. EM1 w/ 150/2 American Bittern 005 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I still had the MC-14 in my pocket, so while waiting for some action I put it on the 300/4 to capture some close-up portraits of him. For me the two camera/lens combo of the 300/4 and 150/2 is the best two camera combo I have ever used for wildlife photography. There is nothing I can't shoot with these two lenses. What I really like about using them together is I can get close enough for full body shots with the 150/2 and use the 300/4 for tight close-up portraits. This isn't the best image. It is shot from behind with the bird looking away, is at my high ISO limit for wildlife photography, because of the higher ISO it loses detail and really only has the eye in focus. But............................ There is just something that appeals to me about it. For me it gives the impression of wondering what he is looking at or thinking. Anyways.................. I really like the image and plan to print it on some alternative media, something I have been working on this month (why I haven't been posting much lately) now that I have my Epson P800 printer. Hopefully here in the next few weeks I will be able to share some of this alternative printing that I am working on. This image has about 50px crop because my OCD forced me to line it up perfectly. So basically it has no crop. EM1 w/ 300/4 + MC-14 American Bittern 002 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I do hope you enjoyed the story as well as the photographs and maybe even learned something in the process. As always, any and all comments are welcomed. Regards, Phocal P.S. I want to add that even tho I was basically laying in the water of the swamp I wasn't really concerned about gators. First.............. When my dad was teaching me to shoot rifles he taught me to shoot with both eyes open and it's something I have carried over to my photography. So I am always looking for anything, especially gators when laying at the edge of the water. The entire area in front of me was also only about 6 inches deep and full of weeds. So there was no way a gator to get close without me seeing him and having plenty of time to move out of the way. My real concern was a Cottonmouth showing up since it has been warm the last week and they should be starting to come out.