I'm rather pleased with this new photograph of mine showing two cock pheasants knocking seven bells* out of each other.
It was taken in a country lane on the pretty Cowal Peninsula in Argyll & Bute during my recent photographic trip. I came round a corner in the car and there they were, right in the narrow road, squaring up.
I stopped as quickly as I could and first grabbed my D3s. On trips like that I normally have both the Nikon and Olympus ready, one with a 24-70mm zoom on for close and middle shots and the other with the superb 50-200mm Zuiko and 2x teleconverter for as much reach as I can muster in case it's needed (at full stretch it's the full frame equivalent of almost 800mm/f7).
I got off a few shots through the windscreen with the Nikon. Here's the scene:
I then switched to the E3 and took a few more, before carefully opening the driver's door and getting the lens into the angle. It was a very quiet lane and it was safe to stop right where I was. I checked the camera settings, upping the ISO to 1000 which was giving me about 1/500th speed on a fairly wide aperture.
The birds seemed oblivious: eyeballing each other, strutting and circling, occasionally rushing - and then every now and then having a full-blown dust-up. These actual physical encounters were momentary and of course as the shutter fires, you can't see the image briefly.
I was excited when I knew I'd taken a great shot as they both jumped several feet into the air, claws out, wings flapping. Fantastic!
Or not. Imagine my disappointment when I checked afterwards and found this:
As I was pressing the shutter release they had jumped above my framing! Ho hum. You learn something every day.
Still, I did also get the marvellous one above. In fact it's the better image I think, on reflection, because their tussle was so quick - such a blur of fluttering feathers - that it is only in the stilled moment that I could see that one of them had turned completely upside down.
So, maybe fate was looking out for me after all.
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* Where does that expression come from I wonder?