I'm in two minds about the recent trip, it wasn't the most successful trip, but there were a couple of nice images.
I've had a cold for the past few days and couldn't get up as early as I would have liked. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone at all, but I'd had enough of being inside and wanted to get out into the countryside.
I knew that I was going to be late for the sunrise, a point that was really clear as the sky started to light up and I still had an hour to drive. Nevertheless I wanted to get out for a while and see a few Chamois.
Last time I was at Hohneck a saw a group of chamois further along the cliffs so I decided to try a new parking spot and walk from there along the cliff top towards Hotel Hohneck.
At the cliffs I saw a solitary chamois in the distance, presumably male as they tend to be alone, but I was hoping to see a group with young, so I carried on.
Further down the track I came across another one, it was just down the slope towards the cliff on a small patch of snow. The angle wasn't great so I slowly backed up out of sight and walked around to try to get a better angle for an image. I moved towards an outcrop of rocks, but it didn't matter where I stood I just couldn't get an angle that worked. I then noticed some people further up the track taking pictures, although it was a lot further away at least I would be able to get an image from there. As I was about to leave a movement caught in the corner of my eye made me freeze.
Through a small gap between the rocks of the outcrop, branches of some larger shrubs and long grass I could see the group that I had hoped to find. What I could actually see was parts of the group, and I mean literally parts of the group. I could see a head, a body, back leg but not a whole chamois and not the whole group.
Unfortunately they had seen me too and were starting to get fidgety, so I didn't have a great deal of time, luckily though the 100-400 has a narrow field of view so I was able to concentrate the image at least to a certain extent, through the gap. With all of the rocks, branches and grass I had to manually focus.
I managed to get four images that I like and considering that these four images were all shot handheld at 800mm and manually focused, I'm very happy with the results. I was using a 100-400mm with a x2 tele-converter.
As you'll notice there are actually five images, but the first two are the same with a different crop factor. The first is 16x10 in portrait, the next three with an ratio very close to the xpan ratio, I think that I'm still under the influence of the GFX-50s (damn that magnificent Fujifilm camera ;o). On that note, I would like to see what the 250mm with the 1.4x tele- converter could have done here). The last image of this group is a simple 1:1 square.
The reason for cropping the images and the variation in ratio is partly down to the situation of shooting through the gap (which you can see in the image above), and shooting handheld. I found that the branches and rocks around the side quite disturbing in some of them, but it is also especially in the xpan ratio, because I felt that it fit best to the images.
This last image from the group demonstrates the issues I had with shooting through this small gap with grass across the left side and a rock in the bottom right corner, but rather than show these obstacles as an issue they add another level to the image that would not be there without it. Something hidden, something discovered, silence, a glimpse of a stolen moment between a heartbeat.
Soon after the last shot, the herd moved down the cliff to a place that I couldn't see. I moved back away from the drop and took a moment to look through the images to see if I had anything. I was already quite hopeful from what I saw on the screen.
With my head down looking in the viewer, I didn't notice another photographer walking up to me. I can't speak French, so these meetings usually end with a few hand signals, a smile, a nod, and possibly a thumbs up. Although being close to the border there is a high chance that people speak two or more languages. This person was German, so we struggled though with him speaking High German and me a very rough mix of High German and Swiss German, with a tendency towards Swiss!
While we were sharing stories and experiences, a chamois came over the hill in to the field of yellow flowers behind us. There was some expectation that the rest of the herd I'd just seen would follow but unfortunately this wasn't the case.
We also exchanged websites, so if you have a moment please go and check out his site too www.naturfotografie-waltermann.de and be sure to check out the Greifvögel section.
I've included the last image to show that the forecasts aren't always correct. According to the forecast at this time it was meant to be complete cloud cover and rain. When I was leaving it an hour later, there were storm clouds gathering, but if I'd have believed the forecast I may not have been sat here enjoying the fantastic view.
Aren't Mondays wonderful.