Yellowstone: avoiding the tourists (pays off!) and hand-holding the Nikon 600mm f/4E FL super telephoto lens

After my adventure with the snowy bisons I had another stroke of luck the following day; this time with a black bear. Actually it wasn’t all that perfect as already quite a few tourists had spotted the bear and a handful of photographers were having a ball shooting. I usually tend to avoid the crowds so I left after getting a couple of shots; more on that in my next posts.

The following day I asked myself ‘I wonder if that bear is still out there?’. So I went to the very same spot as the day before, and there were no tourists, and no bear. While I was walking around listening to the sound of the wind I suddenly noticed some movement in the trees: a deer was looking straight at me. It walked on a little more when it stopped on a small ledge and just kept staring at me as if I was from a different planet. It gave me quite the time to setup, compose, focus and everything else correctly, so I managed to (finally) get some shots I had in mind – which doesn’t happen often. For a wildlife photographer avoiding the tourists can sometimes pay off…

‘Good morning :)’
Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D850, f/4, 1/800 s., ISO 720, 0EV exp. comp., hand-held

The big advantage of not bringing a tripod on your photoshoots is mobility. The big disadvantage is… sore muscles. A Nikon 600mm super telephoto lens will get you the most amazing shots, but it takes a little practice to hand-hold that monster for an extended period of time. A couple of seconds is fine, but if you’re in a situation where you’re attempting to shoot wildlife portraits and you keep going for a couple of minutes, it’s a different story. Which was the case with Mr(s) Deer above.

Nonetheless, I hardly use my tripod anymore and for me the added mobility outweighs the stress of having to hand-hold such a large and heavy lens. Also, the more you practice the easier, or perhaps better said ‘less stressful’ it becomes.

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