A Painted Turtle is a great subject to practice wildlife shooting or to test new equipment, like I do right now with the new Nikon D750. If the turtles move, they move slowly (with one exception I will talk about in a minute), or they don’t move at all. The yellow lines on its head provide good contrast to lock on focus, which is important for a sharp image. And as a bonus, the turtles are always good for a unique gesture. The first one was not my sharpest shot of this critter but the gesture with the open mouth makes all the difference for me. It looks like the turtle is yawning, but what you don’t see in the first photo is a second turtle, just climbing up the log on the other end. Well, the meet and and greet on the log went well and after some butt sniffing (yes they do that like dogs!) both finally ended up taking a sun bath together.
You may think taking these shot is much easier than photograph a bird at the same distance, but this is not true. If the Painted Turtle senses danger, because you walk right up to them, they will drop into the water as fast as a bird will take off. The good thing is, most of the time, especially when the sun is shining, they will climb back up on the log again after a few minutes. The short break while they are in the water allows to establish a good shooting position near the log. If you are carefully and make your own moves as slow as a turtle ;-) , they may accept your presence and you get a second chance to make the click.
I switched back and forth between FX and DX crop mode on the D750 while shooting the action as just described. Full frame (FX mode) served very well to make the images with both turtles on the log. For isolating the turtle on the left, like in the first image, I used the DX crop mode. Back in the days of shooting slides on film, rule #1 for having a keeper was ‘Get it right in camera’. I enjoy photography as a form of art and as a craft. Get it right in camera is part of the craft.