Eastern Chipmunk

The Eastern Chipmunks that call our yard and the surrounding timber home are a great subject for testing and learning everything about the new Nikon D750. They are used to my presence and as long as I move slowly they stick around and do what they want to do (mostly eating sunflower seeds dropped from the bird feeders ;-)  ). 

During the first two weeks since I bought the camera I pressed the shutter release button more than 3,000 times already. No, this camera is not more complicated than my beloved Nikon D300s, in fact many functions are identical or very similar, but I like to implement some of the new features into my shooting habits. One of the reasons I chose the D750 is its professional controls. Unfortunately it has some features a pro would probably never use, and neither will I, but it is easy to ignore them. However, this camera allows to control and change all the important settings, like aperture, exposure, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, focus mode, focus sensors, flash compensation, virtual horizon, and others without taking the eye away from the viewfinder. It lets you customize the way many of the controls and buttons act, and this is where the “fun” starts. It is ok if I miss a shot of a chipmunk or one of the birds that we have here all year long. But how about if you see a bird or critter that is here only once a year and your chance to nail the shot lasts less than two seconds (like with the Scarlet Tanager from yesterday’s blog post)? Well, this is the moment when you don’t want to fiddle with your settings. The technical aspects have to become secondary because composition and background is what matters at this brief moment. If you know and understand the settings you have dialed in while waiting for a shot, it is easy to make a quick adjustment at the camera if the situation requires it. And that’s why I try to practice on a daily base, and it doesn’t matter to me if it is an “ordinary” critter like our chipmunks or squirrels

Nikon D750, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM, tripod, gimbal head, SB 800 speed light

The first image is my favorite photo of an Eastern Chipmunk so far. It has everything I wanted. It tells the story about the critter eating in the grass below a bird feeder (nothing exciting but that’s what they do in spring after a long winter). The eye is tack sharp and the settings (1/125 s, f/8, ISO 100, FX mode, no crop) would allow for a large print without any compromise.

The second picture is the result of a situation which unfolded very quickly. While focussing on a bird I suddenly saw the chipmunk climbing up this stick in our flower bed. The flowers were obviously the dessert, because in the following photo one of the blossoms is missing. Turning the camera on tripod into a different direction, refocus, and make an adjustment to flash compensation was all necessary to make the click. The photo was cropped in post on the right hand side, not because I wasn’t close enough, but on the left hand side is a bush that would have knocked off the balance of the composition. Taking out some empty space on the right is a good compromise in my books.