It’s that time of year again, spring is here and with it comes the annual herring spawn.
All kinds of opportunities arise to photograph wildlife and birds in the areas where the fish are spawning. Find out where they are spawning then go and take a walk and enjoy the show! They spawn close to the shore, so the action isn’t too far off the beach. A reasonable camera zoom will allow you to take some great photos.
The spawn period only lasts for a few weeks, but in that time a great opportunity exists to see Orcas, Humpbacks, Eagles, Sea Lions and Seals, and all kinds of other birds.
One way to pick up on a hot spot is to look far large flocks of gulls, where you see them that’s where the herring are!. The ocean turns a turquoise white as they spawn as well, harder to see than the gulls. Listen for Sea Lions as well, another good indication herring are in the water.
Recently onlookers had the opportunity to watch a pod of Ocas hunt Sea Lions just off the beach. You never know what’s going to be seen!
If the herring fleet is close to your location you can watch dozens of boats as they work at catching their herring quotas.
It’s a beautiful time of the year, temperatures have warmed, blossoms everywhere, however there is something else that makes this time of the year unique! The Canadian Forces Snowbirds arrive for their annual spring training here in Comox. This year they arrived April 20 and will be here for about 4 weeks. They fly twice a day weather permitting, and they give anyone with a camera great opportunities to capture some amazing shots. Best places to watch from are Air Force beach and the Glacier Greens golf course entrance.
This year, the early session is 8:30am and the later session is 1:30pm. The best choice for photos is the morning one, as the sun will be lower on the horizon illuminating the planes more from the side than above. This gives great contrast and colour.
Taking your photos
Because they are so close, you don’t need huge lenses, cameras with moderate focal lengths work really well. A 70 – 200mm zoom is a really good one to use. Make sure you use a fast shutter speed to try and prevent blurring as they are moving extremely fast. Try not to use the automatic setting, use the shutter setting and set it at 1000 or higher. The lower your ISO setting the better to keep graining to a minimum. I try and keep the ISO at 200 and don’t use the automatic ISO setting. If its a nice day out it should be no problem. Don’t really worry about the F setting let the camera pick it for you when doing this.
If you do want to use a specific F stop the use the A (Aperture) setting but watch the shutter speed, it will not be sharp if its too slow. I usually stick with the S (Shutter) setting and keep the speed high. If you are using fast shutter speed and hold the camera steady your photos will be sharp and you don’t need a tripod. Practice how to hold your camera in the steadiest position for you.
To try something different, select a slower shutter speed and then pan (move the camera with the planes as they move) with them as you take the shot and with practice you can keep them sharp and give the feeling of speed! This doesn’t work well if they are a long way away, but when close it can be effective.
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