The Sandhill Cranes of the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

Heading Out To See The Sandhill Cranes

I have had a weird history with the sandhill crane. Back when I was much younger and we would drive out to Colorado we would drive right through the Platte River area when the sandhill cranes were coming through. That is a big deal and people come from all over. When we stopped I was not impressed and I just wanted to ski. A few years ago I stumbled upon the cranes after leaving a Purdue football game. I was headed home when I saw them in the fields and went to investigate. I always said that I was going to go back, but that never happened. Yesterday I woke up early knowing everyone would sleep in, and I loaded up the car to see the cranes in person. I was not disappointed.

Getting The Lay of the Land

Photographing wildlife takes way more prep work than any sporting event does. I really don’t know much about the birds so I spent a good deal of time just watching them as well as making their photo. There are a lot of cranes on the property, and with my head in a 400mm lens with an extender on it I don’t get the full view. With a little knowledge under my belt it makes photographing the birds a little easier. You start to pick up on patterns that help you anticipate the action which as I have said many times on here is what helps you make a good image.

Staying Just Long Enough

As the action was dying down yesterday I had the thought of leaving. I did not see too many cranes coming into the field so I thought the show was over. As I was mulling over leaving the sandhill cranes in the back of the property suddenly all rose up and started flying my way. I started to shoot that event, but the cranes in the field closest to me started flying as well. About 3/4ths of the cranes on the grounds at the time were suddenly in the air. I was chaos. I decided to get in tight and find come cool pockets inside of that chaos. This was my favorite photo of the day, and I am glad that I stayed. As the birds calmed down they started landing in bigger groups as well, and that is how I made the second image of this post. In wildlife photography patience is the biggest tool you can have. Thankfully mine won out yesterday.

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