Out of photographs to post and amidst the wettest four-year period in Washington history, I decided it was time to retreat to drought-ridden California. Needless to say it was cloudy and rainy all the way to California. Hoping for better weather on our second day, we spent the night just outside the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. We even got to sleep in because it was so overcast that it was hard to tell the difference between night and morning, and it’s hard to get decent photos in the dark.

It was so dark and foggy I didn’t even bother to mount the 500mm lens with a doubler since it was impossible to focus on distant birds. This shot of a small flock of Greater White-Fronted Geese in the distance has actually been improved by adjusting levels in Lightroom,

but even Lightroom and Photoshop can’t totally compensate for a lack of light. Heck, if I hadn’t just driven 600+ miles for some sunshine, I might have been perfectly happy with the soft edges and muted colors. It was hard not to enjoy seeing flocks of these geese that I rarely see at home.

Luckily, the closer you get and the more you adjust in Lightroom and Photoshop, the better the shots look.

It looks as bright in these shots as it did in real-life, if not a little brighter.

Trying to focus on close-up objects because of fog or low-light conditions creates its own problems. You have a real narrow focus range; even though these geese were fairly close together only the two at the right were in sharp focus,

and there’s no way to correct that.

The biggest problem for me, though, is that you have to use a lower shutter speed under low-light conditions and that makes it impossible to freeze birds in flight. Even panning it’s impossible to avoid the blur in the wings,

which seems to be real no-no in wildlife photography — even if that is how the human eye perceives the wings in in flight. Personally, I waver between the two and often prefer the blur of wings, at least when I get to choose what I want it to look like.

I was happy to see many birds I’d looked forward to seeing since our last visit, even if I wasn’t entirely happy with the weather conditions. There was no denying, though, that the area needed some rain because the refuge is dependent on rain to function.

I’m (always/generally/sometimes) (un)willing to sacrifice my personal comfort for the greater good.

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