Photo hunt with the SP 150-600mm G2

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Photo hunt with the SP 150-600mm G2

Tamron introduced the SP 150-600mm F / 5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 at the photokina. The powerful zoom objective sets new standards in telephotography. Nature photographer Alexander Ahrenhold was one of the first to go on a photo hunt with the brand new Ultra-Telezoom.

For outsiders it is a surreal sight: An adult lies on the edge of a freshly mown meadow and rubs a piece of styrofoam onto his rubber boots. The actor is Alexander Ahrenhold, who imitates the squeaks of a mouse through the squeaking sound. He is not very concerned about surprised looks, but just before dawn, strollers are rarely seen. The curious presentation nevertheless has its audience, foxes to be exact. They know that the small rodents are easy prey in the short grass. That it is a photographer today, towards whom he runs purposefully, the fox only notices when Alexander's camera has already caught him several times. These are such extraordinary pictures that all the professionals are keen on. Therefore, they help a little and try to influence the behaviour of the animals. "But you may not exaggerate this," explains Alexander. "Feeding game or scaring birds from the nest with dummies is going rather too far for me." 

Alexander photographed the fox with the new SP 150-600mm F / 5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 , the new generation of high-performance ultra-telezoomobjective from Tamron. It was officially introduced for the first time at photokina 2016 in Cologne and compared to its predecessor, it offers a number of interesting features also for the animal photographer, such as faster autofocus, improved VC image stabiliser, excellent sharpness and an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod clamp.

Sly foxes at dawn

A successful animal photographer knows not only the behaviour of the animals well, but also the environment where he wants to go photo stalking, as well as the weather conditions: From which side the wind blows, is decisive if and when the animal can sense the photographer. In addition, light and image background must also fit.

Alexander therefore explores the terrain extensively the night before, sometimes to get up at two o'clock in the morning and sit down in the car, only to be ready to click in his hiding-place before sunrise. However, success is not yet guaranteed. "Sometimes you wait for hours and then the fox still turns around after the first release. Then I can pack up, because the cunning four-legged animal will not show up again here today. "

Animal photographers usually have a special protagonist in their sight, for whom they are preparingexplicitly: "I am already looking for inhabited fox dens in April. I look around for nibbled woods and small footprints”, says Alexander. When he has found a suitable den, he is on the lookout in the grey of the morning and waits patiently for the young animals to come out to play. "They are usually not yet very shy," said Alexander, "so I can approach them comparatively closely."

Does, bucks and fawn- a family idyll at the edge of the forest

Fawns and doe – young deer and its mum – also communicate through whimpering, they often clarify mutually whether the other one is still close. Alexander also imitates this quite simply by whistling cautiously on a blade of grass while sitting in a grainfield: "Since I can’t always get an express permission from the farmer, I take great care not to break anything and always follow the tractor lanes. Otherwise, I would also cause too much noise by rustling". Suddenly the deer emerges from the wheat, jumps off even before Alexander can implement the planned portrait. Still, he keeps on it - and gets a photogenic shot of the animal hurrying away, which he likes very much.

He can alsolure the proud fatherwith the grass whistle in summer during the mating season. He will be quickly pissed off, as he thinks that a competitor would be having it off with his girls on his territory. In this way, the photographer can even persuade a buck run straight towards him. With such "attacks", the autofocus has to work reliably, as the recording distance decreases rapidly within fractions of a second. The new SP 150-600 from Tamron has mastered this task perfectly. Alexander particularly likes the focus limitation, which is available for the first time in the second generation of the Telezoom. This means that the focus again reaches faster, since it does not have to go through the entire focus area.

Alexander also sees the possibility to lock any set focal range as positive: "The lock prevents me from accidentally adjusting the focal distance, for example, if I get caught somewhere with the lens screen".

NIKON D810 | 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 | Brennweite 600 mm | Verschlusszeit 1/800 Sek. | Blende 6.3 | ISO 800

Well camouflaged in the hiding place

From time to time you can see pictures of animal photographers, whichappear quite martial, and which remind you rather of foreign legionnaires than photographers. Alexander, too, slips into his camouflage clothes now and again. "Most of the time, however, only to hide from people who do not come to me then and ask curiously what I am doing there and thus scare away all protagonists." But it is also important with birds to try to melt into the environment as much as possible. Of course, there are exceptions: on the beach for example, the birds are so accustomed to people, that it is best if you look like all other tourists.

This has also been the case for Alexander in Helgoland, where he found a motif in the wading birds, where the new Tamron SP 150-600mm G2 was able to fully exploit its advantages. Because the small beach runners demanded autofocus, VC stabiliser and imaging performance to a special extent. "They are so fast that you have to practice many times, even with a first-classtelezoom like the new 150-600 from Tamron, until you get the right speed and a sharp picture." The three new VC modes of the SP 150-600mm G2 were practical hereby: The image stabilisation can be adapted to the camera, depending on how the motif moves.

Speed is everything

When the light decreased in the evening hours, the new VC image stabilizer again performed first-class work: Alexander was thus able to take sharp photos of the small sanderlings without a tripod. "Likewise, the autofocus must be very fast, if such a bird runs towards you", which was also not a problem according to Alexander. Since the birds are only about the size of a blackbird, they must reach a within a few metres, until he can shoot them well. This is hard work for the autofocus, but which the SP 150-600mm G2 did not notice. Almost every image was a hit! A further prerequisite for such shots is a low close-up limit. According to Alexander, it is ideal that the second generation of the SP 150-600mm now offers a minimum recording distance of only 220 centimetres.

However, the photographer used a tripod and mode II of the VC image stabilizer for flying images of boobies. This only compensates for the vertical movements and ignores the intended horizontal pulling movement of the camera. Alexander can thus realise beautiful flight photographs, in which the birds are seen sharp against a background blurred in motion blur. When a beach runner scene spontaneously offers itself, which he absolutely wants to photograph, the camera and the objective are quickly detached from the tripod thanks to the precise Arca-Swiss-compatible clamp and re-fastened just as quickly. If the change between manual and tripod operation would last only a little longer, many of the animal protagonists would have passed without beingphotographed.

After the photo tours in the native meadows in the lowlands of Lower Saxony and the wild offshore island Helgoland, Alexander still has a lot of projects, as he did not get everything in front of the lens: wolf or lynx are for example still missing, and he also wants to take photos of ibexes and chamois be in the Alps as soon as possible with the Tamron 150-600mm G2.

About the author: Alexander Ahrenhold

Alexander Ahrenhold, Jahrgang 1989, wuchs in Eckernförde an der Ostsee auf. Sein Vater war Förster, so dass er schon in jungen Jahren viel draußen unterwegs war und eine große Liebe zur Natur entwickelte. So war es nur folgerichtig, dass er sich als Fotograf auch auf die Themen Landschaft und Tierwelt spezialisiert hat. 

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