Yellowbilled Hornbills, Wide-angle View
Caption: A pair of Yellowbilled Hornbills (Tockus flavirostris), wide angle view, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Picture Details: I took this photograph of a pair of yellowbilled hornbills in Letaba Camp in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The birds in the camp are habituated to people, and will often hang around the bungalows in hopes of being fed a few scraps.
I scattered a handful of bread crumbs among some attractive winter leaves lying on the ground near our bungalow and waited for the birds to find these. Once a few starlings started snacking on the crumbs, other birds soon followed.
I placed my camera, a Canon 450D with Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens, on the ground facing towards the leaves with some trees in the background. After some experimentation, I used manual exposure to avoid the meter being fooled by the overcast but bright sky and set auto focus to all focus points. The lens was at 18mm, its widest, which is equivalent to around 28mm on a full-frame camera.
Using a wireless remote shutter release, I was able to stand a few meters away, partly behind a tree stump, to avoid intimidating the birds. After the glossy starlings had pecked around for a while, I was delighted when these two hornbills arrived. With their huge yellow bills and big eyes, they provided ideal subjects for the experiment.
I took a number of shots of the two of them and was very happy with the results – most were pretty sharp and the images gave a delightfully different view of the birds. In fact the prominent bills were sometimes exaggerated to near ridiculous proportions because of the wide angle of view and the subjects’ closeness to the lens.
I’ve digitally manipulated the above image, using software to remove some of the extraneous detail and “simplify” the picture, giving a more painterly effect.
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