Same place in Poland as on my previous FH Cranes blog; same excellent guidance of Lukasz Boch and Marcin Baranowski (www.elizjumbb.com) and same equipment to do the job from Mr. Jan Gear (www.mrjangear.com)
With regard to my own equipment this time I brought a 300mm 2,8 because the 500mm I used before proved to be too long most of the time. Also in these extreme light conditions in the very early morning the lens opening of 2,8 is of much more value than the mm's.
It was one month later and I knew that the excellent circumstances from the earlier trip could not be equalled. We had good light then, sunrise and fog every day. This time it would be cloudy and grey, no sunrise and no fog. And also much colder: the water temperature had droppen from 20° to a mere 8°! Morning temperature from 15° to 6°! And the water level had risen so I had to be very careful and follow the footsteps of my guide in the water meticulously.
I had 3 early morning floating hide sessions and I spend 2 night amid the cranes in a bivy.
It is hard work but so exciting and unique. With the floating hides in the water when it is still dark I follow Marcin or Lukasz. Sometimes in deeper water. but often crawling on the knees and always slow and silent. You hear cranes in the distance but you are coming closer, sometimes you see silhouettes and you hear the cranes getting more nervous, but you slow down and settle yourselves in a good position, you are close without disturbing them; the cranes get more silent and you wait for the first light.
The other way to get these extraordinary photo opportunities is spending the night with the cranes. That is done in a bivy. As you know the cranes arrive at the roosting spots in the late afternoon and they leave at sunrise. But already in the early afternoon cranes come over to check where the safe and adequate spots for the night are; so you must be inside the heavily camouflaged bivy before that, which means that you are in the bivy from noon till the next morning! This is crazy, why do I do this? Well the experience is unsurpassed, you are off the planet, you are amid the cranes; they are not aware of your presence (if you behave!) and they go around with their business: dancing, playing, calling, watching and sleeping. I only sleep short periods because you do not stop listening to them and you try to estimate the numbers arriving during the night and you hope they will still be there when the light comes, close enough.
And I know that this is an emotional choice but the pictures I have made from sleeping cranes are of great value to me; sleeping cranes, you don't get to see this easily, they are always on the watch, so this was a rare and heartwarming occasion for me.
So here is the rest of the pictures:
Enjoy and unto the next.