After photographing at Yaquina Head, I decided that it would be really cool if I could supplement those images with some extreme close-ups of some of the seabirds that live along the Oregon Coast. Of course, headshots of Tufted Puffins would be chief among these.
Where could I make images like this? The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, of course. There is an aviary there that allows amazing close views of Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers and Tufted Puffins.
I am not particularly a fan of photographing in a zoo like setting, however, can’t resist an opportunity like this, especially when I know of no other way to get anything remotely similar of these species.
My intent was for most of the images to not look like aviary images. How does one do this? It essentially comes down to moving in tight enough to eliminate the tell-tale elements. Thus, most of these shots are headshots, or nearly so. This was accomplished through using an extension tube on my 400mm f/2.8. Also I varied between no extender, my 2x extender and the 1.4x extender, depending on where my subject bird was. I usually shot around f/10. When doing a shot like these you are playing a balancing act between getting adequate depth of field given the magnification and the fact that a soft out of focus background will generally work much better.
In the end, I suggest don’t shoot in a zoo setting often, but at times it can be great.
Take a closer look at these seabird photos.