Jeffrey Pawlan  


Chameleon Catching Food by Jeffrey Pawlan

November 2020 - Chameleon Catching Food

About the Image(s)

This is an Oustalet Chameleon catching food. It is found only in Madagascar.
camera: D750 with early Nikon zoom lens set to 70mm
taken at 1/1000 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200


This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted




Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
In my opinion you have captured one of those rare, once in a lifetime images with the reptile striking its prey. Capturing this in the wild is not easy. You do not indicate exactly which zoom lens you were working with and I would be interested in knowing as I am a long time Nikon user.

Judging from your settings you seem to have had an issue with light. Your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the action but your depth of field is so shallow at F2.8 that the tongue is rendered as just a blur. Since it is such a prominent part of the image I feel it is a bit of a distraction. I realize it is hard to make adjustments in the field when action is happening this quickly but for future reference may I suggest trying to capture this type of shot in more of a profile. Doing so would help solve that DOF issue. Of course, if you wanted to capture the reptile coming at the camera, then you did it the right way and the blur will just have to be accepted as part of the action. I would like to hear your thoughts on these angles.

I wish you had included the original image as there appears to be some ghosting on the branch to the left of the reptile that may well be due to some processing issues.   Posted: 11/13/2020 15:00:14



Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
Dear Larry,

It is interesting that your comment was the only one on my image this month and none of the other members of group 94 commented. To answer your question about which lens, I had to look it up as I had sold it to buy the current generation. The one that I used for this photo was the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S ZOOM-NIKKOR (1999-2007).
Had I included the original image, the moderator would have reduced the size of my presented image. I will look at the original later but my opinion of the branch ghosting on the left is that was actually out of focus. I also find that all zoom lenses have chromatic aberration which becomes apparent on bright light shining through the leaves.
I was in the right place and the right time to take this one very special photo of the chameleon's tongue lashing out and then disappearing back in his mouth in much less than a second. I did not have the opportunity to either adjust the ISO so I could increase the f-stop nor could I get to the side of the branch to take a side view. With my current cameras is is much easier. So I am sad that I had no depth of field. At least the branch and the chameleon were very sharp. I did not have the fortune to see this or any other chameleon using its tongue again.


  Posted: 11/13/2020 17:07:10
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
The old Nikkor 24-70 was a very sweet lens and quite sharp. I shot one for years. Personally I like the old lens better than the new. I really have no need for the VR function. If my shutter speed is that slow, I'm on a tripod. But that is just me.
As for submitting images. According to the guidelines you can resize the original image (it must me less than 1MB) and then you can resize your edited version of the original (it must also be less than 1MB) and submit them both with your write up. Sherri will be able to post both. The group admin doesn't do the resizing, that is left to the maker of the image.

The ghosting on your image bothered me because the shutter speed should have frozen movement and out of focus is generally just a continuous blur. That was why I asked about the original. Inquiring minds just want to know.

I found it interesting that you shot at f2.8. That is going to produce shallow DOF something I don't generally do with wildlife unless they are at infinity. I see way too many images with the critter only being partly in focus. Granted if the photographer is being creative that works but generally images need DOF sharpness so my ISO goes up and so does my aperture. Your D750 can certainly handle higher ISO ratings.

Just for discussion purposes I shoot most wildlife on my D810 and D850 in manual mode with auto-ISO set to allow a maximum of 1600. That way I can walk with my preferred shutter speed and aperture for any potential situation that may arise and the camera will adjust the ISO so I can get the shot. Just my approach but to each their own. All that matters is the final image.

You asked to see my images you can drop by Group 36 and 67 and see them their or my website Reminisces.smugmug.com   Posted: 11/13/2020 20:36:18
Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
I sold the D750 after I finally received the D850. Later when I was trying to shoot birds in flight with the Nikon D850 paired with a AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR, I found the D850 focusing system was not fast enough. So I now use the D850 with nothing larger than a 70-200. I bought a used D5 to use with the big Nikon lens and it always works.
With these newer bodies I now always use floating ISO with fixed F stop and shutter speeds of my choice. I only use fully open aperatures when either the light is extremely low such as pre-dawn in Kenya, or when I want a large amount of bokeh. I was using f/2.8 when I was looking for chameleons because I wanted to defocus the leaves and branches. I did not expect the chameleon's tongue to come out so far when I saw him eyeing a bug.
  Posted: 11/14/2020 10:36:15
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
A very interesting comment about the d850 not focusing fast. Last March, just before covid, I was hired by the Florida Wildlife Bureau to photograph eagles nesting on a lake I am not allowed to name. I photographed eagle vs. osprey in flight battles with the D850 and my 200-400 f4. I was chasing diving eagles and had no problem obtaining focus. I did have to hand hold my rig, in a rocking boat for several hours and my arms felt like lead,but the photos were fine. I did use shutter speeds between 1/2000 &1/2500 and shot in burst mode with auto-ISO. When shooting landscapes I'm looking for depth of field and now with the D850 I'm even shooting landscapes using focus stack.

I almost never use my 24-70 lens wide open unless I'm shooting the Milky Way or stars. I generally need more DOF for my subjects.   Posted: 11/14/2020 16:22:19



Sherry Icardi   Sherry Icardi
Sorry, I have been a little delayed, my PC has been giving me problems. I made the mistake of updating to Big Sur and had many things to clean up.

Larry has given some excellent suggestions. I very much like the way you framed it with the tree trunk acting as a leading line, but I find the tongue blur very distracting. I recognize this was a once in a life time shot so it will always remind you of that uniqueness. I have quite a few like that.

I'd also like to add something about the d850. I agree it is too slow for birds in flight unless you add the grip with an extra battery. I can't manage that ergonomically so ended up purchasing the D500 for BIF and subsequently the Sony 7rIV. I use both The grip adds significant weight and increases the profile of the camera as well. I still use my D850 but predominantly for landscapes. So I'm wondering if Larry was using one with a grip which would explain the difference in speed perception.   Posted: 11/16/2020 10:56:07



Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
Regarding the D850 with the grip and bigger battery: this only increases the continuous shooting speed. It does not improve the focusing. I did buy one but don't use it. The D5 and now D6 have a separate processor chip just for focusing. That is in addition to the regular chip that does the exposure and controls the camera. That is why those two cameras have such fast focusing. They are made for the sports photography market.

My photo above was taken with a D750 and again, I had only this one opportunity to catch a photo of the tongue.
  Posted: 11/16/2020 13:22:25
Sherry Icardi   Sherry Icardi
Totally understand, kind of like my dolphins that had some blown out wake. The dolphins were clean and sharp but the wake was blown out. Not likely to get that shot again, so I live with what I've got and happy to have that. Great memories for me because I love dolphins.

And for the D5 and D6 they are just way to big for my hand and weigh too much :(.   Posted: 11/17/2020 08:34:08



David Henderson   David Henderson
Hi Jeffery just read all the above comments and cannot add anything more other than maybe buy a canon.   Posted: 11/21/2020 23:23:34