Sam the Squirrel / by Conor Cunningham

An afternoon spent aimlessly looking for owls was not all in vain. Frognerpark's the English Garden has come to life with the arrival of spring. Numerous nesting birds had set up shop along with the smaller birds of the forest.

Not long before I gave up searching for the owls, I spotted a squirrel racing up a tree.

Eurasion Red Squirrel. 200mm, IS0 200, f/2.8 1/1000 sec

Photographing this wee one wasn't the easiest. The sun was off to camera right and low in the sky. The squirrel ( from now on known as Sam ) was dashing between the trees at great speed so a fast shutter speed was required. Throw in branches and shadows to boot and getting the right settings along with tracking Sam was tricky. Given the lighting situation and the speed of the subject, manual mode was out. I set the camera to AV and put the camera at f/2.8 for maximum light (not to mention bokeh) and a higher shutter speed (helped in addition by ISO 200).

Sam ready to jump. Completely missed the next few action shots. 200mm, IS0 200, f/2.8 1/1000 sec

I tried to get some action shots, but they were largely in vain. My reaction time was poor and tracking the object between so many branches was tricky. I was also a country mile below Sam with a maximum focal length of 200mm. I have a longer 300mm f/5.6 lense but it is too slow to focus in such situations I find. The Canon 70 - 200 f/2.8 IS II USM is cracking for fast focus. I'd love a prime 400mm, 500mm or 600mm, so if you're buying me a Christmas present early this year, you know what to do.

A slightly out of focus Sam. Photographer was a bit wobbly. 200mm, IS0 200, f/2.8 1/1000 sec

Finally Sam sat down with his prized acorn and gobbled it up in front of me. He seemed to enjoy it and quite at ease with me taking his picture.

Sam the squirrel enjoying its evening meal. 200mm, IS0 200, f/2.8 1/1000 sec