Il heart of a chamois it can go up to 600 beats per minute. Its powerful yet fluid muscles seem to be made for running and climbing. Solidly planted on sturdy legs and strong hooves it is a true miracle of adaptation to the harsh mountain habitat. Stretched like a bow, vibrating with a large reservoir of available power, he evokes sheer speed and strength, even when at rest. Faced with its dazzling starts from the snow, its braked stops on the four hooves, its jumps where it seems to barely touch the ground, and above all in the face of the incomparable elegance of its gallop, it is tempting to talk about lightness and speed. L'elegance and force in fact, they arise from the harmony between the lines and the volume: from all this results a profound harmony between the possibilities of the chamois and its life needs. Hunters and nature photographers know this well, they never approach a chamois with the wind behind them and don't even move a stone with their boots; fewer strategy 'problems', on the other hand, for i digiscopers, who can stay 'out of scene' and capture good photographic images even at a long distance. Still motionless until the moment in which the escape distance is not broken, in fact, the chamois does not hesitate to move, with a light escape, which stops only for a short - inevitable - stop to control the situation. After, we can see him engaged in full gallop of fear. A firework.
Al mountain digiscoper, it is the not easy task of grasping all these things. And most importantly, the moist nose, eyes, permanent horn rings and expressions of this extraordinary ungulate. But not only that: on many occasions, digisoping also allows us to count the years of the chamois - in life - sometimes without even pushing the zoom of the long to the maximum values.
During our last chamois work-shops, we tried to capture these magic in a file. We did it with the long Swarovski Optic ATX95, brought to a zoom never exceeding 40x and combined from time to time (through the TLSAPO30) to one DX reflex and to one MirrorLess accompanied by a very bright fixed wide angle. The first impression, without report cards but in simple compatible tests is that the two different cameras offer more or less the same results. This certainly appears to be an important fact, which confirms that - in Digiscoping as with super telephones - the qualitative difference depends almost exclusively on the 'lens' and not on the body of the camera used. Both cameras work in RAW / NEF and have a very similar shutter / aperture ratio. The true, fundamental, difference is in the operational phase: the Mirror Less is more versatile and faster; less fast and immediate the reflex. The MirroLess, which holds its own target, can take advantage of automatisms and uses a kind of Autofocus - on the second lens of the long -; the reflex must work in Manual both as regards the exposure times (the aperture is fixed, not adjustable), and for the focus, to be done in the long run and to be controlled, even with virtual zoom, in the viewfinder or in LiveVIew.
The choice, therefore, is absolutely personal. Of course: we made excellent images with both cameras, and the Mirror responded with an adaptability beyond all expectations, but we realized that those who look at a photograph of a chamois, do not care about the photographic system and / or the lens that created it. The most important thing, in fact, is that the photo "you speak". Regardless of focal lengths and crops, it is essential to capture the eyes, the wet nose, the expression of this alpine wild. In this way, the only difference between the telescope and the super-telescope, is not so much the magnification of the subject in the final image, but the depth of field: wide with the super telescope (even at the widest apertures), it offers backgrounds legible; very small with the fixed aperture of the telescope, however, allows that great effect of isolating the subject from a deliberately difficult to read background. Of course: in digiscoping, the focus it must be extremely accurate (sometimes, with frontal subject, until the muzzle is in focus and the back is a little blurred), but being able to stay out of the scene, at a distance, and have calm subjects, frontal and not fleeing, represents an "advantage" for us indispensable with wild animals.
On photographic strategies with chamois, there is little to say to hunters: these are practically the same ones to face when hunting (and, perhaps, it is more difficult to make a good photo, rather than a perfect shot). The "follies" of loves, between end of autumn and the onset of winter is the best time with chamois; yellow larches and few contrasts between high and low lights facilitate exposure. In winter and at the beginning of the year, the chamois still wear the warm and elegant dark winter coat. With the arrival of snow, the large herds, formed for the mating season, begin to melt. Males no longer fight each other. The young, no longer troubled by the indifference of the mother during the love affairs, regain their place following the maternal protection. The most frequent encounter, now, is of small branches of females and young chamois, with the total exclusion of adult males. These have done their reproductive duty and prefer to stay in peace somewhere else. Few flocks and a few isolated heads persist in remaining among the mountain pastures at high altitude, faithful to their shed among the most inaccessible rocks, or near the ridges from which the icy wind sweeps the snow and discovers the frozen grass that crunches under their teeth. February it is the most terrible month in the mountains. The month when all hope seems to have left the earth; the month in which hunger cries too high, towards the valley, towards the areas that limit the fields of men, with the abominable smell of smoking chimneys and fertilizers that transpire in the cold, in front of the huts.
From a photographic point of view, the presence of INFO (which acts as a backdrop for wild animals with very dark fur) requires exposure spot, which selectively detects the light coming from the chamois, ignoring the highlights of the snow. It can be done - both with the reflex and with the Mirror - by raising the exposure times by at least two stops and 'ignoring' the strong brightness of the white blanket. TO March, the days begin to get longer. But the cold and frost are still the masters. On some days, however, a vague hint of spring spreads in the air: these are those rare days when the low sky no longer weighs on the dead earth and hope awakens in the hearts and bodies of free animals. . In a few nights, then, it rained in the forest and on the mountain pastures: this is enough to start flooding the winter. Every day, now, and every day more, the snow begins to melt. The trees of the forest begin to coat themselves with leaves and the first green grass reappears on the ground: this is too strong a call for chamois exhausted by the long winter. Spring is coming, the long-awaited one spring. In this scent of new grass, which the animals "feel" perhaps even before seeing, the chamois do not hesitate to throw themselves into the valley. The call of the new grass makes them more courageous. For the digiscopers this period is certainly very favorable. The experience then teaches animals and humans to attend all the southern slopes with assiduity, where the sun melts the snow first every day, warmer. On these slopes, there are always clearings where exposure to the sun lasts until almost sunset. It is not difficult to locate these precise areas: the encounter with the animals is guaranteed, even when all around the snow dominates the landscape. Good light everyone!