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Your Daily Bridge. August 13, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I just can’t stay off of that damned thing!

But this particular visit to the Bridge of Flowers in nearby Shelburne Falls was a furthering of my investigations of the combination of my 400mm Gizmo and a Canon 2X tele-extender.

The combo is cumbersome, shaky and slow – the auto-focus on my 5D Mark II doesn’t work in this configuration, and the 2X closes the maximum aperture by two stops, leaving me with a max ap of f/11, which makes hand holding difficult for this shaky old relic. I addressed that problem with a monopod collapsed short and canted against my thigh in a kneeling position. It made for wet knees on a dewey morning…

Hey, one does what one must to get that shot!  😉

So, the results:

People can be photographed from enough of a distance to not be self-conscious – here gardener Carol works to keep things beautiful:

Thanks, Carol!  😉

The tele-extender doubles the magnification of my 400mm Gizmo without increasing the minimum focusing distance. Glads from just over twelve feet:

Crisp focus is difficult with 800mm hand-held, and nearly impossible for these hands with a twirling subject:

…but she was too darling to not include in this post. God bless the children!  🙂

I did better with stationary subjects like dahlias:

The effect is nearly macro-like, with a peek-a-boo look which brings a viewer into the scene, or so it seems to me…

…and the depth of focus includes the entirety of a blossom while utterly excluding the background:

This is exactly what I was hoping for from this visit: find the strengths, isolate the weaknesses and develop strategies to contend with them.

I’m pleased.

More From The Rookery. April 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I went back to Wendell for another whack at photographing the heron rookery my friend Lizz told me about, this time arriving around 8am to get the light on  rather than behind  the birds.

Well, as these things are wont to happen, the weather didn’t quite cooperate; even when there was blue sky behind the objects of my affection, the sun was screened through a moving mat of high and ever-thickening clouds.  I spent three hours trying, but left knowing that I’d be back for more goes at this magical tableau.

The rookery is in a stand of dead trees in a beaver-flooded hollow:

I counted at least a dozen nests, some not evident until a croaking heron circled and landed, or took off from something much less evident than this one:

Thanks for the help, guys!

And I say “guys” because most of the nests which were close enough to observe had a sitting bird, which I’m assuming is female and incubating eggs (as they almost never  left their nests,) and a standing  bird, who seemed to be watching their environ by quadrants, either for danger or opportunity:

I could almost hear the conversation as they interacted: “Heads down*, Alice, I’m goin’ out to get lunch.”  “Ralph, you’re always  going out to get lunch!”

* Herons never say “duck,” as they consider that to be fowl language.

Anyway, my objective for the day (besides getting shots of front-lit herons) was to try to get herons in flight.  This is a big leap for me, as Gizmo is a 400mm lens without image stabilization, meaning any movement of the lens (including touching it) blurs the photo, so tracking birds, even with a tripod, is out.  Add to that the sorry fact that for many of these shots I was using a 2X tele-extender which  a) slows the shutter speed by two full stops,  b) magnifies the shake inherent in touching the camera and  c) makes the lens’ auto-focus inoperable, and I had a situation where I had to  a) boot the ISO up substantially,  b) pre-aim the camera, guessing where my flying subject would be, and shoot with a cable release so I didn’t have to touch the camera, and  c) pre-focus on God-knows-what and hope something good would come of it.

So here, against all odds, are the results.

A trio of “guard” herons, with one taking flight:

Obviously, I hadn’t guessed correctly which bird would “chicken” first.  Oh well.

Here’s one preparing for take-off, posing as a Buick hood ornament:

Good one, Bird!

…Then, launching into flight:

That’s an impressive wing-span there!

And lastly, the same bird returning to its roost, playing Night-time, Daytime:

I find the feather separation on the up-flap impressive, and marvel at the engineering inherent in such an organic design.

Anyway, that’s all I got before the clouds moved in and I got tired of sitting in cold, wet moss.

But if I’m right in my assumption that the females are sitting on eggs, return trips might prove productive.

Time will tell, eh?  😉