Seems like I have been away from blogging for ages. I was away from the computer but I never put the camera down. Matter of fact I attended a photo workshop and have shot more frames in the past 2 months than I did all summer long.
Nikon released their latest big zoom the 200-500 AF-S prior to my workshop but I didn’t order it until after I got back home. I’ve taken it on 2 outings since it arrived last week and will share a some examples from todays shoot.
This first shot of a black swan is sooc the f5.6 delivered a pleasing bokeh.
A heavy crop on the mirror image of the ring necked duck and the white swan closeup doesn’t show alot of distortion. Though I hope Adobe will be adding the lens correction profile to Lightroom soon.
I haven’t tried the “Sport” mode that was added to this lens so far. That’s on the to do list next time out. The biggest surprise I had was too much lens compared to what I am used to with the 80-400mm. Never thought I’d say that! It’s a nice lens and will be an everyday part of my kit but it won’t replace the 80-400 however it is a great compliment to it. All of the shots in this post are DX format shot with D7200. Next outing will test its performance with full frame D610.
Other reviewers have stated that this lens design leans towards hand held shots. It can be done and can be used at lower shutter speeds than most long lenses allow you to shoot but IT IS heavy and the 95mm barrel is more than a handful for smaller hands. A quick mention the 200-500 performs well with the TC-14E III although it is a slow focus and manual focus is better suited for birds in flight.
Thanks for taking time to stop by and listening to my thoughts! It would be great to hear thoughts from others who have been using this lens. Until the next post… go take more photos!
I had one of those ahh-ha moments during practice photographing bif’s this past week.The stress I’d felt when I first began this exercise wasn’t there, the mechanics were making sense and I felt relaxed for the first time. After watching some birds fish it dawned on me that they don’t get their target catch every time they just kept trying. And, that was the ahh-ha moment for me, I didn’t have to get every shot perfect I just have to keep at it.
I took time to observe their behaviors and anticipate their next move and I chose the moments I felt would be good for a photograph. I was in a zen place, I’d found my groove and it felt good, I was enjoying being outdoors immersed in nature not stressed over getting the shot. The purpose of the day became about the experience not getting the shot 😄 Were all the shots winners? Most certainly not but it doesn’t matter.
This is the final post on my bif quest for now, once the gimbal head arrives and I test it out I’ll post an update so until then…
I’ve heard it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. With that in mind 8 of the past 10 days I’ve been photographing birds in flight. Hundreds of frames have been shot and I certainly have a better grasp of the mechanics needed for the task. There is a noticeable difference in the quality of the images to me. I know, you’re thinking “well there should be…”.
Each outing I tried different combos of bodies and lenses, trying hand held and using a tripod, seeking a combination to obtain the best results. So far the 610 in dx mode with the 80-400mm has the fastest focus responses and makes the sharpest image. Manual focus isn’t an option with these eyes and hand holding this combo it would be the bomb but alas a tripod is needed.
Moving from aperture priority to manual with Auto ISO was by far the best camera setting choice I’ve made during this process. There’s actually less thinking involved when you are in the middle of all that movement, go figure, lol.
As mentioned in my last post I believe that a Wimberley Gimbal tripod head will improve my ability to capture spectacular bird in flight photos and I still believe that to be true so, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Here’s a couple examples of this weeks practice. Can you tell which is a try from early in the exercise and which is from today? Should I continue getting up early or do you think I grasp the concept of photographing birds in flight and I can sleep in in the mornings?
Anhinga in flightSnowy Egret in flight
Tricolor Heron in flight
And just so you know my head wasn’t always in the clouds here are a couple of my favorite bird shots from this week that were closer to the ground.
Birds in flight… I stink at photographing them. There, I’ve made a public proclamation. I’ve made this statement to friends when we have been out shooting. I’ve said that I need to practice I just never made the effort until recently. Yesterday I shot 400 frames of flying birds. About 200 frames were deleted in the field and another 150 frames while viewing the days results on the computer.
The photo’s in this post are ok but I want spectacular. Now since I have shared my dirty little secret with the inter-web I will be compelled to put effort into nailing this part of wildlife photography, where I can come home at the end of a shoot and be wowed by my own stuff having captured sharp eyes, good exposures and fine details in well composed frames.
I have decent equipment, Nikon bodies with good sensors and Nikon glass, no kit lenses. My Manfratto CF tripod is ok but the ball head just doesn’t feel right when I’m using the 80-400. Panning drags and is jerky and no matter how tight I lock the head it drops so I’m fighting the equipment rather than flowing with the process. A gimble head will rectify those issues. I’ve researched and I know what I want it’s just the investment that has held me back. Which is silly because I am weary of being frustrated and fatigued from fighting with equipment that just isn’t designed to get the job done. Don’t get me wrong that ball head head is fine for smaller lighter lenses that I use for landscape and macro work it’s just the wrong tool for the job I’m trying to do.
Will a Wimberley Gimbal tripod head solve all my issues with bif’s? No, but surely it will assist me in achieving my personal goal of shooting spectacular bifs, then I can focus on other aspects of bird photography like my timing and camera settings.
Sandhill Crane eggs have begun to hatch here in Florida. This week I watched this family for an hour as they meandered through the grasses foraging for food.
Early morning dew from the grasses collected on the front of this one week old colt. They often flap their wings while walking to keep their balance until they get a little bigger and used to their long legs. They shadow their parents waiting to be fed and learning how to find food.
On the way back to the parking area I came across another Sandhill Crane family with 2 colts… they were on the way into tall grasses so we will have to wait for another day to tell their story.
When Great Blue Herons change who is in charge of keeping watch on their nest they perform a Nest Relief Ceremony, it is part of the pair bonding rituals where they clap their bills together.
They swallow the food they hunt for and regurgitate it to feed their chicks. Some of the contortions were comical looking especially with the breeding plumage billowing in the breeze.
They aren’t necessarily fond of being watched when feeding their chicks. This adult went through the motions of bringing up the food several times but waited until there was no one on the trail to watch it feed the chick.
It is good to look back from whence you walk. Once the trail was clear of onlookers the first hatched chick popped its head above the nest and gladly received its food.
Several days after getting a look at the hatchling I visited the nest again and was happy to see there was a second chick in the nest. They were tugging at the adult’s feathers in this view. Their downy feathers are adorable.
Perhaps these photo’s should have been posted before last weeks post but I thought better late than never so here we are at the humble beginnings of this seasons nest building with Great Blue Herons.
The hand off.
This couple is working together to get the job done. One sits at the nest and weaves the materials together while the other goes out finds the materials and brings it back. Some times he is more successful with what he can gather than others. She doesn’t look too happy in the photo below.
Dusk is approaching and the toll of balancing on a branch while making the nest is showing on this female, she is overheating and regulating her heat with open beak.
Meanwhile he takes a rest in a shaded area while the Mrs catches her breath. At the same time he is keeping a keen eye on several other males in the area that have been vying for her attention hoping they will be her mate.
It’s breeding season for Great Blue Herons and I’ve been photographing this pair since they began building their nest late last year. The eggs are laid and it shouldn’t be long before we have hatchlings. The above photo was taken when the mates were changing places sitting on the nest, the following photos I took after the changing of the guards.
There was just enough of a breeze to fluff up and show off the breeding feathers.
Time to stretch those wings, now keep a keen eye on the nest dear, I’ll be back soon.