One of These and One of Those

Greetings all!  Since I’ll probably not be posting again until after Thanksgiving, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Turkey Day (well, guess not so much from the turkey’s perspective) and safe travels if you are out and about.  Today’s post is a two-for of sorts.  Not only do you get to see a … umm a “this” but you also get to see … uh well umm a “that”.  As you can tell, I’m not entirely sure what they are.  There are a few guesses but, in truth, hoping my highly knowledgeable and gracious readers (the butter-up) can help out.   Begging is an option if needed – my pride is already dashed from flipping through bird books and slogging through the web for a staggering amount of time.

The first bird comes to us from Banner Marsh back in September.  We were heading down to Emiquon to catch the pelicans that were migrating through.  We had some time to spare so hit the Marsh first.  As soon as we pulled in I noticed something wading far out in the water.

It kind of looked from the shape like a stilt (link here) but it was clearly at the max reach of the Beast even with the Tele. Hand holding that glass on such a distant subject is difficult at best and not conducive to crispy shots.  My apologies, but these are the best that could be done with them in the digital darkroom – I did not want to mess up any coloring on the bird since it hasn’t been really identified yet – also had to do some major cropping just to make out the bird.

Hit the jump to start the guessing on this bird and to view the second subject of this post

Continue reading One of These and One of Those

The Thrill of Shooting Babies

RELAX! RELAX!… that’s just a clever hook to get you to walk in the door.  Although I’m comfortable behind a handgun or rifle, I was referring to my other hobby – “shooting” wildlife with my CAMERA.  Clearly the big game and birds dominate our photo outings, but every once in awhile we are lucky enough to have the smaller subjects drop by the house for some quick posing.  This is exactly what happened back in June.  I was piddling around (Linda’s words) when I stumbled upon one seriously pissed off raccoon.  Now I am not a big fan of adult raccoons firmly believing that they are one evolution away from throwing us off the top of the food chain.  They clearly spend their free time thinking of clever ways to wreak havoc on our house – especially the bird feeders (and not wasting it on Internet searches for Hank Williams Jr.)  .  Fortunately for them, I have a golden rule – The Young Shall Not Be Harmed Nor Adults In Company Of Their Young.  I know the consequences when they become adults, but everyone should have a right to enjoy the innocent years.  The 8 baby mice that I came across in our propane tank lid resulting in having to spent 45 minutes rounding up and coaxing their mom to lead each to safety last month can attest to this (probably should be some commas in that beast of a sentence).  I know that some will make it to adulthood to drive me nuts but convictions are convictions.

I’ve had enough encounters with raccoon mothers to know when babies are close.  Like this one they turn nasty and start hissing and baring their teeth.  Due to being an evolution away, they eventually recognize their shortcomings and try to draw the danger away.   If you simply stand your ground they eventually give up and head for safety.  Don’t be fooled, they do not go very far but create enough distance from you that you tend to forget they are out there.  Whenever this happens I start looking to the trees to see what was worth trying to protect.  One thing their mother’s always teach their offspring – when in trouble take the high ground.  This eliminates a large number of threats around here and cats pretty much want no part of this game.  Sure enough, not far from where I was standing was this:

How cute is that!  As much damage their parents have done around here I’m going to get a little benefit.  Linda happened to come out of the house at the same time so I had her grab the camera.  Raccoon babies are excellent photographic subjects.  They tend to stay stationary and have a cute factor that is through the roof.  The struggle with this one was getting the composition right – no matter which angle I took there were leaves in the way (not too surprising since we do live in the woods).  The wind was also blowing adding another factor to the mix.  A few minutes into the shot we were greeted with another surprise.

Score – double cuteness.  They were fairly calm about the whole ordeal likely due to the fact I’d come upon them before and let them pass without harm – no camera then though.  Our attention kept them very alert.  Their ears were nicely tuned forward and for the most part they kept those eyes wide open (very glint friendly).  See that paw clinched onto the tree?  Should this particular baby make it to adulthood, that paw will be continually testing all my bird feeder protections.  Note, when looking some information up on these critters I was shocked to learn that they do NOT have an opposable thumb yet since I was a kid always thought they did – another childhood education fallacy in the vein of the Brontosaurus and Pluto – they may actually be more than one evolution away now.

There’s more (literally) .. hit the jump!

Continue reading The Thrill of Shooting Babies

The Good and the Bad of Big Glass Depth of Field

Greetings all! I am finally getting back on my feet after the month from hell. Once all the adrenaline and excitement wore off from the race and party I started realizing what a toll it all took on my body. Even with my customary week off relaxing (yep, no running, and no work on Project Auuunoold) I still couldn’t shake the aches and pains. The next week started and I was beginning to get concerned. Figured I’d start the rebuilding process this week … back on the core to get the body fixed up and stretched and a little biking for cardio is starting to work their magic. Still not ready to run yet but due time, due time. In the meantime, thought I’d toss out a quick post.

Tonight’s topic is that very tricky subject of Depth of Field (DoF). To be honest, this is one of those photography topics I am trying to get a better understanding of – primarily because I’m constantly fighting it out in the field especially with the Beast. My quick and dirty definition of DoF is the measurement of how much distance will be in focus (sharp) for a given set of exposure, glass and camera specs. I still have a lot of learning to do on this subject so there will not be any expert advice here – I’ll certainly come back on this subject once I get read up on it some more. The good, or the bad depending on your point of view, is that you can see the effect pretty easily.

Take a look at some shots from a shoot Linda and I took back in July. We were out at Jubilee and due to lack of birds was spending my time on anything else I could find that had wings.

So there I was with my standard birding setup which consists of the Beast (200-400mm) coupled with the 1.4 Tele on the D7000 (1.5 crop sensor).  These shots were taken at around the 3.6 to 3.8 m range hand held… and people wonder why I continually workout.  These dragonflies were all over the place darting to and fro so I decided to get a little small subject focusing practice in.  When the subject is smaller than the central focus region, the glass tends to walk a lot, especially the long glass.  So there I stood happily shooting away.  That happiness lasted until I got home and started assessing the output.  Notice anything glaring wrong with the first shot?

The right wings are nice and crispy, but what the hell is up with the left side?  Was that particular wing moving at the time … doubtful, they tend to move both sets of wings in unison from what I have experienced and the 16oo ISO would have compensated for that anyway.  The problem is in the focus parameters.   My depth of field is not encompassing the full thickness of the subject.

I was fighting the glass to keep it on target and firing away on fast multi-shot so there were plenty of other examples to explore.  Hit the jump to see more examples of DoF.

Continue reading The Good and the Bad of Big Glass Depth of Field