Tuesday 31 August 2010

More garden babies

OK so not specifically hatched in my garden, but this newly emerged juvenile Southern Hawker came into the garden a couple of weeks back and took up refuge on one of the hedgerow plants sunning itself while it was getting its full flight strength.

With female Southern Hawkers egg laying last year and this year, and with the nymphs taking two to three years to hatch, I am hoping that we see our own emerge from next year or the year after.  I am already expecting Broad Bodied Chasers to emerge next year as I have seen them scurrying around in the pond.

Both images with the 7D and Canon 180 f2.5L macro lens, handheld.


Photoshop CS5 - ACR update

Adobe have just launched ACR 6.2 to take into account  16 new camera bodies and 120 lens profiles.  If you have CS5 you will an auto update notification.

Will give it a check out in the near future with the revised lens profiles


Monday 30 August 2010

Nikon 105VR Macro

A couple of weeks ago i mentioned that i had been loaned a Nikon 105VR Macro by a friend who had been offered it by somebody who was selling it, Unfortunately i only had it a few days and those few days were wet and miserable and the only shots that took with it were of Alfie my mini Schnauzer late one evening as well as a couple of ornaments that were close by, My initial reactions to the images on the screen were 'wow thats sharp', It really is one sharp lens, The VR makes it easily hand holdable in low light, The images here were shot with the D3s at ISO 6400 as it was just a test and i wanted a decent shutter speed, Anybody looking for a Macro lens for their Nikon kit wont go wrong in looking at the 105VR, It would also make a great portrait lens

Heres Alfie

And a crop of the above

A Rhino ornament that was close by

And a crop

You can see how sharp the images are with very little sharpening and also how impressive the D3s is at ISO 6400-No noise reduction has been used on any of the images


Sunday 29 August 2010

Look out for - new flocks and roosts

With most of this years young birds all fledged now, it is time to watch out for lots of new flocks of birds together.  As young birds and their parents leave their nesting sites and territories, you will see lots of them coming together for their collective protection and feeding.

I have been seeing  a regular large flock of mixed Tits come through the garden most days.  Comprising of a mix of between 50 to 100 adult and juvenile birds of Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed, this is not something I have noticed in previous summers in my garden.

Out in the countryside watch out for the same but with large communities of Rooks, Jackdaws and Starlings, and in particular during the evenings for Pied Wagtails.  This was the time of year at my old place of work when up to 100 of these delightful little birds would get together and can often be found in supermarket car parks.  At Morrisons in Stratford, they are regular roosters.


Saturday 28 August 2010

Deer oh Deer

Since returning from California i have been trying to get some White Tailed Deer images, Mainly because a couple of the does have fawns that still have their white spots-very cute and cute always sells, The does with the 2 fawns is very shy and i have seen her most visits but either distant or she starts to come into range and senses me even though i am in a hide and moves out of the area, The other problem over the last couple of weeks has been the weather, Its either been very wet or overcast, I have decided not to shoot in either case although some images in heavy rain would be different, I have some images of deer in lovely light and its pointless going out just for images when i already have better, So in that case i have made better use of my time by processing images that are backing up, The last couple of evening have seen a change in the does behaviour, I dont know if its that the fawns are now of a certain age but she has become much more relaxed and has approached the feeding area-i put corn down-much quicker and is more relaxed, although if you take a series of images she still backs off, so its single shot using the D3s's silent mode and only shooting when i am happy that they are relaxed and that the poses are good, A couple of nights ago she fed in front of me with the fawns facing the sun and then went around the back of my hide and wanted to feed in the area where the sun would be back lighting her, I put corn out infront and behind the hide as i never know what direction they will arrive, But she was again very vary of the area for some reason and stayed just out of view, I could see one of the fawns just behind a bush so i knew where she was, The problem was she stayed there over and hour and it was now dark-i was being held prisoner and dare not leave until she was gone as if she saw me coming out of the hide that would have been it and i am sure she would not have come into the area with the fawns again, Anyways the D3s has come up tops again, The silent mode proving its worth and makes it easier to justify the purchase, Over the years camera shutters have bcome more robust-the D3/D3s now being rated at 300 000 clicks but that also means that they have become much noisier which for a wildlife photographer is a real problem, My first Canon camera was an EOS 5 and its was very quiet-i wish they would make a quiet mode camera that could work in continuous shooting mode rather than one shot-so here are a few images from the last couple of visits

Notice the 'Light' on these images, Some were taken as the sun was setting and some where the sun was already gone from the area-its all about the light and the quality of the light


Friday 27 August 2010

750 up

So today it is congratulations to us - this is our 750th post since we started in January 2009.

We set out trying to write something every day, and we haven't let you down.  It has come close once or twice, but we have stayed with it.

So nothing more today but a little bit of reflection back over the last twenty months with more than 41,000 visits by more than 10,000 visitors from 96 countries around the world.  After UK and USA, Japan, Switzerland and France are the next most visited from locations - thanks Pierre (Pete) and Jackie  :-)

Although I note Vermont is STILL the only US state where we haven't been visited from.  Does Vermont have the Internet?

So as we go into a holiday weekend here in the UK, I hope you all stay with us over the next goodness knows how many posts in the future.  Keep your comments and feedback coming.  If we know some of you read and like what we post, and your words back to us it makes all worthwhile.



Thursday 26 August 2010

New Canon Gear

Canon have been busy-They have announced a list of new gear and gear soon to be announced, Camera wise the 60D with the same 18mp sensor as the 7D/550D, Images of this camera started to appear on forums a couple of days ago
Lens wise there are a few biggies- EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye, EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II, Extender EF 1.4x III and Extender EF 2x III and they have said that they are working on new versions of the 500 and 600F4 big boys-Time to start saving Canon boys, I can guarantee that these wont be cheap
I just found out the prices-be sitting down for this-The 300F2.8 will be $7000 and the 400 F2.8 will be $11000 yes thats right and the extenders are listed as $500 a pop!!!! must say i am glad i am with Nikon at the moment looking at these prices-Gulp, The positives are that these super telephotos will be much lighter than the previous models,The weight has gone into the prices


New External Hard Drive and Backup

I mentioned in my last blog that i had ordered a new hard drive and external casing from Newegg, This arrived a couple of days ago and within a few minutes the internal hard drive as installed into the casing and ready to go,The casing is excellent-very well made and rugged, It has an on/off switch for the drive and the fan so that is cool, First thing to do once attached to your PC is to partition the drive and give it a letter in my case the new drive is called 'M', All the instructions on how to do this are with the case, The partitioning/formatting took a couple of hours then it was ready, I have always done my back ups in the old way of copying to one disk and then the others, Its easy to forget what you have done if you keep one off site as you should do just in case of fire or theft so i downloaded and purchased a software called Acronis which is a data back up software and seems to be the most popular with people on forums, This way when i attach another hard drive it will read what the new files are and then just copy them over, My first mistake with this is that i copied the K disc to the new M disc, It took 20 hours and although all the files were on there i couldnt see them in breezebrowser so i am now in the process of reformatting the disc and will then 'clone' the K to the M drive so it will be identical-another learning curve but should make my life much easier in the long run


Wednesday 25 August 2010

A few Good News stories

With all the horrible wet weather around at the moment, I thought I would have trawl around and bring you some of the more enlightening stories from the world of wildlife that made me smile.

Quite close to me here in the UK, I found this story about the Brown Hairstreak butterfly which has made a comeback in Worcestershire - good news  in a year that has seen generally less butterflies.

On the eastern side of Scotland in year 4 of the Sea Eagle programme, a further nineteen juvenile sea eagles were released as part of the widening on their range in Scotland - good luck to them in the their quest for survival.   This first year will be their greatest challenge.

Staying in Scotland for the moment, the first wild  Beavers to be born in Scotland for over 400 years were successfully raised by their parents.  Now regular readers will know I have mixed emotions about some release programmes, so I will watch this project with interest.

Going back a couple of months, it was pleasing to hear that Purple Herons have successfully bred in the UK for the first time at Dungeness in Kent.

One other final bit of good news to share is that one of our guest photographers, young Ashley Hugo who did a blog for us here, got some good results in his GCSE's this year - so well done to him.

Tell us about any wildlife stories that you have heard about that you would like to share.

BTW - only 4 months to Christmas so get saving  :-)


Tuesday 24 August 2010

The Joys of Digital imaging

I often say to people bought up in the film/slide days that its a great shame that people coming into photography these days have never used film/slide and learned the 'proper' way where you needed to be careful with your exposures as with slide any more than 1/2 stop or less out and it was for the bin, Now you don't need to be as careful if you don't want to be, I preach that you should always get it right 'in camera' as the end result will be better but i still see lots of snappers with their cameras in 'P' mode shooting in a variety of conditions without thought of getting the exposure right, In the old days that would have meant a lot of disappointment when viewing the prints, Not so these days, If the images are under exposed then a quick move of the exposure slide in PS and some noise reduction will often yield reasonable results, I have just-finally- finished my Florida processing and there were a couple of images that were quite a bit under exposed-Now to justify why-i was shooting some white birds in a dark park of the pond-egrets to be precise and i kept an eye on a tree behind me where Cormorants and Anhingas were flying in and out of-2 very different exposures needed for each as they were in differing light conditions, I knew what the exposures should be for each and with a quick spin of the thumb dial i could go from one exposure to the other, on a couple of occasions i didn't or wasn't quick enough with the ageing thumbs and although i nailed the shot the exposure was out, I like Martin use Capture One for our main processing and only going into Photoshop for sizing and sharpening, Capture one does great things with colour and also when bringing exposures up its very good at not dragging the noise levels up, If you look at the cormorant images below you will see what i mean, The first one if the original-not to bad but its about a stop under, the blacks are blocked in places, The second image i have adjusted the exposure and added some saturation, You can see the blacks are unblocked allowing the iridescence to come through as well as the feather detail, The under wing detail is there but there isn't any noise where you would expect it-i.e under the wing in the shadow area-very impressive software, The images are full frame and you can see that another bonus of the digital age is that you can clone the odd distracting twig-another thing i keep to a minimum, As i say try to nail the exposure first but if you are trying to multi-task like i was here and you get caught out its not the end of the world as long as you have good software


Monday 23 August 2010

One of this years babies

Blackbirds are a very common sight in my garden, and I have watched the wonderful behaviours throughout the winter and early spring with up to 30 in the garden at any one time carrying out their manoeuvres while they feed.  When the breeding season arrives, and Blackbirds are among the earliest, they disperse out to their territories.

So peace, at least from the Blackbirds descends into the garden.

We have seen  some of a number of clutches of juveniles come in to find some easy food.  One pair in particular are very comfortable around us, and were with us all the time we were digging, bringing their young down for a fresh supply of worms.  I reckon that we have seen at least three clutches this year and so it was with that in mind that I thought I ought to at least record the events of this family at some point.

It was about the middle of last month, while working outside that I saw one youngster come down on to the bough of the plum tree.  I went in and grabbed the 7D, 300f4 and 1.4 converter.

Now one of the benefits of working with juveniles is that they don't know that they need to be scared of us and fly away.

However, I have generally tried to adopt a policy of not being to greedy when I approach a subject.  So I get to a point, and take a couple of shots, check the exposure and get another couple if I need to.  Then take another couple of paces, gently, and get another couple, mixing around the formats between landscape and portrait mode for a bit of variety.

Then another couple of paces, click, click, and so on.   It is surprising how close you can get, even with mature birds.

So this sequence below shows the first shot, then a bit closer in portrait, and then finally, probably too close - maybe American style being large in the frame.

Anyway, this is one of this years babies taken about four weeks ago.  All images fullframe and just neutrally converted from the RAW.


Sunday 22 August 2010

External Hard Drives again

Both Martin and Myself have discussed external hard drives before, Last year i purchased a Western Digital 1.5TB Elite, I must say that i haven't been overly impressed, Every time i go to use it it goes through every image on the HD before opening the file that i want, So i other words its time consuming which is something that i don't need, I have tried to see why and if i can change it but it cant seem to, I will keep it as a back up along with the 1TB Western Digital which is close to being full and i have just ordered a Western Digital-you can see a pattern here-2TB Caviar Black internal drive with an enclosure to make it an external drive-Why do this? well firstly for future proofing, At the moment my PC only has USB2 ports so when i get a new one with USB3 ports i don't need to but a new HD i just need a new enclosure which are not very expensive, The Caviar Black and Green HD's are highly thought of-The Blacks have a 5 year warantee and are known for their long life and reliability, The extrenal enclosure that i have ordered is a Rosewill unit with a fan built in-no i had never heard of them before but there are hundreds of good reviews on them so i will give them ago, I ordered my new gear from Newegg which seem to have a good name over here and i should recieve them on tuesday-i will let you know how it goes-As i am having trouble with my internet again-thank you Time Warner i will leave it as that incase it drops again


Saturday 21 August 2010

A quickie from me today

Well it is not just Dave on the other side of the ocean that is getting poor weather.  It seems to have rained every day since St Swithuns day this year, and today is no exception.  So it is bad luck for those at the Bird Fair yesterday and today - I think tomorrow is meant to be better so fingers crossed for you if you are going.

I haven't been doing very much photography lately what with a new job that is extending some of my hours, although I am enjoying the work very much, and at home I have been working to a September deadline to get my waterfall and top pond feature done, so I can plant the seeds around it in the optimal growing season.

What limited photography I have been doing has been opportunist images taken while in the garden, and I will bring you a few of these over the forthcoming posts with some dragonflies, butterflies and juvenile birds.

Also I have not forgotten that I owe you a round of some the my tips from my trip back in May - just where has this year gone so far, but I will do those very soon.................promise.  I also owe you how I set up the 7D with the C1, C2 and C3 setting for bird photography, so keep checking back in.

At least with all the poor weather my guitar skills have been improving, although I am sure there is someone else in the house that wouldn't necessarily agree with that one.

And with that, it is now Guinness followed by gig time. Enjoy the rest of your weekend too.


Friday 20 August 2010

Lets Talk

Now i am back home and things have settled into some normality, The weather over the last couple of days has been crap, Grey and overcast with very heavy downpours, The temperature has stayed in the low 90's so that means very high humidity, I have been shooting the deer on the private land and have some OK shots but the females with the young are playing hard to get, The young fawns still have their spots so i want to continue and as soon as the weather clears i will be back there, I have now put some bird feeders up as there are some very nice birds around there, the hide is positioned in a direction so that as soon as the leaves start to change colour i will have a nice background
I was given a Nikon 100VR macro to play with and so far the first impressions are very good-its one sharp lens, Infact my first few shots with it had me saying wow when i looked at the screen, Just snaps of Alfie my dog but boy are they sharp even when zooming close in on the eye
So with the weather playing up it gives me some time to get some processing done, I am way behind as usual and am still working my way through the Florida images i took months ago, I am quite pleased with them although there are a million like it around, Its always nice to get your own images of stuff you have admired from others
I sold my beloved D3 in the week and its now in a new home, I loved that camera and was very tempted to keep it and sell the D300 but to have a D3s and a D3 would be greedy and i sometimes like the extra reach that a cropped sensor gives me, Talking of cropped sensors Nikon announced the D3100 and the 4 lenses i mentioned a few days ago, The D3100 is Nikons new 'baby' camera but it has some nice features-new 14mp sensor and on the video side Nikons first Dslr to get full 1080 HD video and a first of any Dslr it has autofocus in video mode, so it may be the baby but it something no 'pro' model has yet
I had to give my D3s sensor a wet clean as i stupidly smeared oil on it when using the Arctic butterfly so i bought some Green V pads from visible dust and some of there sensor cleaning fluid, the first pass got the oil off and then another 2 pads to get all the crud off so nows its 99% clean-good enough,
So enough of my ramblings, I will leave you with a few images from this week and from Florida

Eastern Wood Pewee-I would have like a smaller aperture for more DOF but the light didn't allow it


Female White Taled Deer in beautiful evening light


Cattle Egret-White on Black-Flying past a dark area

Great Egret-White on White-Flying in overcast sky-underside lit using flash

Double Crested Cormorant


Thursday 19 August 2010

Pond Life Part 6 - Egg laying

Last year, back in September, I shared images from the pond showing Southern Hawkers egg laying.

So it was with some surprise that I watched another one back in July this year doing the same.

Here she is, on the same log as the one used  last year in the middle of the pond. I watched from quite a distance to begin with, but she was clearly occupied and very comfortable with my presence around her.

I got quite a few shots on various poses.  This one with the 7D and Canon 180 macro, at ISO1600 with f9 and 1/320 sec shutter speed, taken hand held laying on the ground.  Image is full frame.

This time from above to show the wing spread. Back down to ISO400, full frame

Finally right in close.  Now I normally really don't like these type of tight crops, with limited depth of field, but I am pretty happy with this as a study of the fascinating compound eye that these wonderful creatures have.  Again full frame, but with f14, and 1/160 sec this time.


Wednesday 18 August 2010

Blinds/Hides-1 step beyond

I use a blind/hide for a lot of my work from bird to deer photography, They are a great way of getting close to your target species without putting any stress on them, They keep your scent in and keep you warm and dry, For years i have been using the dome type hides, I had a canvas one for years from Wildlife Watching Supplies, Infact it was so old and used that it looked mono chrome as all the colour had been bleached out by the sun, But it did a great job and was great in the winter due to its heavy canvas coat, Since moving to the States i have just used the pop up cheapy jobs, Available around $60-70 they have done ok but i have gone through 3 in 2 years so they are not built to last, When i was in the UK recently i shot with Phil Shaw and we used a square hide that i had not see before, It was well made with thick poles and very rigid, It was an American made hide and Phil told me they are around $500 or so-quite expensive but a great design, Big enough for 2 in comfort and without the sides sloping in at the top very airy-I was impressed, I didnt want to spend that kind of money so i had a look around, Cabelas are doing some square type hides from about $150 and then i popped into my local Dicks Sporting Goods and they had some that are currently in the sales from $200 down to $119 so i bought one, They weight quite a bit more than the standard dome hide, I bought a mid size hide that will take 2 people easily enough, Its very easy to erect, Just take hold of the metal 'eye' in the centre of each panel and pull it until the side/top locks open, Do that 5 times and its up, No threading rods or anything-Done, Just put it in place and peg it out-Very rigid and looks just the job, One thing i dont like on this model is that the scrim over the windows is outside but that's easily fixed, I doubt i will ever go back to a dome type hide again


Video tests

ALL cameras now coming out have HD video in form or another, Many people bemoan the addition of video on their cameras and there are many people saying 'if the new camera comes out with video i wont buy it' well do that and sooner or later you will have to give up photography as they will ALL have it, Its not something i am looking for-my new D3s has it and i havent even found out how to turn it on!! People were like this when liveview was announced, Now i love liveview and think its a great feature,All i can say is you don't have to use a feature if you don't want, I don't think many people realise how having HD video in a still camera is important to the movie industry,Sure mum and dad can take some video footage of the kids playing football but it goes deeper than that, Take a look at this video (if you have 30 mins to spare) listen to what people in 'the' industry are saying about modern Dslrs and how blown away they are by them and their capabilities, I found it very enlightening


Tuesday 17 August 2010

10 Stop ND follow on

I was pleased that Dave wrote about the Lee Filters 10 stop ND filter here and here

A few of years ago, I watched a fascinating illustrated talk by Guy Edwardes, who shared a few of his images where he had used a 10 stopper, so I fancied a go at that.

Now I have been a Lee Filter system user for a good few years now, but at the time, the Lee option on the 10 stopper wasn't available.  The only options were Singh-Ray and B & W, although I am sure there might have been another one.

Both of these were only available as a screw in option.  Now I thought it was a bit of a faff, because as Dave says you really cannot see through it once it is on the lens, so you have to do your composition without it on.  Now with a drop in filter this is obviously quite easy, and relatively quick.

With a screw in, it is more problematical, particularly if you also want to add a drop in system on top as well.

Now where as Dave was seeing a strong blue cast, with the B & W, it wasn't blue but more brownish as you can see below.

Nothing special really.  You can get quite nice cloud effects provided there is some movement.  Usually works better if the clouds are coming directly towards you.  Colour cast not too bad here.  This was taken at sunset on the 1Dmk3 a couple of years back at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland.  Straight RAW conversion in Capture One in faithful pict style, so as it comes essentially.

Straight out of the camera, no 10 stop filter on this, RAW converted neutrally again.

This one with the 10 stopper, so you can see the brown cast.

While the screw in is probably more of a pain that drop in, you don't get the problem Dave experienced with light bleed at the edges.  So like all things life is a compromise.

So I hope this gives you a bit more information to complement to Dave's excellent post


Monday 16 August 2010

Lee Filters 10 stop ND Filter-The Big Stopper

As i mentioned in my blogs when i was in California i used the new Lee Filters 10 stop ND filter that they call 'The Big Stopper'. It works great and gives water that calm dreamy look due to the very long shutter speeds needed to get enough light through this nearly black filter, The one side effect is that it does give the image a blue colour cast, I actually like the cast but now i have the images on the big screen at home some look 'too' blue and the cast needs fixing, I mentioned on a blog in the distant past how to cure colour casts but i will run through it again for those that are new here,
Firstly open your image in photoshop, Go to levels and you will see RGB and a drop down box,Open the drop down box and you will see Red, Green and Blue, Go to each one individually and move the outside cursors in until they touch the black line, I usually hold the ALT key at the same time as i move the cursors, When you do this the screen will go black and as you move the cursor in you will start to see some colour, Once you see colour dots move the cursor out until they disappear, Once you have done this to all RGB colours the colour cast should be gone
Here is the original image as taken-no adjustments
And here after adjusting the colour
You can see the heavy blue cast in the first image-even the rocks are blue but in the second the rocks are a natural colour
The Big Stopper filter is designed to make an un-natural looking image so its up to you if you want the heavy blue cast but it only takes a minute to rectify it as it does with any cast on an image


Sunday 15 August 2010

Bird Fair 2010 20th to 22nd August

As part of our public service duties, I thought I would bring your attention to the Bird Fair next weekend.

The largest fair of its type in the UK, and indeed the world it claims, is  held annually at Rutland Water and next weekend is it.

Check out the link if is your sort of thing.


Saturday 14 August 2010

Work your subject

When i shoot a new subject i firstly research it and find out its traits and habits-where it lives what it eats and any behavioural things that i can find out and get in an image, So when my wife started shouting at me one morning to get the camera i ran out into the garden to see what she had seen, It turns out that something had been eating our tomato's that we/she had been growing, I grabbed the camera and tripod and set up and over the period of an hour shot the little critter which was a very large and beautiful caterpillar, I came in and downloaded the images and then went onto the web and tried to find out what it was, Turns out its called a Tomato Hornworm which makes sense as it eats tomato's and has a horn on its tail. Not really a worm but there you go, So after some research i find out that they are a pest here and can decimate your tomato crop, It also can get attacked by a parasitic wasp which leaves eggs on it which will then eat the 'worm', I started with the standard image with the grass in the background as here
And then some close ups

Here you can see it eating an unripe tomato so at least the image tells us something about its behaviour, Looking around our 2 plants i found 7 more of its friends, Now tomato plants are very untidy looking things and getting a clear shots was very difficult, I wanted to get an image with a red tomato in it for some extra colour like here
But although it shows the 'worm' in habitat i wasnt really happy so i grabbed some plain white paper and held it behind the subject to give the image a different feel

Quite a clinical look but something i have seen more and more in editorial work, I quite like it and it really makes the half eaten tomato stand out, I went to California for 10 days after these were shot and i asked my neighbour to water the plants and explained about the caterpillars, When we returned the plants were pretty much destroyed and all but one caterpillars were gone, The one that was left has the parasitic wasp grubs on its body so i wanted to get some shots of those as it again shows something about the subject, I positioned the plant pot in the shade as it was a very hot and sunny day and proceeded to get various kinds of shots, Th caterpillar barely moved and looked decidely unwell, You can see a change to its head and the colour was literally draining from its face,Here is a standard type image
and here i have again used the white paper for a background along with a gold reflector to throw some light onto the subject and warm the colours
Here is one just with a gold reflector
And here i have placed the gold reflector behind the subject to give a back lit/rim light type of image-Probably my favourite image of the caterpillar
So as you can see with a co operative subject, Some research and a little imagination you can get a variety of images, The day after these were taken i went to see how it was and it had gone

All images taken with a Nikon D3s and Sigma 180mm Macro tripod mounted and with the use of a cable release


Friday 13 August 2010


With the Photokina show looming the rumour mills are running over time, There are rumours that have been around some time and these normally come to something and today a German mag has let some details and images slip of some new kit that wasnt meant to be released until later in the week when Nikon has called a press conference, This normally happens so heres what is coming up so far

Camera wise so far just the base model Nikon 3100 but it does have a new 14mp sensor and Full 1080 HD video
Lenses will be a 24-120F4VR which is normally a kit lens for the D700,Its long over due and although the old version is good it needs stopping down for the best results, It should be a good walk around lens, I have played with the old model and its nice and light compared to the pro models
85mm F1.4-Long awaited for and should be a great portrait lens
28-300mm this is said to be an FX or full frame lens
55-300 which is DX or cropped sensor lens

Thats that it so far more news here, There are still strong rumours of a D90 replacement and hopefully a D700 upgrade but time will tell


Tips and Techniques - another use of the spirit bubble

Back in July, I posted my tip about not leaving spirit bubbles in sunlight for too long as it bleaches out the fluorescent green, as I posted here.

I also said in that post I would talk about another tip using the spirit level.

Way back when, in May to be precise, when I was on North Uist, I was finding that with the reduced field of view that you get with the 7D (1.6 crop), plus 500 + 1.4, I was finding it quite hard at times to pick some moving subjects up in the viewfinder, sometime when quite close due to the narrow field of view.

Now given that I initially pick my subject up, while panning or tracking, by looking over the camera, I set my mind to work on how to get a rifle type site to initially acquire the subject, and then get it reliably in the viewfinder.

Firstly, I realised that the knurled knob on the lens hood would be my foresight

I started off using just that initially, with the hot shoe acting as the rear sight.

Clearly the alignment was way off  and the subject was out of shot.  My next thought was to fashion a blob of blu tack, except I didn't have any with me at the time.
Then the penny dropped and I remembered by spirit bubble level that fits in the hot shoe.

Initially in 'low' mode, it wasn't still quite right,  but turning into 'tall' mode it was just perfect.

So with that in place, the camera on the tripod and sidekick, I had some accurate top sights that gave me much greater reliability of picking up flying subjects.

Here are a few images to illustrate.

 7D, 500f4L on the tripod. Bubble set 'tall'

Foresight (oof) set just a little high so that you can see it in the picture

Foresight in focus

The trick is to sit the top of the rear sight just on top of the foresight for spot on alignment

Try it some time


Thursday 12 August 2010

California days 7+8

Day 7 and i am heading up into the hills above San Jose, I have done well here in the past with images of bobcat,coyote and California Quail, So i went to check known areas, I arrived later than i would have liked and the light was already up and harsh, I only had 3 hours to kill as i was off to San Francisco in the afternoon, It was great to see a sign saying 'Mountain Lion Area', That really would be a highlight but on this trip it was not to be, I did see the beautiful Quail and many of them but they are always skittish at best and i only managed a few grab shots, One thing that i noticed was the amount of woodpeckers here, Its the best place i know for Acorn woodpeckers and there must have been 20-30 in a 5 mile stretch all sitting on posts next to the road, I stopped and shot 2 together and noticed that they were flying from the post and grabbing flies and then returning back to the posts-very strange behaviour but they were all doing it, You can see a fly in the image, There were and always are lots of raptors in the hills and every thing from vultures to kites to hawks fill the air in every direction, One of the lakes there is normally productive and i did see Green Heron,Coot and Blue Heron but there were a few fishermen there so the birds were at distance, So photographically not the best but it was just a fleeting glimpse and for the time it was great, I headed up to San Francisco for the afternoon and spent some time around Fisherman's Wharf doing the touristy stuff then headed up in the hills above the Golden Gate Bridge hoping to get the bridge in evening light with the incoming fog below the bridge-if only and as you can see from the image the fog ended up completely covering the scene but that's the way it goes and you really need to live there to get the image that i would love to have, My last day and with many hours to kill before catching the red eye back i went up the coast along highway 1 to Half Moon Bay, The weather was again grey and overcast, The beaches were for whatever reason busy so i headed south and found a small beach that wasnt as busy and set up again with the 10 stop ND filter and Polariser and tried to get some scenics around some rock pools, I managed 2 exposures before a rouge wave came in and soaked both myself and my kit-so that was that, I dried the kit and packed everything away and headed for the airport and the bar

California Quail

Acorn Woodpeckers

Golden Gate Bridge (Nearly)

Last day Soaking-You can see some light bleeding in at the bottom which was a problem i was getting with some shots and not others-maybe some dark cloth draped over the ND filter will cure the problem