Monday 28 February 2011

A blog first - 7D video - Great Spotted Woodpecker

So here is a blogging first for us, and my first attept at using the video function on the 7D.

This lovely female Great Spotted Woodpecker likes our garden, and in particluar the fat/suet/seeed/nut mix that I have put in the crevices on my Silver Birch feeding tree.

Not a brilliant video -  bit shaky, on board mike so I set the focus, and switched the gyros off on the 500 in order to silnce that.

I need to spend some time finding out about video editing software and techniques.  This is like starting all over from ten years ago with Photoshop Elements!!  The file is too large and wont be any good trying to watch from your Android phones (or iPhones if you havent caught up with the better smart phones yet) - so I need to work out the best save format.  Any ideas or tips would be welcome as comments.

PS Loved the noisy Robin shouting over the top of it all


Sunday 27 February 2011

Japan Travelogue-Day 15+16

I have had a lazy couple of days recouping from the time in Hokkaido, I have been busy behind the laptop sorting through the mass of images and getting a few processed for the blog and my website, I have had a sore throat as well so am being careful that it doesnt get any worse for when we go to the Japanese Alps for the snow monkeys, We are off early tomorrow leaving Tokyo station on the Bullet train which will be fun, The plan is to get to the Monkeys around lunchtime and then spend 2.5 days shooting them, Its a 1.6km walk with the gear to where the monkeys are so i am scaling down the kit somewhat, I think a wide angle, A mid telephoto and the 200-400 should cover pretty much everything along with the flash and tripod
Here are a few crane images from Hokkaido


Saturday 26 February 2011

Frog Blog '11 - Part 1 - They are back and at it

With the long cold Winter releasing its grip, and some rain last weekend, I saw my first active Frog  for a while.

A couple of nights ago, it was wonderful to listen to the night time frog chorus, and they have been going at it each night.  Twos, threes and even fours together mating.  Walking round the garden in the dark, I had to be careful where I walked as they are all over the place at the moment.

It was raining last night so I took the little Panasonic P & S out to capture a couple of record snaps.  Using a small torch held in my mouth helped the AF work in the dark

As well as the frogs, the pond is now very much alive with dozens of Smooth Newts as well as they too come out of the dormant period of the winter.

I will hopefully take a bit of time to set up with the 5D, macros and a couple of flashguns to get some much better shots in the near future.

Guess it won't be too long before we have spawn.

BTW - forgot to mention - also another two garden first ticks this week - a pair of Tawny Owls and a very noisy Little Owl - fabulous to hear both species


Friday 25 February 2011

Japan Travelogue-Day 12,13+14

Its been an incredibly busy and tiring few days, We had decided to spend our last 2 days in Hokkaido shooting the White tailed sea eagles, The Eagles arrive in the afternoon at one of the Crane reserves where a guy throws a bucket of fish onto the snow and all hell lets loose for about 15 minutes, The eagles and kites fly overhead and then swoop down between the cranes grabbing the fish, Cards fill very quickly, I shot 40 gigs there the other day although we were there a couple of hours before feeding and 3 hours after shooting the red crown cranes as they flew in and out, This is one place where i wish i had 16 gig cards in my D3s, I shot with the D3s as it has a much bigger buffer than the D7000 and when you are shooting an Eagle swooping out of the sky the 9fps are very handy, the D7000's biggest problem in times like these is the small buffer and i have had a few times where i have quickly hit the buffer at times when i needed to take some extra shots, We have shot in some very testing conditions and here the D3s has shone where as i have had a couple of problems with the D7000, The biggest one being one cold and snowy day where i went to delete and image and the delete button stuck in and the camera was rendered unusable for some time until it decided to pop out, It did this a couple of times in the same session but since then its been fine, the dial for scrolling up and down images is also causing a problem where only the down part works so it will be going back to Nikon for a check up, I have to say that the images out of the D3s look much nicer out of the camera than the D7000 which seem to look soft until you give it a good dose of sharpening, Saying that i have taken some of my best crane images using the D7000, There were a few workshops going on, We met up with Marcel Van oosten and Jari Peltamaki-both very nice guys and award winning photographers, Jari and his group were on the same flight back to Tokyo so we managed to have a beer and a chat in the airport as well, Jari runs a company in Finland called Finnature which is very well respected and the company to use for your owl,Golden eagle, wolverine and bear images, We were very lucky with the weather at the crane sanctuary with sunshine and blue skies which is what we wanted for the birds in flight, One evening we stayed there until it was dark as i wanted to have a play around with slow shutter speeds and getting images of the cranes flying in and out to try some more creative type images, There is one animal that we have seen many times and really thought it would be easy to shoot and that is the red fox in snow, We have even seen them mating next to a busy road but have struggled to get any images of it at all until the last day and some of the last images when a fox came out into the field where the cranes are and walked across until it was in a shootable distance, Not great images but ticked another of the most wanted boxes
We flew back to Tokyo where i will be for a day or so before heading on up to the Japanese Alps for the Snow Monkeys and the last leg of this incredible trip, In the last 10 days we have shots nearly 50 000 images each!!! so that should keep us processing for some considerable time

Here are some more images-some full frame and some cropped for presentation
Stellers Eagle
 Blakistons Fish Owl
 White Tailed Eagle going in for the kill
 Full frame-just clipped the wing but still a keeper

 Black Kite

 Aerial battle for a fish,there were 3 eagles involved but this is the clearest image-quite a big crop

Just to give you an idea of how close they get-This is full frame   

Thursday 24 February 2011

Canon 5Dmk2 v 7D pixel peeping - Part 2 - a quick follow up

In my last post, on this subject, I shared a couple of images that showed the subject, and its size in the frame with the 7D , 500f4 and with the 1.4 x EFTC and also the 2 x EFTC.

I should have added these two images which show 100% crop  at actual pixel resolution for each of those combinations. 

 With 1.4x, actual pixels, unsharpened

With 2 x, actual pixels, unsharpened

Pretty erasonable detail for such a large crop.  Roughly 800 pixels wide here when you click on it, from the original 5184 pixels wide from the 7D sensor


Wednesday 23 February 2011

Night Photography

I found a great link here via @BirdBlogger on twitter on night photography.

So fantastic tips and techniques here for you  - worth a look


Canon pull the plug on Focus on Imaging Show

Canon pulled out of the Focus on Imaging show less that two weeks before the show is to open.  Story details can be found here.  Interesting that the show organisers don't mention it on their website, but have removed them from their exhibitors list.  Canon will almost have certainly committed a lot of money to this already with stands, services, accommodation and staff that will be wasted now.

I have previously covered a few thoughts of mine on the show here

In other news, Pentax have returned to the show after an absence of six years


Japan Travelogue-Day 10+11

Things are still going GREAT, Day 10 and we go down to a cold dock in Rausu to see if the sea is still frozen, It looks like it is and when we speak to a captain its confirmed that once again the boats will only be going as far as the harbour, We take a gamble and decide to not spend the money and to shoot from the harbour wall, So we were a little surprised when the boats went past us and out to sea, They only went a few hundred meters but it would have made all the difference, I still managed some good eagle shots over the 2 hours we were there but who knows what we would have managed on the boat, The weather was cold but clear, We had had very strong winds during the night and heavy snow,Our car was in a drift and we ended up digging it out,We were surprised to see that the sea ice was nearly gone by the afternoon, the wind had moved it down the coast and out to sea-probably about 6 miles out to sea, We thought by the next day it would be by the neighbouring island about 10 miles away,  We noticed some ducks in the harbour and spent some time shooting them, We managed some scaup and goldeneye along with a young harlequin duck-nice, The light was good and in the right direction and the colours on the goldeneyes head was bright green rather than the black that you see when the sun is in, We drove along the coast in the afternoon and found some Sika deer on the hillsides, They posed nicely for us before we moved on, On the way back we decided to check out a place where Blakistons fish owls are seen, they are the biggest owl in the world, We sat by a small stream and waited into the dark hours, We were lucky and it flew in as the temperatures dropped, We managed some shots before it flew off, We waited for 2 hours until it returned and again we fired away, Its a rare bird in Japan and on the endangered list, Its was a fantastic sight as it flew in-huge to say the least and one of the highlights of the trip.
After downloading and getting ready for the next day it was nearly midnight, We had the alarm set for 4am,Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the harbour to see that the pack ice was back, It was snowing again but the captain said that we could get out into the sea so we set off, The eagles were plentiful but played hard to get, At the end though we both had some very nice images in the bag, We left Rausu and headed back towards Kurisho and back where we had started, We both wanted some more white tailed Eagles and knew just the place for them, We popped down to see the eagles and in 10 minutes i had about 50 images in the bag, We have 2 more days until we head back to Tokyo


Tuesday 22 February 2011

Welcome to our 100th

Having asked the question here, we are pleased to welcome our 100th friend and follower to the blog who is James Indiana.  A warm welcome to you and hope you enjoy our posts, views and images and we look forward to your comments.  Like the Kingfisher avatar by the way

Canon 7D v 5Dmk2 - a bit of pixel peeping

Just over a week ago while I was at Slimbridge I was in one of the hides on my own and so was lucky enough to have the beautiful Common Buzzard that is the subject of today's blog all to myself, in beautiful sunlight.

It hung around for quite a while as it was intently study a vole in the field ahead of it, which it subsequently caught and flew off with.  This gave me the chance to change around body, lens and converter compositions to see how things looked and how the crop worked.

The first two images are full frame in terms of crop, and then I will do some 100% pixel blow ups.  (Click on the image to see it larger)

5Dmk2, 500f4, 1.4EFTC, 100% of the image

7D, 500f4 (no TC) 100% of the image

Summary - the 1.4 on the 5D nearly makes up for the 1.6 crop factor on the 7D.  Both images are within 1 kelvin on the colour temperature, but the 7D is warmer due to it being shot about 20 minutes earlier, and the sun was brighter.

5Dmk2, 500f4, plus 1.4EFTC, crop at 100% pixel enlargement - Unsharpened!!

7D, 500f4, crop at 100% pixel enlargement - Unsharpened as well!!
 I am pretty happy with this as neither has been sharpened.  The 5D was at ISO400 and the 7D at 125 (for some reason! - should have been at 100 as I only usually use whole stops, but maybe should have it at 400 for a truer comparison)
5D, 500 + 1.4  - cropped for presentation and sharpened
7D 500, cropped for presentation and sharpened as a direct comparison with the the previous one.
As can be seen from the first two images as the full originals, to get to a useable crop there has been pretty big crops.

Now if we put the 1.4 EFTC on the 500 and 7D, then the subject is much better sized in the frame (obviously) but does mean a lot less pixels are thrown away in the resizing process.

7D, 500f4, 1.4 EFTC, 100% of the image, no crop

And given that the light was good I also added the 2x EFTC, and again at full size, we now have an image that we need to throw away virtually nothing and retain all of the available quality.  Now of course the 2x does compromise IQ  and there are some losses but as we have said before on here, if you have great light, a good steady solid platform and stop down to at least f11 or thereabouts, you can get some good results with it.   In  Live view mode, I also found that the AF still worked with the 7D, and it shouldn't if you read the specs, unless somebody knows otherwise.

Landscape and portrait variants with the 7D, 2 x EFTC and 500 - both full frame

So conclusions!!.  Apart from the ability to pick and choose your reach by virtue of crop, factor, lens length and converter size, I am not particularly sure that I have proved anything  other that that the results are very similar between the 5Dmk2 and the 7D on this particular image.  Does it matter?  For me, not really as I am very pleased that there is this level of consistency and I stress for this type of image.

Clearly what I have shown here is very limited and not really scientific in any way.
But  it did prove, at least to me, that the pixels on the 5D are very good, but then I am not sure that that was ever in any doubt.

Where I will expect to start to see differences will be in the full frame depth of field effects when I start doing a bit of macro work later in the year, and also where the subjects are closer with the longer lenses.
But I like the 5Dmk2 that is for sure, and after the 7D the handling is so similar as to make no significant difference.


Monday 21 February 2011

New Friends

A quick welcome to the blog to Phil, Ben & Carrie Tracks and to Tim James, our 99th follower.

We hope you enjoying our postings and look forward to comments from you all.

So the next to join us will be our 100th follower and friend to the blog - who is it going to be?


Japan Travelogue-Day 9

We looked at the weather forecast last night and it said that snow was predicted and sure enough before i hit the sack it was snowing, It continued through the night and by daybreak a couple of inches had fallen and would continue to fall for the morning and by early afternoon around 4 inches had fallen, I thought that it would make for artistic and unusual images, We went to the boat and boarded at 6.30am, The harbour here is made up of a very large harbour with a small one in it, The boat was heaving with photographers when we left-mainly Japanese, Imagine our surprise when we round the corner from the small harbour into the main harbour to find out thats as far as we would be going due to the frozen sea, There was already one other boat out and had all the eagles next to their boat, They threw some fish out but that only attracted gulls and crows, The Eagles knew that they were onto a good thing and stayed put, I was very frustrated as the boat trip is around $85, The captain had also carefully positioned us so that we had a nice view of the harbour wall in most images, Eventually some eagles came over but it was extremely difficult to get a clean shot without either the wall,gulls or crows in the way, We both got some reasonable images but it was hard work, Petes 300 F2.8 was a touch short and my 200-400 was a touch slow for the job in hand but we overcame. In the afternoon we drove up and down the peninsula and saw a fox but no images, We shot some eagles that had perched in the trees near the harbour and as we were leaving we managed some lesser scaup in the harbour, Funny that Martin has shot these and the Whooper Swans in the UK and here we were doing the same, Here are a load of images from the day, The next couple of days look dry and clear so fingers crossed that the shooting will be easier