Friday, February 12, 2010

A Warbler

These are a couple of shots I got of a small bird last weekend at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. I think it's some species of warbler, but I couldn't tell you which one. According to my book, there are a couple of different ones with the yellow underbelly you see here. (I think it was also a warbler I spotted here, judging by the thin beak, but that one isn't the same as this one.) It's hard for me to ID some of these little birds since I don't see them all that frequently. They're hard to spot in the wild, and I can only get their pictures when I happen to have a long lens on the camera and I happen across them. I usually get a shot or two and they're gone. This guy was different, though. He was out in the open and hopping along the ground for almost 10 minutes, looking for seeds or insects or whatever he eats. For a little guy not much more that four inches beak to tail, I thought I got some pretty decent shots.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Live Wire

Those power lines at Robinson Preserve are just a magnet for wildlife. Not only did I spot woodpeckers and a kestrel up there on Saturday, I also saw this kingfisher. As usual, he was skittish to the point of not being there. Soon as I took two steps towards him to get a better picture, he was up and gone. So apologies for the graininess of this one, but it's all I got. Maybe next time...

A Masked Marauder

He may be a little hard to see, but this is only the second wild kestrel I've ever spotted. There is one (or maybe a pair) that are in the field behind my parent's house, but this guy is much closer to my house. I spotted him on a powerline running across the middle of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. I never got too close to him, and when I first saw him I thought it was a dove, but as he moved, I realized it was no dove. Those bands of color on the wings along with the marking on the face make these predators really stand out. Now I need to go back and see if I can get some better shots of him with a longer lens.

Woody et. al.

I waited and waited and waited for this little woodpecker to give me a better view yesterday, but he never showed my anymore than what you see here. And this was about the only time he stuck his head out of the shadow behind the palm tree.

I thought it a little odd that I would see similar woodpeckers two days in a row, and so many miles apart. The one up top was near the St. Petersburg Yacht Basin, and these two were ganging up on a telephone pole in Robinson Preserve near Bradenton. One of these two seems to be exhibiting male pattern baldness, although I'm not certain he was the male.

At least the one with the nice read head was closer, so I got a slightly closer picture of him.

Elvis Lives!

Yes, Elvis is apparently still alive, and he's towing cars that are parked illegally at the museum in St. Pete. Who'd a thunk it?

Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom

I've always said you can never have too much zoom lens on your camera. Problem is, the more zoom you have, the harder it is to get a quality picture. Here's a little example I shot this evening with an old lens I had and a couple of new fancy Canon Extenders I found at the pawn shop for a good price. Unlike the cheap 400mm lens, these extenders are top of the line. They'll find a place in my camera bag while I wait to be able to afford a nice long prime lens. Anyhow, the shot above is from one end of my living room to the other with just the big 400mm zoom telephoto lens. With the 1.6x crop factor of my 7D, that makes this shot about 640mm. At that kind of zoom, I can't come close to hand-holding it, so I've got it on a tripod and I'm triggering the shot with a remote. I guess I should learn how to lock the mirror up and take the shot, but I'm not quite there yet. Take a close look at the Justin Wilson LP just right of center.

Here's the next shot with a 1.4x extender thrown into the mix. Notice that in addition to giving more zoom, it's also darker. The 35mm equivalent zoom here is 896mm. That's pretty big. This is also the last exposure that the camera would autofocus on and really didn't think it would, but it did. All the remaining shots are manual focus. See that Justin Wilson LP? Not the one left of center in this shot but the other one, still to the right of center. Look close and you're beginning to see a lot of Chromatic Aberration. That means the different colors of light are traveling differently through the lens, and they aren't coming together quite right on the image sensor.

And here's a shot with the 2x Extender in place, making a 1280mm shot. Way, way, way long, and way too dark. I think I shot this one at a full stop more than the camera wanted, and I still had to brighten it up a little. Look close at our Justin Wilson title and you can see it's getting a lot worse. This is in pretty poor lighting, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad in daylight, but it still wouldn't get you into National Geographic.

Last but not least, this is the 400mm lens plus the 2x extender plus the 1.4x extender plus the 1.6x crop factor, making for a total 35mm equivalent of 1344mm! That's a lot of zoom! However, this is clearly the worst picture of the lot. It's almost to the point where you can't read the lettering on the Justin Wilson LP. If you were a double naught spy, though, this would certainly get you some incriminating photographs. Now, if I only had a nice 400mm L series f/2.8 prime lens to try this little test on...

So what happens when I put all these together? The collage above shows all the pictures crammed into one, with the lens alone at the bottom, followed by 1.4x, then 2x, then 1.4x and 2x on the top. I blew up each picture by the same factor as the missing extenders to get the scale the same in each shot. I also tried to fudge the levels a bit to get the brightness levels the same, but I didn't go crazy with it. (You can see where the camera shifted slightly between shots, I must need a heavier tripod.) Anyhow, you can see that I'm probably just as well off zooming the photo digitally as I am by having all that extra glass. I think if I had started with better glass, there would be fewer flaws to amplify, but it would still be a trade-off. I have a lot to learn when it comes to such things. Maybe I should just go back to a point-and-shoot with a 10x zoom and quit worrying about such things. Sure would be cheaper.