Anatomy of a hunt………


Now that my health issues seem to be improving day by day, I have finally felt more like getting back out in the field.  I think my recovery is going to be much quicker than I thought.  On Monday we took off for a couple of hours and  I was able to observe this Great Blue Heron hunting along a shoreline.  I was about 150 feet, (50 yards) away, when I first saw him.  I stopped the car, rolled down the window and turned off the engine.  I propped my Canon 70D with my Tamron 150-600mm lens on the sill, and composed through the viewfinder for the hopeful shots to come.

I would like to mention here, that I decided to experiment with back-button auto-focusing.  Whereas you use the AF-ON button on the back of the camera instead of using the shutter half-way.  It can be used on most Canon SLR cameras.  I think I am going to like that method.  I think you will agree from the images below, that the system worked fine for me.  Click on the above link for a detailed explanation.

Anyway, I didn’t have to wait too long.  After a few minutes, some movement in the water attracted his attention.  I pressed the shutter, which was set for high-speed multiple shooting and I was able to get the following sequence of his success.  I must say though, that there was actually about fifteen images taken in the space of about two seconds,  but because at the high speed of the series, many of them looked pretty much the same, so I am showing you five of the basics to tell the story.

Just waiting and watching

Just waiting and watching

Hey, what was that that I saw from the corner of my eye?

Hey, what was that that I saw from the corner of my eye?

Better check it out.

Better check it out.

Gad. this water is yucky.  Must keep it out of my eyes.

Gad. this water is yucky. Must keep it out of my eyes.

I don't know what you are, but you are all mine, weeds and all.

I don’t know what you are, but you are all mine, weeds and all.

I am not sure what he caught.  I think there may have been a crawfish, but also some weed.  Anyway, he swallowed it all.

Exposure was Aperture Priority, f8 @ 1/800 sec.  ISO was on auto, and varied between 400 and 800.

Click on the images to see great enlargements.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Tamron 150-600mm lens review


I ordered this new lens by Tamron back on January 15.  Because of a backlog I finally got it yesterday, Feb 12.  Since it arrived early in the morning, I had time to get it out of the box and head out to try it out.  Basically, I was mostly curious about how it would act at the extreme 600mm.  Most zooms seem to lack quality when racked out at the long end.

I was extremely satisfied with the lens.  First of all, it is only about half the weight of my Canon 500mm prime lens, and I feel that the sharpness compares to that lens.  Not bad since it is about 6,000.00 cheaper.  Also, compared to my 100-400mm zoom, it about the same weight, although I have not weighed it.  With the lens hood, it is about 3 inches longer than the 100-400mm.

The following photo were all hand-held.  As I stated, I was shooting mostly at the extreme 600mm length.

Gadwall - from camera

Northern Shoveler female – orig

Gadwall- cropped and edited

Northern Shoveler female – cropped and edited

Female Northern Shoveler.  Exposure 1/3200 sec. @ f6.3.  Distance about 70 feet, zoomed to 600mm.  Hand-held.

Killdeer - from camera

Killdeer – orig

Killdeer - cropped and edited

Killdeer – cropped and edited

Killdeer.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f9.  Distance about 45 feet.  Zoomed to 550mm.  Hand-held.

Northern Shoveler - from camera

Northern Shoveler – orig

Northern Shoveler - cropped and edited

Northern Shoveler – cropped and edited

Male Northern Shoveler.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f7.1.  Distance about 70 feet.  Zoomed to 600mm.  Hand-held.

Osprey - from camera

Osprey – orig

Osprey - cropped and edited

Osprey – cropped and edited

This Osprey was across the river and high in a tree.  I estimated the distance to be about 500 feet.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f6.3.  Zoomed to 600mm.  Hand-held.

Great Blue Heron - orig

Great Blue Heron – orig

Great Blue Heron - cropped and edited

Great Blue Heron – cropped and edited

Great Blue Heron was across the river near the bank, estimated distance 400 feet.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f9.  Zoomed to 480mm.  Hand-held.

Eastern Bluebird - orig

Eastern Bluebird – orig

Eastern Bluebird - cropped and edited

Eastern Bluebird – cropped and edited

The Eastern Bluebird was in a tree about 70 feet away.  Exposure was 1/2500 sec. @ f10.  Zoomed to 425mm.  Hand-held.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - original

Yellow-rumped Warbler – original

Yellow-rumped Warbler - cropped and edited

Yellow-rumped Warbler – cropped and edited

Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Distance to subject was about 70 feet.  Exposure:  1/2500 sec. @ f9.  Zoomed to 425mm.  Hand-held.

American Robin - original

American Robin – original

American Robin - cropped and edited.

American Robin – cropped and edited.

The Robin was only about 50 feet away I think.  Exposure was 1/2500 sec. @ f6.3.  Zoomed to 550mm.  Hand -held.

Not all photos were zoomed to the 600mm length, as I sometimes think more about the composition when I look through the view-finder, so I really forgot to check the zoom length.

My own conclusion is that I intend to use this lens instead of my Canon 500mm f4 lens.  It was easy to hand-hold it and the auto-focus is as fast.  The VC (vibration control) is as efficient as the IS (image stablization) in the Canon lens.  As far as the sharpness in the images, I can see no noticeable differences in it and my more expensive L series lenses.  I love the lighter weight, too.

Big Year update:

#94  Brown Creeper

#95   Clay-colored Sparrow

#96   American Robin

New Equipment Update – Canon 70D


Call me crazy.  As I have mentioned in the past, I have been using the Canon EOS 7D for the past several years.  I owned two of them.  A few months ago I heard about the new 70D and purchased one of them.  Well I am here to tell you that I am so impressed with it, I have added a second 70D to my bag.  I intend to use them, the 70Ds as my main cameras.  I have already sold one of the 7Ds, and will keep the 2nd one for a possible backup.  The 70D, to me has so much to offer, 20 MP versus 18, gorgeous HD videos, fast auto-focus, better over-all performance.  It just feels better in my hands.  The Loggerhead Shrike and Anna’s Hummingbird in my previous post are products of my 70D.  The shrike was taken from about 200 feet away from inside my car.

Great Egret - Canon EOS 70D - 100-400mm lens, 1/3200 sec., f5.6, ISO 320.

Great Egret – Canon EOS 70D – 100-400mm lens, 1/3200 sec., f5.6, ISO 320.

I have also ordered the new Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens.  I own the Canon EOS f4 AF IS 500mm prime lens.  But it is tough to maneuver around in the front seat of my car, simply because I am nearing 80 years of age, and not as agile I once was.  The Tamron lens promises to be lighter and smaller so we shall see how that works out.

Update to my west Texas Big Year bird count  (goal 210):

#78  American White Pelican

#79  Verdin

#80  Canyon Towhee

#81  Lesser Goldfinch

#82  Black-crowned Night Heron

#83  White-faced Ibis

#84  Turkey Vulture