Category Archives: Nature Photography

No Such Thing as “Just a Robin.”

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A robin. Absolutely common and absolutely beautiful

We took a walk in the park today, and I brought my bird rig (Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC17eII 1.7x teleconverter) in case we saw some Red Tailed Hawks or Turkey Vultures or Owls (Superb Owl Sunday will be here soon).

Sometimes, when I stalk raptors or large sea birds, I find myself attracted to a bit of motion or color, but then saying, “It’s just a Robin,” or “it’s just a Phoebe,” or “it’s just an Acorn Woodpecker.” Shame on me. We saw all of these beauties on our walk today.

 

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Long-Term Review: Is the TC17eII Teleconverter the Right Tool for My Photography?

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Procured in the fall of 2011. I use it often, but always feel a little dirty.

My current bird rig is a Nikon D7100, a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, and a Nikon TC17eII teleconverter.

My love/hate relationship with the teleconverter may help other bird enthusiasts decide whether to invest in long lenses or take a component approach, as I have. Continue reading

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Sharpness Isn’t Everything, But It Sure is Something

Backyard Birds-9906

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Every now and then, I get a glimpse of the gear’s possibilities, and it makes me more determined than ever to become a more disciplined shooter. No small task for the self-proclaimed premier blogger for lazy, disorganized, impatient photographers. Well, sometimes we have to compromise and put some effort in.

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Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 First Day

Top of a telephone pole in midday light. On the D7100, 500mm looks like 750mm.

Top of a telephone pole in midday light. On the D7100, 500mm looks like 750mm.

Marketing-wise, I do not fall into the category known as “early adopter.” I usually get cameras and lenses after they are well-documented by thousands of users. But when Nikon announced the 200-500 f/5.6 a few months ago, I threw caution to the wind because if this is what it appears to be, I’ve been waiting for this lens a very long time. I pre-ordered impulsively, and then completely forgot about it until I got a shipping notification.

There weren't many birds in the backyard during the few minutes I had to try the lens, but there was  a moon.

There weren’t many birds in the backyard during the few minutes I had to try the lens, but there was a moon. Hand-held, wide open at f/5.6.

And what does it appear to be? A relatively inexpensive, Nikon-quality birding lens. Heck, based on my experience photographing Trombone Shorty with a 70-200 and TC17, this might even serve as a stage performance lens in professionally lit venues.

Pretty high up in a eucalyptus tree. I'm concerned about the focusing, but as I say in the text, I need time to use this lens with appropriate shot discipline.

Pretty high up in a eucalyptus tree. I’m concerned about the focusing, which hunted a bit and got stuck occasionally, but as I say in the text, I need time to use this lens with appropriate shot discipline.

What remains to be seen, of course, is whether this is what it appears to be.  So far, I don’t know, because it arrived in the middle of a work day and I’ve only had a few minutes to make these captures, hand held. This weekend I’ll bring some shot discipline to the task, and try the lens on both the D7100 and D610. Stay tuned.

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I Was Sad, but I Couldn’t Look Away

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We watched her build the nest for weeks.

It grew much larger than we expected.

It grew much larger than we expected.

We were thrilled to see three chicks.

We were thrilled to see three chicks. (The beak of the third chick is barely visible behind the second chick)

During the week, my reported that a snake got into the nest, although how was unclear. Two chicks survived.

On Thursday, my wife reported that a snake got into the nest, although how was unclear. Two chicks survived and I got this shot on Saturday morning. We weren’t sure how the snake had gotten up under the eaves, but assumed it would not need to eat again for a week or so.

I looked forward to photographing the mother feeding the chicks.

I looked forward to photographing the mother feeding the chicks, and was most concerned about finding a better angle for photographs.

But Saturday afternoon, I came home to this horrific tableau.

But Saturday afternoon, I came home to this horrific tableau.

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The adult oriole tried frantically to disrupt the snake.

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The snake had already dropped a dead chick to the ground. He wasn’t letting go of this one.

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Eventually, the snake dropped about twenty feet to the ground with his prey.

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I felt awful, but I couldn’t look away. I’m a photographer.

The bereaved. I cannot begrudge the snake his nature. I photographed him as I stood beside my BBQ grill, where a slab of cow was sizzling. Still, we had come to view the oriole family as neighbors, and I feel sad for the mother's loss.

The bereaved. I cannot begrudge the snake his nature. I photographed him as I stood beside my BBQ grill, where a slab of cow was sizzling. Still, we had come to view the oriole family as neighbors, and I feel sad for the mother’s loss.

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