Tag Archives: Nikon TC17eII

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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Just Like Starting Over

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Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m working with new software (Lightroom) and a new camera (Nikon D7100). Yesterday it occurred to me that I’m really working with three new cameras, because I’ve only had the Fujifilm X100s for slightly over a year, and the Nikon D610 for less than a year. I have not learned how to operate any of these cameras as comprehensively as I did my old Nikon D300, but I look forward to digging deeper.

Since the D7100 is newest and purpose-purchased for wildlife, I’ve taken it to Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve to learn how it works, and here is the main thing I have discovered: I need to start using a tripod or monopod, because 24 megapixels exaggerates my lack of steadiness when using the equivalent of a 510mm lens (200mm + 1.7x teleconverter on 1.5x cropped sensor = 510mm). I’ve gotten some sharp images, but a pretty low keeper rate so far. I’m not sure if I’m mis-focusing or shaking, but I’m working on it.

A Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Also a very small part of the frame, because even 510mm equivalent is no replacement for actual proximity.

A Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Also a very small part of the frame, because even 510mm equivalent is no replacement for actual proximity. This is when 24 megapixels really helps me.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

High resolution really helps when I cannot get close.

High resolution really helps when I cannot get close.

Here is the full frame from which the above image was cropped.

Here is the full frame from which the above image was cropped.

Usually I fret that I have too much gear, but yesterday I had the opportunity to use all three cameras. I took a long walk with the FujiFilm X100s and got a couple of grab shots, used the D7100 for some backyard colors, and brought out the D610 when my son wanted a picture under a very complex lighting scenario.

I had set the X100s to full auto as a walk-around camera. When I stopped for a beer, I liked this scene and simply pressed the button. No muss, no fuss.

I had set the X100s to full auto as a walk-around camera. When I stopped for a beer, I liked this scene and simply pressed the button. No muss, no fuss. And yes, the X100s has been used more in bars than any other location. Since I haven’t been going out much, the X100s has gotten little use in recent months.

Here's the sort of serendipitous scene that reminds me to carry a camera. I fired the X100s from the hip while walking by.

Here’s the sort of serendipitous scene that reminds me to carry a camera. I fired the X100s from the hip while walking by. I love the fact that I can carry this lightweight, large sensor camera around my neck.

In the late afternoon, I stepped into the backyard with the D7100 and 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor to see what I could see. What I saw were interesting colors...

In the late afternoon, I stepped into the backyard with the D7100 and 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor to see what I could see. What I saw were interesting colors. This is surely one of my favorite lenses, and delivers beautiful results on both camera bodies.

The Dancers. Nikon D7100, 105 f/2.8 Micro.

The Dancers. Nikon D7100, 105 f/2.8 Micro.

John had read an article about how the metrosexual was not being replaced by the "Lumbersexual," and as he was working with a chainsaw in our front yard, he decided a photo was in order. The sun had gone down, so I grabbed the D610 and 85mm f/1.4. Even using the built-in flash with this backlit scene, the foreground was dark, but with lots of recovery latitude.

My son read an article about how the metrosexual was being supplanted by the “Lumbersexual,” and as he was working with a chainsaw in our front yard, he decided a photo was in order. The sun had gone down, so I grabbed the D610 and 85mm f/1.4. Even using the built-in flash with this backlit scene, the foreground was dark, but with lots of recovery latitude. All hail big sensors!

A lot of angst goes into each camera or software decision for me, but every piece of new gear also gets me to play and experiment like I did as a youngster, and that stimulates learning. I’m also somewhat amazed at how different my images look when processed through Lightroom rather than Aperture, which I used for years. I’m still not sure if the look is better, but it is very, very different. Guess I’ll just have to play more to learn more.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Nature Photography

Different Camera, New Software, Less Blogging

A rare problem - the birds were TOO CLOSE on this particular day at Bolsa Chica.

A rare problem – the birds were TOO CLOSE on this particular day at Bolsa Chica.

I traded my remaining D7000 for a D7100. Now I have, in effect, two versions of the same camera: the D7100 and D610. Almost identical in operation, but one DX sensor and one FX sensor. With my collection of DX and FX lenses, it’s a very versatile combination.

I’m using the D7100 for wildlife, the D610 for events and portraiture, and the Fujifilm X100s for travel. So far, so good, but it’s obviously cutting into my blogging time. Hopefully I’ll have more to report on the 24 megapixel dynamic duo soon. One thing I’ll be writing about: The buffer on the D7100 really let me down during a pelican feeding frenzy at Bolsa Chica. I’d be tracking the birds toward the water and the shutter would slow and then stop just before they struck. Very frustrating.

At the same time, I switched from Aperture to Lightroom for post-processing. The learning curve is steep for a lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but so far I like the results.

A nice family moment at Bolsa Chica. Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC1.7

A nice family moment at Bolsa Chica. Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC17eII teleconverter.

I've been reluctant to use the teleconverter lately, because it degrades image quality, but coupled with the 24 megapixel D7100, it really extends my reach.

I’ve been reluctant to use the teleconverter lately, because it degrades image quality, but coupled with the 24 megapixel D7100, it really extends my reach. Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC-17eII teleconverter.

Here is a close-up from the image above. You can see the fishtail and its shadow. I could get used to all these pixels.

Here is a close-up from the image above. You can see the fishtail and its shadow. I could get used to all these pixels. Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC17eII teleconverter.

The D7100 is no worse than any camera I've owned for birds in flight, and might be the best. I'll need more practice, and look forward to getting it.

The D7100 is no worse than any camera I’ve owned for birds in flight, and might be the best. I’ll need more practice, and look forward to getting it. Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC17eII teleconverter.

On another note, I took a three-day weekend recently with just the X100s. Here's my shadow in Mt. Shasta, California...

On another note, I took a three-day weekend recently with just the X100s. Here’s my shadow in Mt. Shasta, California…

...and here's Mt. Shasta itself. Fujifilm X100s

…and here’s Mt. Shasta itself. Fujifilm X100s

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Filed under Camera Gear, Nature Photography, Travel and Vacation

I Did It Better Last Time, By Not Being A Photographer

I ignored good advice from others, and from myself. I know dang well that I shoot better when I carry less gear on vacation.

To be fair, though, this vacation was to offer a rare opportunity (for me) to visit a Great Blue Heron rookery in a stand of old-growth pines. How could I NOT bring the D610, 70-200 f/2.8, and 1.7x teleconverter?

As it turned out, the day of our visit to Cathedral Pines was murky (rainy/humid/grey), the herons were very far away, and when they were visible at all, they were only visible behind masses of tree limbs.

As close as I got to a heron photo at the rookery. That said, the experience itself was magnificent.

As close as I got to a heron photo at the rookery. That said, the experience itself was magnificent.

A nest, about 80 feet in the air...

A nest, about 80 feet above me…

Other than the long zoom and teleconverter, I brought a 24mm f/2.8, and did much of my shooting with that.

Brad and Alicia; the real reason we were in Wisconsin.

Brad and Alicia; the real reason we were in Wisconsin.

Now I have to admit that if I were traveling by myself, I would have spent many long hours at the rookery, getting eaten by mosquitos, until I got some dramatic images of adult Herons and/or chicks. But this was a vacation, not an assignment, and I wasn’t by myself. I was with three other people getting eaten by mosquitos. Not the right time to be saying, “just 1,000 more frames, and then we can get lunch…”

We had a wonderful time with our friends, and I got a couple of photos while out and about.

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A cabin in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, built in 1828.

A cabin in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, built in 1828.

And then, on our last night, the best photographic opportunity of all: Brad and Alicia needed a headshot of their daughter Hope. I’ve rarely used the new D610 with the 70-200 sans teleconverter, and I like the results very much.

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So, the moral of the story is that I talk to myself but I don’t listen. I should vacation with the camera I bought for vacationing: the FujiFilm X100s, and plan photo trips as solitary photo trips. Seems like the best way to enjoy each type of trip.  That said:

...we were with people we love, having a great time, and it wasn't about photography.

…we were with people we love, having a great time, and it wasn’t about photography.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Nature Photography, Professional vs. Amateur, Travel and Vacation

Even a Bad Day at Bolsa Chica is Okay

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”  That pretty much sums up my most recent and very disappointing trip to Bolsa Chica, but you know, I still had fun. I wanted pictures of terns hitting the water. I didn’t get any.

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Filed under Motivation, Nature Photography