Sunday, November 8, 2009

What a great day outside

Today was unbelievably nice, clear skies mostly, not cold (got up to 13C or 55F). I spent a lot of time outside with a camera.
First went earlier in the morning down the river bank towards the Moose River. This whole area was the subject of a stabilization project over the last couple of years.
Last year they shot 1700 soil nails into the ground and placed a lot of very nice granite from a quarry near Peterborough along the water's edge.
This year they got rid of the vegetation and shaped the bank. The result is a quagmire. You have to be very careful where you walk or you will sink in. Poor drainage, I suppose. Probably an expected consequence of getting rid of the plant life and spreading dirt around. I sink in once in a while, usually not that bad and I have learned to wear rubber boots. Today a little worse, almost over the tops of my boots. Ok, remember the drill. Put the camera in the plastic bag that is always carried (to deal with condensation in cold weather, rain or situations such as this). Put two hands on the ground to get the weight off the feet and struggle out and hope nobody is watching (laughing). Go home and wash the clothes.
Then, change cameras. I went out with a Canon 40D with 100-400mm lens. With crop factor of the 40D this is the equivalent of 640mm on a 35mm film camera. Did not have a lot of luck. The combination is not really quick focusing enough. But, got a few shots of ravens coming for eggs and one smart one deciding why bother with the ones on the ground when you can get more from the carton.
When I came back out I decided to stay on the grass as much as possible and brought out my Canon 1DIIN with the 300mmf2.8. While the camera is a few years old this is a much faster focusing combination for birds in flight. It is a heavier setup but tolerable.
Birds are flight are a tough group of subjects for me. I find that I throw away the vast majority of my shots but I imagine that is true for many people. The 300mm lens with the 1D is the same as a 390mm lens on a 35mm camera. This is not very long but my expectation was that I would be mostly photographing ravens. They are big birds and they come pretty close. Sometimes, in fact, too close for effective focusing or useful depth of field.

First thing I noticed was the flock of geese on the sandbar. Naturally taking pictures of them was shooting into the sun. So no great results and the geese did not have the common courtesy to come and fly over to the shoreline and perhaps give me a chance at some beautiful shots of birds lit up by the morning sun. Did a few shots but nothing spectacular.

Spent more time with the ravens. They come for eggs, not my personality. Today I went through a lot but got a few good shots of the ravens in flight and on the ground. One of them grabbed an egg and flew off and then somehow dropped it on the road so got a few shots of it and then, after I threw out a fresh egg and that bird took off with it, a more timid raven finishing it up.

I love the shapes the ravens assume when they fly especially when they are landing or turning or flying close to the ground or buildings. I try to focus on the eyes/head because once the birds get really close there is not way that the whole bird is going to be in focus with a 300mm lens. I turn exposure compensation way up, usually plus 2. Ravens are dark birds and I want to get details in them more than in the landscape.

Noticed myself in the eye of a raven in one shot so blew that up a little.

I posted a bunch of pictures from today on under Ravens and Birds - General

No comments:

Post a Comment