Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Very Nice Morning

Now that I have some more reach in my lens "arsenal" I'm on the lookout for good bird photography opportunities. Now is a good time for this since we are in the fall migration season. Birds are on the move, and/or loading up on some good food.

This morning I spent the morning at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland. Here there are a large number of bald eagles that feast on the fish that make their way through the dam. The water of the Susquehanna River is fast moving and relatively shallow on the downstream side of the dam, and the fishing (for both birds and humans) is relatively easy.

I came away with a few good shots, and since this was my first time shooting birds of this type I missed a few due to lack of technique and experience with the equipment. That will all come in good time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's In My Bag

I've made some adjustments to my camera equipment recently. This reflects on the kind of photography I am moving towards. Here's what I have now:
  • Nikon 18-55mm: This is my everyday lens, nice and sharp. Most of my scenic and landscape shots were taken with this lens.
  • Nikon 70-300mm: This is an inexpensive zoom lens that has its drawbacks but it lightweight and easy to use. It's not the newer VR version, but it gives me adequate coverage in this zoom range.
  • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8: This is a little larger - and heavier - lens, but it is "fast" (i.e. it has a wide maximum aperture) and focuses very quickly. I use this for medium-range shots that require either quick reactions (such as shooting people or large animals at relatively close range) or for low-light situations, such as my daughter's high school theatrical productions.
  • Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro: This is a specialty lens. It is designed primarily for macro situations, although it can also double as a nice portrait lens. This is my "fun" lens.
  • Sigma 150-500mm: I just purchased this lens, to allow me to create better wildlife photos. It is quite large and heavy, and has some performance and usability drawbacks. But for the reasonable price I get a reasonably sharp 500mm reach with optical stabilization. This is something I'm going to enjoy for a while. I'm already lining up bird-shoot trips.
Previously I was using a nice Nikon 300mm AF lens for my wildlife shots, sometimes with a 1.4x teleconverter. But this either didn't get me close enough to the animals, or lacked sharpness with the TC. I've since sold the 300mm lens, but I've kept the TC although I'm not sure how well it works on this 150-500mm behemoth.

I also recently sold a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. I picked this up a few years ago but I rarely used it. It is an older Nikkor lens that operated in manual focus on my newer DSLR.

So I think I'm set for a few years, but you never know ...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bucks County Backroad

Autumn is a wonderful thing. Although the cool crisp air foretells the potential for more frigid weather to come, and ever larger heating bills, there is life in this season. The animals are actively finding all of the food they can, either in preparation for the long winter or for their upcoming migratory journeys. Also, plain scenes turn into beautiful ones, as with this back-road near Lake Nockamixon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Active Egrets

I spent about an hour at a local pond this afternoon, testing out my new Sigma 150-500mm lens on my Nikon D80. This was not much a challenge technically, mainly because of the bright sunlight and white subjects. My shutter speed was usually well over 1/1000 sec. But regardless the lens performed very well, and the egrets were active. Here is one of the better ones.