My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Warning, I’m going to cheat, and other random thoughts

I have begun my project of creating a photographic life list of birds, as you may have seen with my posts on American Robins and grey catbirds. In addition, I linked my recent post about American Goldfinches to my life list.

I don’t want to flood every one with multiple posts per day, but on the other hand, I am chomping at the bit to get some of the list filled in. It bugs me to have started something and to have it sitting there “empty”.

This is especially true because I have recently posted photos of sandhill cranes, a northern harrier, and a few other species that I don’t see on a regular basis. So, I am going to do posts on those, and you can just ignore them if you would like, since you’ve already seen most, or all of the photos in those posts. I’m sorry, I know no other way of doing it.

Between the way that WordPress functions, and how large of an undertaking I have taken upon myself, I hope that you will understand. Just doing the pages that list the families and species of birds was 55 pages here on WordPress. I could do the individuals as pages, but they don’t get publicized like posts do, and doing it that way would also make it much more difficult to find the pages later on if and when I go to update them.

Sorry, but here’s a list of the species where I am going to recycle some of my recent photos.

Sandhill cranes

Northern Harrier

Northern shovelers

Western Grebe

So you can ignore those posts if you wish. I hate to do that, I have even stopped following blogs because the bloggers post multiple times per day, but this is a one time shot for me. I will be posting everyday or two after these for a while, as I have this last summers photos saved and at the ready!

On other subjects, we’ve had a few sunny but cold days here in a row, and I am almost convinced that the reason for some of my bad photos has been due to my exposing my camera to drastic changes in temperature. Time will tell if I’m right on that.

I heard the first spring song of a bird yesterday, January 18th. It wasn’t singing in earnest yet, just getting warmed up for spring when it gets here, still, it was good to hear it.

As I was listening to the song, I was watching a red-bellied woodpecker saving energy. It would watch as a downy woodpecker was searching for food under the edges of bark and such, and when the red-bellied thought that the downy had found something, it would swoop in to chase the smaller downy away, what a bully! (no photos, they were too far away)

As I was watching those two in action, I noticed a female northern cardinal less than 30 feet from me, on my side of a bush, perched right out in the open. I slowly pulled my hand out of my pocket, switched the camera on, and of course, off she went, no photo!

Birds are so darned good at fouling up good photo ops, even bad photo ops. Take this great blue heron for example.

Great blue heron trapped in the branches

Great blue heron trapped in the branches

The heron was coming up out of the creek when I caught sight of it, and needing practice at shooting birds in flight, I had a go at it. I was panning with the heron as it was rising almost straight up, and I was leading it slightly to allow for shutter lag. Just as I pressed the shutter release, the heron’s upward motion was stopped as it got its wings tangled up in the small branches, so some of the heron was cut off in that photo.

It has always amazed me at how a bird as large as a great blue heron, with its 6 foot wingspan can negotiate thick brush the way that they do. That’s the first time that I’ve seen one get tangled up like that!

Once it freed itself, I shot a couple more bad photos, just to have some to post.

blurry great blue heron

blurry great blue heron

Blurry great blue heron

Blurry great blue heron

All three of those were shot at 1/100 of a second, with my lens zoomed all the way to 300mm.

There are a couple of reasons that I posted those, even though they are rather blurry.

One reason is because I have never seen a heron having so much trouble making it through the brush.

And, the other reason has to do with image stabilization, and my questions about it.

I have read that some lenses with image stabilization have two different levels of stabilization, for lack of a better term. Some have a switch that you can use to set to IS off, full IS, or IS that only functions on one plane, usually vertical.

The reason that is given for the last setting is so that the lens can be used to track subjects moving horizontally, such as birds in flight, or sporting events.

Having never used a lens with IS built-in, I wonder what would happen if I tried to take a photo of a moving subject if I had the lens set to full IS? Does the image stabilization “fight” the movement of the subject and cause a bad photo?

Because I normally shoot handheld while on the move and take a good deal of action shots, I would probably have the IS turned off all the time if it doesn’t work on moving targets. Knowing me, I’d forget to turn it at times when I could make use of the IS.

So what I am wondering, in my own long-winded way, is whether or not it would be worth it for me to spend the extra money on lenses with image stabilization? I now have a tripod that I can use for landscape work and for other times when absolute stability of the camera is a necessity. Since the difference in price between what is essentially the same with lens or without image stabilization is $400 to $500, and I’m on a limited budget, would it be worth that price difference to gain one or two stops in shutter speed? I am leaning towards no.

Well, that’s all for this one, thanks for stopping by! And, once again, I apologize in advance for posting in rapid succession.

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8 responses

  1. Image stabilization is one of the things that convinced me to get back into photography, but with my camera i don’t need an expensive add on lens. Having to drag all of those extra lenses around was one of the things that made me give it up in the film days, but I don’t do much in the way of moving targets unless it’s windy.

    January 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    • Thank you. I get into photography just for the sake of the photography. I have to admit that carrying a Canon Powershot around in my pocket that would do everything from macro to super telephoto was nice, but….I find myself wanting that slight edge in quality that only a DSLR and multiple lenses can get.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

  2. Yes on the IS. You’ll be surprised how much it helps when hand holding for bird shots. Even the newest lens now adjust for minor movement on tripods. I like my pics sharp sharp sharp!

    January 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    • Thank you for your input! I guess that every one is telling me the same thing, that I had better get off my butt and find a way to earn more money to be able to afford the IS Lenses.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

  3. Jerry, get the IS – definitely!

    January 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    • Thanks Bob. That makes it unanimous.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

  4. Kim

    I’m so glad you wrote about the IS concerns! I have the Canon 55-250mm with IS. I sometimes use it for my birding shots instead of the heavier 400mm prime. But I have always left the IS in the “on” position. It never dawned on me that it could be interfering with some of my pics of moving birds….duh. I’m definitely going to start turning that thing off sometimes to see if I get better results. Thanks so much for the idea.

    And as for your “cheating” by reposting photos — don’t worry about it. I think your regular readers all understand what you’re doing, and people who aren’t regular readers won’t know that you’re repeating, right? Have a great day, and keep ’em coming.

    January 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

    • Thanks Kim. I feel like a detective when it comes to IS. Canon is currently selling lenses with at least 3, possibly 4 IS systems. Information is sketchy, other than the typical “buy it, it’s fantastic”. On their website, I have seen references to Mode 2, Mode 3, and Automatic panning detection, and I assume that there was or still is a Mode 1 IS. Wait, I found another, hybrid IS on a newer macro lens. Connecting which lens comes with what IS system is never fully explained in a way that is easily understandable, at least to me.

      According to the Canon website, the current version of your 55-250 comes with the Automatic panning detection IS, but I don’t know if that’s a recent update, or the age of your lens. The sensor of the latest version of that lens is supposed to detect when you are panning the camera in any direction, and react accordingly. All I can suggest is that you read the manual to see how best to use your lens.

      Now then, despite the advice of many bloggers whose photos are particularly good, I remain unconvinced of the worth of IS for me, the way I do my thing, and my budget. Image stabilization would not have, could not have, made the photos of the heron in flight come out sharp. It was the heron’s motion that caused 99% of the blurring, and no IS can freeze something in motion, only higher shutter speeds will do that.
      Sorry for the long winded response, but it has helped me sort some of the information out for my own use. 😉

      January 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm