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

My Week, Still hoping to outlast winter

Sunday

Another early Sunday morning of hoping for a change in the weather pattern soon, and it looks as if that may happen by the end of the week. If the weather next weekend is half as nice as the forecast is saying right now, I’ll be going somewhere other than around here both Saturday and Sunday!

However, there are four more days of the cold and clouds to get past first, as it will be twenty degrees colder than average for most of this week. There’s more snow in the forecast, but not much. If the forecast holds true, almost all the snow on the ground should be gone by the end of the week. I know that I said that last week, and we made a lot of progress, but there was a lot of snow to melt.

Since we went over nine feet of snow for the season, we’ve had very little since then, and the season total right now is 113 inches (287 cm). It looks as if we’re going to have to settle for second place in the records for snowiest winters on record. Oh darn! 😉 And this morning, it’s 21 degrees colder than it was at this time yesterday, and I wouldn’t call yesterday balmy by any stretch of the imagination!

My new 300 mm prime telephoto lens should be arriving tomorrow or Tuesday, and I’m getting fired up about getting out there and seeing what this new lens can do.

It will be good to have a light weight, more compact alternative to the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) so that I can carry and use some of my other equipment, particularly, the Tokina 100 mm macro lens. But don’t worry, you’ll still be seeing plenty of photos shot with the Beast. I have already made plans to carry the Beast with the Tamron 1.4 extender behind it when the birds that live in open fields arrive this spring, so I can get better close-ups of those species.

But on a daily basis, or for longer hikes, the new lens will be the one that I carry most often. If I carry it, I can also carry my tripod, the second camera body, and the Tokina macro lens with no problems, and I can’t wait to see how well that the macro lens does with flowers!

Now, I’ll have to get serious about finding a good way to carry everything. When I was up at Whitefish Point last fall, several of the birders there used wagons like kids have, to carry all their gear out to the birding areas. That’s a viable solution, but I still think that something with even large wheels would be better. But, before I get too carried away, I have to save up for my vacation coming in May.

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that vacation, two weeks off, and there are few places on Earth as pretty as Michigan in May. I plan on doing some trout fishing, and some birding, but most of all, I’m looking forward to being out in the middle of nowhere with no one around!

Well, even though it’s still frigid outside, I’m going to eat breakfast, then spend as much time as I can outside today. There’s glorious sunshine right now, even if it’s cold, but the clouds are forecast to roll in soon, so I’d better get going.

Well, I’m not sure that starting so early was a good idea or not. It was cold to start with, but about the time that I got to the far end of the park, the wind was picking up, turning the day into another bitterly cold one. It looked a lot more inviting that what it felt.

I brought the L series lens on the wildlife body, and the Tokina macro lens on the other body, along with my tripod, planning on shooting a few of the lichens that are emerging from under the snow. But, it’s hard to take a good photo when you’re fighting frostbite.

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

As much as anything, I also wanted to show all of you better photos of my new way cool tripod in action.

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod set-up

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod set-up

Being able to swing the center post to horizontal to reach over an object is what led me to purchase the model that I did. Well, that and the fact that it is carbon fiber and very light.

I tried a number of set-ups, here’s the only other photo worth sharing.

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

I’m sorry for so many photos of the British soldier lichen, but for me, it works best if I stick to one subject as I try to learn what I’m doing. However, between the harsh light and the cold, I didn’t learn very much today, other than to always check the background so that I don’t end up with a post growing out of my camera.

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod set-up

Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod set-up

I am a push over for trick gadgetry, and I was afraid that it was the case with the tripod that I chose, but it turns out that this is one time when the trick gadgetry works as well or better than what I had thought that it would. The tripod is surprisingly steady as long as I don’t extend the “boom” out too far. You do have to use some common sense, I would never attempt to mount the Beast to the tripod with the center post flipped to horizontal, but for a typical body and macro lens, it works like a charm with a little caution.

Knot in a cedar fence rail

Knot in a cedar fence rail

I had planned to shoot more photos of different subjects, but my fingers couldn’t take the cold any longer.

So, here’s the rest of the photos taken with the 70-200 mm lens. Just as I stepped out of the door of my apartment, this gull did a nice fly by.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

In the woods next to the apartment complex, I spotted this female cardinal singing. Cardinals are one of the few species of birds where the females sing, not as much as the males do, but the females do sing, and this is the first time that I have gotten one “on film”, albeit a rather poor photo.

Female northern cardinal singing

Female northern cardinal singing

This male house finch was close to full volume today, he must be getting serious.

Male house finch singing

Male house finch singing

This isn’t Fred, but another fox squirrel that was trying to keep its toes warm.

Fox squirrel staying warm

Fox squirrel staying warm

You’ll have to take my word for it because Juncos whistle through closed beaks, but this guy was singing his fool head off the entire time I was shooting the macro photos, and I finally had to photograph him.

Dark-eyed junco singing

Dark-eyed junco singing

And finally, a poor photo of a Cooper’s hawk in flight.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

I’ve thought about going out again like I did last Sunday, but I decided against it. Like I told myself while I was looking for other lichens to shoot this morning, there’ll be other days better suited this, no reason to suffer frostbite today.

Monday

Another cold, mostly cloudy day, with occasional snow flurries floating past my window to remind me that it’s still going to feel like January outside today. Just three more days of this crap left to endure, and then we should see the weather pattern shift. The forecast is for rain on Thursday and Friday, with warmer weather from then on as far as the forecasts go out.

I may be the only one who wants to see the rain later this week, hopefully it will wash away the scum left on everything from the winter, and maybe begin to green things up around here. I sure hope so!

I’m now tracking two packages, one with the 300 mm prime lens, the other with 4 large prints (11 X 14) that I ordered. I very seldom have prints made from any of my photos, but the company that I use when I do sent me a an Email with a huge discount to try to lure more of my business their way. So I’m getting the 4 prints for $5.50, and most of that is shipping, handling, and taxes. I chose three landscapes from last fall’s trip to Michigan’s UP, and the horned grebe that I shot using the Beast with the Tamron extender behind it as a test to see how well my photos do when blown up.

Oh, and that reminds me, the package with the 300 mm lens also contains the gadget that will allow me to use the fine focusing rail that my brother sent me more easily. I could fool around and mount it to my tripod now, but I’m not one to fool around with those kinds of things. The reason that I mention it is because I see that it will be a handy thing to use especially when I have the camera pointed downward when the center post of my tripod is in the horizontal position.

In that position, the only vertical adjustment that I have is by extending and retracting the legs of the tripod, which entails fooling around. The fine focusing rail mounted to the tripod will give me six inches or so of vertical adjustment, which should be enough in most cases. I’m pretty good at estimating how far to extend the tripod legs for a set-up, but adding the focusing rail will make everything easier.

That will be more important when the flowers begin to appear around here. To get close to the ground with the tripod that I have, I have to splay the legs wide with the center post swung to horizontal to get the camera close enough to low growing flowers. With the center post vertical, it would hit the ground before the camera was low enough. So, the ability to adjust height using the focusing rail will be even more important for those set-ups.

And, one more thing before my walk, don’t be surprised if you see another photo or two of the British soldier lichens before this week is over with, as I test out my new lens’ close focusing capabilities. 😉

Time to get going!

To take my mind off from the cold while I was walking, I debated whether I should start out testing the new lens with or without the Tamron extender behind it. I plan on using the extender 99% of the time with that lens, so in some respects, it makes sense to start out testing it with the extender.

On the other hand, it would be good to “benchmark” how well that the lens performs on its own first, then add the extender to see how much, if any, image quality suffers.

I have decided to start out without the extender. I lead a very boring life which gives me way too much time on my hands to ponder such things. 😉 Actually, there is a reason to put some thought into this, my brother and I are going to review lenses for each other. I purchased and will test the 300 mm prime lens, he’s going to purchase and test a 10-22 mm lens.  Then we can swap photos and let each other know how well the lenses fit our needs.

It was very much like a January day today, scattered sun and snow, although the snow was limited to a few flakes at a time. Officially, we don’t have any snow left on the ground, which is strange, since there’s so much left everywhere I want to go. What’s really remarkable is how quickly the snow is melting despite the cold, almost all the snow melt has been from the sun. Anyplace that is in the shade most of the time still has huge piles and snowdrifts left.

Anyway, enough of the snow is gone so that I can get around much better, so I thought that today would be a good day to get back in practice of “going in after” the birds. What I mean by that is that I get right in the branches of the tree that a bird is in. You’ll see from my photos that I’m a bit rusty. Other than the second photo coming up, of a female mallard, I was in the branches of the same trees that the birds were in, with me shooting through the branches to get these shots.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Female mallard

Female mallard

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

I seldom see female house finches in the open, so I was delighted to see this one where I could get a clear photo of her.

Female house finch

Female house finch

I was even more delighted when her mate joined her!

A pair of house finches

A pair of house finches

But trying to catch both birds looking the right way so as to not get shadows on their faces is twice as hard as getting one bird facing correctly.

A pair of house finches

A pair of house finches

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Well, that’s about it for today, it’s time for me to get cleaned up and visit my mom.

Tuesday

Yup, it’s still January, the calendars are wrong. It’s as cold as January, and we received some snow last night, so when I look out the window, I’d swear that it’s January.

I’m going to change-up my regular routine today, because my new lens should be delivered some time around noon today. It is a signature required package, so I want to be here when UPS tries to deliver it. It depends on the driver and the package, sometimes if you’re not home, the driver will leave packages at the apartment office, but not always. I missed the driver when they tried to deliver the tripod I recently purchased, and had to go pick it up.

If the lens is delivered early enough, I’ll do my full walk with the new lens, if it’s too late by the time it arrives, I’ll drive down to the park to try to get a few photos with it today if there’s time. Maybe the weather will have improved by then as well.

I’m going to add UPS to the list of companies that I’d rather not do business with if at all possible. On the website for tracking the package, they had this come on for their “My Choice” service, you can sign up for free, and they will provide you with a more definite delivery time. Yeah, right. I signed up, even though they were asking for a lot more personal information than I thought that such a service would require, ignoring the suggestions that I become a “Premium” member for just $40 per year, and when I was all done signing up, I had the same delivery time, some time before the end of business today.

So now UPS has already begun sending me Emails which I would prefer not to receive, they have all that personal information about me, and I got nothing for it. If I could back out of the service, I would, but it wouldn’t do any good, they wouldn’t purge my records out of their database even if I did cancel the service, which is really no service at all. It’s just another shady way for them to collect information on people, which they will probably sell to another shady company. I should have known better.

Oh well, I’m going to eat breakfast, then catch up on my reading while I wait for my new lens.

One more thing while I have the time, there’s just today and tomorrow left as far as the extremely cold for March weather, things begin to turn around on Thursday. The weekend is still looking fantastic, so I’ll be going places both days. Sunday is forecast to be our warmest day in over four months, it may even hit 60 F (15.5 C) for the first time since November. It will feel like summer has arrived!

My new lens arrived, and when I looked out the window, it was snowing so hard that I could just make out the garage across the parking lot. I took a couple of photos indoors to test the close focusing ability of the lens, it passed, with flying colors! However, I’m not going to post those photos, the subject was a bud on my indoor plant.

The snow let up during my play time, but I didn’t have time before work to go to the park, so I shot ducks across the street from me in the apartment complex.

Male mallard

Male mallard

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight cropped

Ring-billed gull in flight cropped

Female mallard

Female mallard

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

Female mallard in flight

Female mallard in flight

Female mallard in flight

Female mallard in flight

All I can say is WOW! I thought that my other lenses were sharp, but other than the Tokina macro lens, none of my lenses are close to being as sharp as the 300 mm prime!

I was surprise to see a pair of hooded mergansers here, I had to crop these photos quite a bit, but they’re still good.

Hooded mergansers

Hooded mergansers

Hooded mergansers

Hooded mergansers

Hooded mergansers

Hooded mergansers

Other first impressions of the new lens, it comes with a great padded case, better than most you see on the market. The lens hood is built-in, and the lens also comes with the tripod mount, something which Canon often charges an arm and a leg for. The lens in no light-weight, that’s for sure, until I compare it to the Beast, then the new lens seems much lighter, a whole lot lighter. 😉

I used IS mode 2 for most of the photos today, that’s for action shots, and it worked extremely well, better than I had hoped. I may very well carry the lens set to that IS mode for birds in flight, and switch to full IS if I have the time to do so when photographing perched birds. We’ll see, a 15 minute test isn’t enough.

But, for all my doubts and agonizing over the purchase of this lens seems really silly now. It is so much better than what I had expected it to be. Tomorrow, I’ll give it a full work out.

Wednesday

I’d like to have been already on my way out the door to test my new lens, but I have to wait for it to warm up first, so I’ll get the weather report out of the way first. It’s sunny but very cold outside, it got down close to zero Fahrenheit last night once again. We were one degree short of setting a new record for the lowest temperature for this date, again.

The good news is that temperatures are predicted to begin climbing over the next two to three days, the bad news is that the warm up will bring with it clouds and rain. Well, that’s mixed news, I’ll be happy to see the rain wash away the last signs of this long winter, but I have a new lens to play with, and I’d rather have sunshine.

The really bad news is that the new forecast for Saturday isn’t nearly as nice as it has been all week, but at least it will be warmer. So, I think that I’ll still go walking someplace other than here, but closer to home than I had been planning on, maybe Aman or Palmer Park.

Okay, back to my new prime telephoto lens. I said that it was sharper than any of my other lenses, and it is, but it is more than just sharper, it is better in every way. The color rendition, color saturation, contrast, everything is better than my zoom lenses, which is the way things are supposed to be.

Being lighter and more compact than the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), it was much easier for me to get the photos of the mallards in flight, a whole lot easier. Shooting birds in flight with the Beast was like trying to hit a moving target with a rifle, it can be done, but you have to swing with your target for some distance to match the target’s speed.

With the 300 mm prime, it was like using a shotgun and jump shooting upland birds, something that I used to be very good at. I just threw the camera up to my eye, got a focus lock, and shot, so much quicker than what I can do with the Beast. So, you may see many more bird in flight photos here again.

One more thing, about the Canon 60 D body. As sharp and as good as some of the recent photos that I have been getting are, I thought that I may have been approaching the limits as far as quality of photo that the 60 D can produce, I was wrong. Since I can see a huge improvement in the quality of the photos that I shot yesterday with the new lens, I have not yet reached the limits of photo quality of the 60 D body.

I hate to brag, but last spring when I wrote the post about buying camera gear on a budget, I was dead on when I stated that the camera body that one chooses is less important than using quality lenses. I’m going to have fun seeing just how good of photo that I can get with my gear, as there’s still room for improvement.

That reminds me, of the photos that I shot yesterday, I had one clinker, an out of focus mallard in flight. There were some where the exposure was off, but since I was adjusting the exposure to learn the new lens, that was to be expected. But, there was just that one bad photo as far as what the lens and camera produced, and that was probably my fault as well.

Well, enough rambling, almost. I would like to take just the new lens today, and wait before I try it with the Tamron extender behind it, but since the weather will be so bad until this weekend, I had better try the two of them together today. If it were warmer, I switch back and forth, but it’s too cold for that today. Time to get going!

I’m back, and if I said that I wasn’t a bit disappointed in today’s photos, I’d be lying.

I could tell when I stepped outside that the day was not going to be a good one for photography, and it got worse for a while. Just like a couple of weeks ago at Aman Park, I could tell right off the bat that my photos wouldn’t be very good because of something atmospheric. I was hoping that it was due to my eyes not being able to adjust quickly enough to the rapidly changing level of light, but that wasn’t the case. There were many small cumulus clouds that would block the sunlight for a while as if it was a cloudy day, then the sun would peek between the clouds and hit the fresh snow from yesterday, and nearly blind me, then, it would go back to cloudy again.

I did take the new lens with the Tamron extender today, and that was probably a mistake given whatever was causing the lighting to be so weird today for most of my walk.

Most of the few photos of birds did not come out as sharp as I would have liked, they’re not horrible, but they’re nothing to write home about either, so I deleted most of them. Here are the exceptions.

Blue jay "singing"

Blue jay “singing”

American Robins eating sumac

American Robins eating sumac

American Robin eating sumac

American Robin eating sumac

Even if the photos aren’t as sharp as a tack, they are okay, and I did catch the robin flipping the sumac in the air before swallowing it. So, the new lens and the extender are a viable combination for birding.

I wonder, I said in a post a while back that I’d bet that the Canon extender would work better with the 70-200 mm lens than what the Tamron one does. With the Tokina 100 mm lens, and with the Beast, the Tamron extender does a fine job, I can hardly see any difference in photo quality when using it. But, when I use it with the 70-200 mm lens, photo quality drops off quite a bit. But, one day with bad light does not make for a good test day.

I did much better on close-ups! I found a few subjects to test the new lens’ close focusing abilities.

Lichens

Lichens

Pattern in ice left from an oak leaf

Pattern in ice left from an oak leaf

That was shot handheld using auto-focus, and it’s pretty good if you ask me.

I brought my tripod with me, and when I got to the park, I did another test of the new lens on close-ups of the British soldier lichens.

British soldier lichens, handheld, auto-focus, not cropped

British soldier lichens, handheld, auto-focus, not cropped

British soldier lichens, handheld, auto-focus, cropped

British soldier lichens, handheld, auto-focus, cropped

British soldier lichens, using tripod, manual focus, cropped

British soldier lichens, using tripod, manual focus, cropped

This part of the testing went extremely well as you can see! The new lens auto-focuses accurately all the way down to its limits, unlike the 70-200 mm lens which I have to manually focus at less than about six feet.

These photos are also very sharp, which tells me that I have to hold off judging how well the new lens works with the Tamron extender until I get a day with better lighting to truly see how well that combination works.

Here’s another reason to withhold judgement.

Male mallard

Male mallard

As I was getting close to home, I noticed that the light was getting better. I was going to check the duck pond anyway to see if the hooded mergansers were still there, they weren’t, but I did shoot a few photos of the mallards to further test the new lens with the extender. As you can see, there’s nothing wrong with that photo!

So, I’ll keep playing, as it is, the new lens and extender together make a great alternative to the Beast, my arms aren’t tired today as they would be if I had taken the Beast. 😉

Thursday

It’s a gloomy grey day, with a little rain from time to time. It’s not a day that one would normally look forward to for testing a new lens, but days like today are one of the reasons for my purchase of the 300 mm prime. I wouldn’t take the Beast out in weather like this, since it isn’t weather sealed at all.

I’ve calmed down a little over the results of my two days with the new lens, from the extreme high that I was on after seeing how great the photos from the first day were, to being disappointed in yesterday’s photos while using the extender with the new lens.

The first day, I had excellent conditions and subjects, so of course the photos were great. That set me up to be disappointed when I used the lens and extender together in less than ideal conditions.

Yesterday was the real world, tough conditions, and other than the mallards, birds that didn’t want their photos taken. The photos I shot were about the same level of quality that I would have expected from the Beast under the conditions they were taken under. I wanted better, but then again, the Beast is no slouch, so if the new lens with the extender can match what the Beast does, that’s not all bad.

The new 300 mm prime does a much better job on close-ups, with or without the extender, so it fills that void very nicely. It is also so much easier to carry than the Beast, so I won’t mind carrying it and other gear with me at the same time, which was my main reason for making the purchase in the first place.

Besides, I have not yet begun to fine tune my camera body for the new lens with the extender either. One day’s photos are not enough to truly judge how good of photos that I’ll be able to get from it once I get the camera adjusted to it.

There’s one more advantage to the new lens, on days like today, I can remove the extender and use the new lens alone under rotten conditions. When conditions are good, I can use the extender, so it’s almost like having two lenses rather than just one. Time to test that theory out.

I’m back, and if I posted the photos from today in a stand alone post, I would title it “What you can learn from bad photos”.

When I stepped out of the door of my apartment, I noticed two things, one, the rain that had been falling was mixing with snow and sleet. Two, there were a pair of geese right outside my window.

Snow covered Canada goose

Snow covered Canada goose

Canad goose digging

Canada goose digging

In the first photo, I missed getting the focus on the goose’s face, but I love how well the photo shows the snow-covered feathers of the goose. The second photo shows how well the new lens does, even in bad conditions. Neither of those photos were cropped at all.

Here’s another un-cropped photo.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

And, the cropped version.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

It’s a little “soft” but not bad.

And finally, as far as photos, this mourning dove.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

In many ways, that last photo is the most impressive one of the few that I have shot with the new lens so far, even though it is a ho-hum photo.

Why do I say that?

There’s no chromatic aberration to be seen in that photo, despite the horrible weather when I shot it, it’s sharp, and the you can see the dove’s colors. When I first saw the photos of the dove, I almost deleted them, but then I remembered the barred owl photos that I shot with my old Nikon gear, now those were bad photos! The out of focus branches were tinged in purple or green from chromatic aberration, sensor noise was terrible, and you could barely make out that the owl was an owl. The weather today was almost exactly like it was when I shot the owl, mixed rain and snow, wind, and no light, but what a difference in image quality. The new lens proved its worth as a walking around lens with that photo alone.

What really stands out to me when I look at the photos from the new lens is how clear and life-like the photos look. Even my best photos from any of my other lenses look like photos, but when I view the photos from the new lens full size on my computer, it looks like real life.

Friday

It’s another gloomy, rainy morning, but it beats snow hands down! The good news is that the precipitation is coming to an end, and there may even be a little sunshine later today.

I’ll have to see how much snow that we’ve lost before I make a firm decision on where to go this weekend. There were still many areas where the snow was too deep to get around in last night as I was looking at the countryside while driving for work. Sunday, the weather is forecast to be sunny with highs in the fifties, but if I were to try walking through the four-foot high snow drifts left in many places, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

The large prints that I ordered are scheduled to be delivered today, it will be interesting to see how they turned out.

So far, the new 300 mm prime lens has performed better than what I had expected for the two days that I used it without the Tamron extender. The jury is still out as far as how well it will perform with the extender, I hope to be able to check that out better today, if it does brighten up a little. But, I’ll save the rest of my thoughts about the new lens until later, right now, it’s time for breakfast and a walk.

I’m back, and I have decided that the 300 mm prime lens was a wise purchase, even if it doesn’t perform well if I use it with the extender, although I still hope that it does. Anyway, I go out on a dark dreary day like today, and capture the following images, all with just that one lens.

 

Male mallards in flight

Male mallards in flight

I thought that I would end up deleting that photo, I intended it just for practicing flying bird shots, but then I saw how well it turned out despite my not having adjusted the exposure. I’m going to have to learn that I may be able to get just about any shot with the new lens, so I had better start putting more effort into even my practice photos.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Seeing multiple species of lichens together on a tree prompted this next one.

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens cropped

Lichens cropped

Those were shot handheld using auto-focus, and I think that they are very good photos. If I had brought the tripod and stopped the lens down a little, they would have been even better.

Fred the friendly fox squirrel stopped by to see what I was photographing.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

The red-winged blackbirds are back.

Male Red-winged blackbird

Male Red-winged blackbird

Male Red-winged blackbird

Male Red-winged blackbird

I thought that this was moss the last time I photographed it, but now I think that it is stonecrop or a similar plant.

Stonecrop?

Stonecrop?

It’s hard for me to believe that I shot all those photos with just one lens on a very poor day for photography. Everything from ducks in flight to medium size songbirds to near macros, I’m going to have a hard time leaving that lens behind when I go birding seriously.

As good as the new lens is, the Beast is still a better lens for birding because of its extra length and ability to auto-focus on birds partially hidden in the brush. Absolute image quality may not be as good with the Beast, but first, you have to get the photo before you can worry about quality. That’s the Beast’s strong suit, it always gets its bird!

But, what a great problem to have! Being torn between two excellent lenses, the 300 mm prime knocks my socks off with its image quality, the Beast still amazes me in its ability to auto-focus quickly and accurately on even partially obscured birds.

Saturday

In a complete reversal of my normal routine, I’m going to do my chores around home this morning, such as laundry, then go hiking this afternoon. It’s another dark gloomy day right now, but the forecast is for sun this afternoon. I sure hope that it pans out that way, as I really want to try the new lens with the extender in some good light.

Since the extender is so small, I’ve stuffed it into a pocket while walking the past two days, but the light was never good enough for me to try it. But that’s a very handy combination, the new lens is much lighter than the Beast, with or without the extender, and the extender is small enough to fit in a pocket when I’m not using it.

One of my chores this morning is to try to track down where the large prints that I ordered ended up. According to the tracking info, they were delivered yesterday, and they may very well may have been, but not to me. I’ll check with the office here, and I can drop off my rent check at the same time. If the prints aren’t in the office, then my only hope is that they were stuffed into the wrong mailbox by mistake.

I guess that I don’t have anything else to say this morning, unless I prattle on about the new lens, or the weather, so I’ll tend to my chores, and hope for better weather later.

I’m back after a very long day, it was a good news/bad news kind of day. The good news is that the sun finally came out, and I was able to test the new 300 mm prime lens with the extender behind it. I’ll get to that in a few, first, a few of the photos I shot with just the 300 mm lens before the sun came out for good.

Moss

Moss

Rushing water

Rushing water

Small lichens

Small lichens

Moss

Moss

I included this next one, because in a sure sign of spring, the young beech trees are beginning to drop last year’s leaves, although it doesn’t look like it here.

Beech leaves

Beech leaves

And, the only bird that I was able to get close to for the first part of the day.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

There was still a foot of snow on the ground in Aman Park, it was tough going at times. Even worse, the north end of the park was flooded, so I had to turn around and go all the way back the way I came. But, the sun finally came out, and it turned into a very nice day.

I sat down on one of the few logs not covered with snow to take a break, and install the Tamron extender behind the new lens. I shot this photo before adding the extender.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

And this is the one that I shot with the extender.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

I couldn’t tell for sure how sharp it was on the small screen of my camera, but it looked at least fair. I was hoping for birds, but they were all still taking their afternoon siesta, so I shot more mosses and lichens.

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens and fungi

Lichens and fungi

I saw those as I was going through my photos from today after I got home, and was stunned to see how sharp they are!

While taking another break, another chickadee stopped by to say hi.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

I shot about a dozen photos of the chickadee using the extender, and every one of them is that sharp. When I saw them on the computer, again, I was blown away.

Then, reality set in.

I had made it back to my Forester by then, on one hand, it was too nice of a day to leave, but on the other hand, I didn’t feel like battling the foot of slush on the trails either, so I picked a nice sunny spot to sit, and enjoyed the best weather we’ve had in quite a while. A flock of cedar waxwings were working their way towards me, when they got in range, I started shooting.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Hardly anything to write home about. Luckily, I shot about thirty photos of the waxwings, and as I was sorting through them at home, I ran into a few like these.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

I also shot a few of a downy woodpecker, most of them came out well, but there were a few fuzzy ones as well.

But, I didn’t know that at the time.

After the waxwings moved off, I still didn’t want to come home, but just sitting there was a bit boring, despite the weather. So, I had a brainstorm, I’d stop at the park that I walk everyday, since the snow is gone there for the most part, and maybe I’d find some birds. I did.

American robin

American robin

American robin

American robin

The good news, the 300 mm prime lens with the extender can take photos that are even sharper than the Beast. The bad news, getting those photos is hit and miss. The number of misses goes up the farther the subject is away from me.

So, the good news is that I have a 420 mm macro lens when I use the new lens with the extender, the bad news is that it isn’t great for birding, yet.

I have figured out that the auto-focus of the new lens is extremely accurate up to about 20 to 25 feet, then the accuracy falls off dramatically.

Since it’s late, and this post is already too long, I’m going to end it here, then, I’ll pick back up tomorrow morning as I’m drinking my coffee.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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9 responses

  1. I like the way the center post can be used on that tripod. Mine has two posts, with a short one that allows it to be splayed out at ground level.
    I’d say that lens is a keeper for sure! That last shot of the cedar waxwing is just about perfect.
    I think that stonecrop? is some type of sedum. Stonecrop could be correct-I’d watch for the flowers.
    I hope you found your enlargements!

    March 30, 2014 at 9:57 am

    • Thanks Allen! I love that tripod, had more time to play with it today. I had one with two posts, and the wrong one was always in it.

      The jury is still out on the lens, it does great close up and on flying birds, but not worth a darn on birds sitting still more than twenty feet from me.

      I will be watching for flowers, any and all flowers! After this winter, you can count on that!

      March 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm

  2. I was going to start off by saying I’m glad you are having fun with your new piece of equipment but upon further thought I wasn’t sure “fun” was the correct word, as it sounds like a lot of work and brain power going into figuring out a new lense. (Which is why I am forced to stay with a simple point & shoot, I am not smart enough for the kind of photography you do!) Anyway, like my husband who enjoys figuring out math problems for fun, I get the feeling you truly do enjoy figuring out the ins and outs of your photo equipment! I love the shot of the robin with the sumac going into its beak – what a great get! And also I was truly struck by two of the photos of the female mallards. The pattern on their feathers is so sharp and clear, I actually back-tracked and looked at them longer. I don’t know that I had ever really noticed that pattern before now, seeing it in your photos. I hope you are getting a nice warm-up today. I’m looking forward to seeing what lovely things you shoot once spring fully arrives.

    March 30, 2014 at 9:59 am

    • Thank you Amy! I love solving problems of any kind, except for math. 😉 The kind of photography I’m doing now isn’t for every one, but I do it to while away time.

      Sometimes it’s easier to see what wildlife really looks like in photos than it is in real life when we don’t usually have the time to study it the way that we can a photo.

      March 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

  3. Nothing like a prime lens, right? Wow!!! Is it the manufacturer’s lens or a third party? PS, why are those ducks sitting on the snow? Why do you still have snow? Hasn’t anyone ordered spring yet??? Sigh.

    March 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    • Thank you. I”m not sure about the lens yet, it does great up close, but not so good at any distance at all. It’s a Canon EF 300 mm f/4 IS USM.

      Some one special ordered that snow because they wanted cold duck(s).

      March 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      • aargh! 😉

        March 31, 2014 at 6:50 am

  4. Looks like the new lens is doing the job! Nice shots of the British soldier lichens and the Waxwing.

    March 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    • Thank you, we’ll see about the lens, it’s far from perfect.

      March 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm