Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Day for the Birds...

Thought I'd keep up with my blog and after a good couple hours out in the fields and lakes I'm back with some interesting shots hot off the SD card folks. Today I went out in hunt of birds, any birds, hopefully some nice looking birds. The bird hunt went pretty bad as all I got were a few finches, a young robin, red wings and black birds. Here are some of the shots taken with my cheap-o Tamron 70-300 telezoom (which is in dire need of being replaced by a FA* 300mm 2.8 or 4). The image quality of this lens... very poor but for under $150 it's cheap and reliable even though I'm not a fan of reliably bad, but I'll have to say it has impressed me a few times (very few times indeed).

The shots of the day brought to you by me:
I know these shots aren't up to par with most of my work, but I'm not a great bird photographer nor have ever claimed to be one, but I get the best shots I can with the worst lens in my bag and have had some pretty nice stuff come from it. I always tend to shoot in Av (Aperture Priority) Mode and have a lot of success with bird images since they have so much detail and the more I can get out the image by boosting the aperture really seems to help. I remember when I first got this lens and was always shooting in the lowest aperture so I could max out the shutter speed. That did wonders for me as I
struggled to get any good pictures out of it. Of course my background in photography never made me come to the conclusion that the lens is crappy wide open, but it did once I got a bit better at what I do and have now realized to only use this lens wide open in the most extreme conditions where I need the shutter speed above 1/100 or something along those lines. SO for now I tend to use the lens two to three stops up on the aperture and sometimes past f8 if the conditions permit. To get close enough for these crops I also used a makeshift hide (cardboard
box with two holes in it, one for air, and one for
the lens to poke out through) that was placed about 9 feet from a plethora of bird feeders and a water source. Technique works pretty good as they don't seem to fly away when they can't see you, but try not to move around so much as that also makes them fly away. In order to get a view of my surroundings I stay away from the viewfinder far enough so I can still focus through th viewfinder and also to see the outside and catch other creatures as they come into view. Hope this helps anyone trying to get some of the birds that come near their homes as it tends to work and if they don't start landing right away you're either too loud or too close and they can still sense some danger so just back off a little and wait a while and hopefully something pops into view.

Birds come in many shapes and sizes and I thought it was time for bigger game and headed out to the local swan park located on the Rock Valley College campus where they have two beautiful swans that come by every year and hang out and make baby swans. Today was definitely my day as I had the chance to score big with some shots that made me want to come out again and again for some more winners.

Basically this time I grabbed my Sigma 105mm macro and my Tamron 70-300 junker and trekked out to the small lake right on the edge of campus at RVC where I hoped to catch some shots of the local celebrity swans. Here is what I took home with me today:
He is definitely a sight to see as he is big as a 14 year old child covered in white feathers. He swam in close enough to let me snap off a ton of shots with the 105mm macro and they came out very nice as you can see here. The female tends to hide and keep her distance, but I also got a few of her so don't worry.

The second shot there is of the male as it swam by looking all menacing, but I couldn't help admire the fact that it would let me be so close without trying to run me off to the car. See the last time I came out to take pictures the male swan defended his women in glory by extending its wings and preceding to chase me and bark like some kind of strange dog. It was a sight to see let me tell you and I'm just glad he ran back to the water that day because I left my camera bag near the shore and would have had a very unpleasant day without the rest of my gear. The routine of chasing me off kept going on for about an hour (yes this time I took my bag and slung it over my shoulder so I wouldn't be left without it) until the two of them swam off together to parts of the lake I couldn't reach with my lens. The third picture is of the female swan in all her glory giving me the stare like I was even interested in her good looks anyway ;) She is definitely a pacer as every few minute she swims back and forth making me dizzy from going left and right over and over again as I try and compose a decent
shot, which can take a while and I'm not very patient at all. The last shot there is of the eggs the two have graciously left open to view and hopefully I'll make the trip on the right day and watch as the y hatch and get some great shots of young swan babies! We can all hope and now that I have a mission to do I will hopefully get the opportunity to accomplish it. My work schedule tends to change from week to week and I'm not all for going to the same spot day after day, but this could be my chance for a great capture so I guess I will tough it out and hope for the best.

I'm going to leave you all with one last picture that was kind of fun and that is this picture of a water rat chewing up a storm on a big leaf of some sort. This guy caught my eye as I was taking
pictures of momma and papa swan, but all I had attached was the 105mm macro so I crept up as slowly and steadily as I could and snagged this shot before decided I was in his bubble. Oh well, at least I have something to remember the guy. I hope you've all enjoyed the pictures and the story behind them and maybe you'll all be given a reason to step outside and capture something that interests you!