Photo Of The Week: The Cardinal In The Wetlands

Blogged 1/23/16

Blogged 1/23/16

I could almost sense the thought balloon hanging over his head. “What on earth are you doing down here in this miserable weather?”   It was pretty nasty. We’d had a good smothering of freezing rain and sleet Friday and a ton of rain overnight. Saturday brought high winds (45-50 mph gusts here on the farm) and a pretty good dusting of snow showers. The flakes were still stirring when I trudged down to my make-shift bird blind near the wetlands here with camera and a sack of sunflower seeds in tow. The bird blind is nothing to write home about. A jury rigged shack really, pieced together with old tobacco sticks, burlap and wire ties. It serves to keep me behind the curtain so to speak. My thought was the leaden sky and the random snow showers would be conducive to some bird shots. No sooner had I spread a handful or two of sunflower seeds around the river birch than Mr. Cardinal showed up and gave me that look before flapping off, no doubt spreading the word that some lunatic was giving away sunflower seeds on the edge of the swamp. .

I was using the Nikon D7100 camera with a 300mm lens, which on the small sensor D7100, lengthens its reach to 450mm, more than enough to crank in the birds which take their sunflower seed up into the River Birch to crack open.  I used the usual settings save for one change. With the high wind, and the nervous nature of the birds, I switched from Aperture priority to Shutter Priority, setting my shutter speed to 320 and the lowest ISO I could get away with. I have but two gripes with the D7100. One is the small buffer. The other, and the one that really bugs me, is the location of the quality button. I am forever hitting it by mistake during shooting unknowingly changing the quality from RAW to one of the JPEG configurations which I am loathe to use.  My other cameras have the Quality button tucked away in a less precarious spot. It’s one reason why I’m giving the just announced Nikon D500 a close look. There’s much to like, including the location of the quality button, and speed. The D500 is rated at 10 frames per second. It’s also pricey at two grand. The XQD memory card it uses is also pricey: a 32gig will set you back more than a hundred. As I said, I’m thinking about it, just as Nikon wants me too. Stay warm everybody. See you next time. Jh

Photo Of The Day: The Birds Of Winter

birds.059.1.14.edited_edited-1I’ve been spending a lot of time this winter photography birds.   For one thing,  I get absolutely starved for color in the drab winter months. Especially so now that the bitter cold has wiped out all of the Camellia blooms. That plus the fact that the birds of winter are at their most colorful during the colder months.  It’s hard to top the brilliance of the Cardinal’s scarlet red,  the vibrant yellow of the Goldfinch,  the deep grays and browns of the Chipping Sparrow,  the subtle blue of the Tufted Titmouse and so on…  Plus, there’s no foliage to shoot around. I caught these Cardinals and a Sparrow in a River Birch Tree here on the farm.  Group shots are a challenge for me but I was right pleased with the overall sharpness of this take. Click on the photograph for a larger view.

As for the gear: Nikon D7100 with a  Nikon 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I’ve tried the big 400 and or 600mm lenses from various makers  and found all of them wanting in the sharpness department  when fully extended.  I have yet to find a reasonably priced telephoto lens that is sharper.    As I have pointed out before, The D7100 is excellent for wildlife shooting because of its high resolution (24mp) and small sensor which gives you a 1.5 crop factor turning the 300mm lens into a 450mm.  As for settings, Auto White Balance, Spot Metering, Aperture Priority Mode,f/11, and the lowest ISO I can get away with.  In the shot above that was 160.  More coming. Stay Tuned.

Thanks for the look and have a terrific Sunday Evening.  Hope your team wins.