Thursday, 29 March 2012

Bird Photos - March 29 2012

Finally got out Thursday as the weather had improved, went for our usual walk but saw very few birds. Lots more Robins and Grackles have appeared in the last week, the Dark eyed Junco's are still around but their numbers seem to be thinning.
When I went to take my first picture I discovered my battery was dead, rather frustrated, but not as frustrated as the time we drove over an hour and I discovered I had left my battery at home in the charger. Sadly the T2i and T1i use different types of batteries so we couldn't even swap batteries when I wanted to take a picture.

We did see close to 20 Robin's flying to and from a tree, most likely feeding on berries. As I would think food would be in short supply for them this past week as it has been so cold. Posted the picture, reduced from over 8 megs to 850 kb. I counted 8 Robin's in the tree although there were many more on the ground and in nearby trees.
Raining today so next likely outing won't be until early next week.

T2i Canon 100mm f2.8 25 feet
Top left Robin Crop 

A few pictures of birds we have seen in the past
Eurasian Collared Dove - Showed up at our feeders late last summer. Interesting story on how they spread through North America, as far north as Alaska I've heard.
 Goose display - Part of a series of pictures of a Goose fight we witnessed at Fort Whyte Center
Harris's Sparrow - Started showing up at our feeders 3 years ago, last year we had 6 or 7 at our feeders for a week while they waited out bad weather. Once the weather cleared they were all gone in about 2 days.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ice Droplet Closeups - March 27 2012

Weather certainly not cooperating for us to get out and try our new lenses. It's been cold and very windy for a several days, now it is cold, breezy and raining. Weather may improve in a few days. We did get a few macro shots with Rose's new 100mm Canon macro lens. It had rained overnight then frozen so we had frozen rain droplets hanging from our tree, they were about the size of  a Q-tip head.
 Rose got this one, my favorite

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bird Photos - March 24 2012

Friday was a washout for taking pictures.
Computer wouldn't boot, took me most of the morning to determine that the video card had failed.
Getting a quick replacement is not that easy living in the country without having to drive great distances. We lucked in and found a Gigabyte GT 430 in Winkler for a decent price. We picked it up and on the way home took the back roads. We saw around 10 Gray Partridges in one field and well over 100 Tundra Swan in another. Sadly we didn't think to take our cameras along.  But I do have a picture from a few years ago taken with an Olympus E510 and a 500 mm mirror lens. Not the best quality but trying to manual focus with the tiny viewfinder on the E510 was a real challenge.
New video card is better than my old BFG 8600 GT, always suspected either the video card was not up to snuff or the monitor, it actually appears both were not very good. Pictures seem a lot more crisp with the new video card, but, the same pictures displayed on our TV from the computer are still better than the pictures displayed on my Samsung 24 inch 245BW.
Installation was actually easy, only problem was that I couldn't get the video card to detect our TV. Turns out I had disconnected the DVI cable from the computer to the TV and had the old monitor DVI cable still connected to the monitor, so I had both VGA and DVI cables to the monitor and no cable to the TV. Once I corrected this the TV was detected and displayed a much better image than my monitor.
 Tundra Swan +100 yards E510 500mm mirror lens
 Swainson's Hawk +200 feet T1i Tamron 70-300 VC
Wood Ducks in a tree 40 feet T1i 500mm mirror lens, there was also a Mallard to their right but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture before they all flew off

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 DGX 1.4X AF Teleconverter - Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD Review - March 20 2012

Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 DGX 1.4X AF Teleconverter - Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD Review

Ordered from B&H Photo, delivered ran $280, to purchase in Canada would have been over $400. 
TC  is mounted on a Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD telephoto lens. Purchased at Henry's Camera for around $500 including taxes.
For a total price of around $780 I have a 78-420mm image stabilized lens.
Lens and TC mounted on a Canon T1i.
I replaced a Canon 70-300 IS, (non L), lens with the Tamron. I am much happier with the Tamron as the Canon lens seemed to be quirky. I would hold down the shutter button and take several pictures in hopes that I would get one decent picture. With the Tamron I take 1 or 2 pictures that are superior to the images captured with the Canon lens. I've heard similar stories from other Canon 70-300 IS owners, one said he sent his in under warranty. Canon replaced his lens as the IS was defective.

TC weighs 4.7 ounces (132 grams) and is about an inch long (27mm).
Lens weighs 1.68 lbs (765 grams) and takes a 62mm filter.
T1i weighs 16.9 ounces (479 grams).
Weight of camera,TC and lens is about 38.28 ounces (1376 grams) (1.4 kg?)

I use a Crumpler Industry Disgrace Camera strap. (Image from Crumpler site), I paid around $35 delivered from McBain Camera, but was disappointed that they sent me a black strap rather than the brown one I ordered.
It is a very comfortable strap, noticed a big difference over the Canon strap included with Canon cameras.


Here are some photo's taken of the TC mounted on the T1i and 70-300 lens.

Here are a few images just to show the difference between 70-300mm and 78-420mm.
Images taken at about 15 feet, dull overcast day.

T1i 70mm
T1i 78mm
T2i 78mm
T1i 300mm
T1i 420mm
T2i 420mm

Weather was not to our liking today so we didn't get out to take any pictures. Will update this soon once we get out to take some pictures.

22 March 2012
Got a few pictures yesterday of a couple of American Tree Sparrows. I have posted a few photos. 
I should mention that both Rose and myself do not use tripods or monopods. We shoot handheld and should we ever post a sample picture using a supportive device we will certainly mention it.
Our ranking as far as photography goes might be advanced amateurs.
I cropped the photos to a size that appeared to be the best quality crop I could achieve.
The Sparrow at 20 feet was constantly moving. The two pictures are from a series of 5, being the 2nd and 5th photos. The bird flew off after the 5th photo. AF is usually quite precise, but is also dependent on light, movement and clutter. 
Here are the photos:
 20 feet Auto Focus 
 20 feet AF Crop
20 feet AF - Crop, Auto fix, sharpened in Photo Shop Elements
 20 feet AF
 20 feet AF Crop
20 feet AF - Crop, Auto fix, sharpened in Photo Shop Elements 
 30 Feet Manual Focus
 30 Feet MF Crop
30 feet MF - Crop, Auto fix, sharpened in Photo Shop Elements  

Auto focus seems to be unaffected by the TC. But auto focus is affected by light and the amount of clutter, in dimmer light the AF is slower and much less accurate, either with or without the TC.
Hope to get some more pictures but migration has just started and these have been the most cooperative birds thus far. 
With these pictures it would appear that the TC is quite compatible with my Tamron lens. Will post more pictures over time. But so far I am not disappointed with the TC, lens, camera combination.
31 March 2012 
Today was very nice so we got out to look for some birds. 
We didn't see too much and got few opportunities to take pictures, the pictures we did get were not entirely to our liking but we got some none the less.
We did see some more migratory birds so the migration is under way and we expect new birds to be arriving over the next few weeks. Here they seem to flock through, there will be many of one species that will remain for a few days to a week then another species will flock in. 
 Moth - Found that TC does not affect the range from lens to subject, still 5-6 feet Sorry but this one is a little over exposed.
 Moth head crop
 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a bit bigger than a humming bird - 25 feet Manual focus. Kinglet was on the dark side of a tree and constantly moving, AF would not lock on so had to switch to MF. Dim light and tiny bird defeated AF.
 Golden-crowned Kinglet crop
 Golden-crowned Kinglet sharpened auto fix PS Elements
 Dark Eyed Junco 20 feet
Dark Eyed Junco crop

Still haven't had a lot of luck finding birds to photograph, we hear lots of the year round birds but they are not being very cooperative. The next few weeks should bring us more opportunities and we will post some more pictures when more cooperative birds show up and we, hopefully, get some decent pictures.
So far I am pleased with the results, although we have not gotten any great pictures I think the TC will work out OK for me. Dim light does affect the AF, but, I don't think it is going to be a huge problem. 
AF seems to be unaffected by the TC other than in very dim light. 
I did have the sigma 120-400mm for a while and I think the Tamron 70-300 f4/5.6 DI VC USD and Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 DGX 1.4X AF are better than the Sigma 120-400mm. Once more birds start showing up I feel pretty confident that I will be very happy with this combination.
01 April 2012
Got out to a lake today, got some decent pictures, saw several  different types of birds and waterfowl.
Weather was nice other than a strong wind.
Western Meadowlark taken at about 25 feet from our van, had to twist in my seat to get the picture, rested camera on window to stabilize.

Meadowlark 25 feet

 Meadowlark 25 feet crop
 Meadowlark 25 feet crop sharpened auto fix PS Elements
 Meadowlark 25 feet
 Meadowlark 25 feet crop
Meadowlark 25 feet crop sharpened auto fix PS Elements

 American Tree Sparrow 20 feet
 American Tree Sparrow 20 feet crop
 American Tree Sparrow 20 feet crop sharpened auto fix PS Elements

 Ruffed Grouse 20 feet
 Ruffed Grouse 20 feet crop
Ruffed Grouse 20 feet crop sharpened auto fix PS Elements

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bird Photos - March 17 2012

Last few days have been interesting, had our first Grackle of the season yesterday and today we had our first Robin. Lots of Dark Eyed Juncos have appeared recently. A group of House Finches have put in an appearance at our feeders the last few days. We haven't seen any since last fall. 
Today we spotted a Pileated Woodpecker and heard it call once. 
Saw what I thought might be a Brown Creeper on the far side of the river but after examining the photo I took can't figure out what it is. It kind of looks like a House Sparrow, but not quite. It is also exhibiting behavior more like a creeper and it is in the wrong kind of habitat. Picture is a very large crop so it is a little blurry. People at Whatbird identify it as a Brown Creeper. 
We also heard a Hawk screech but never saw it.