Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Toys, New Toys! The Viceroy

I’ve been a little frustrated with the performance of my 70-300mm lens over the last few years. It does a good job, but I tend to push the envelope with my gear. I’ve made excuses to myself for some less than stellar results from time to time, but it had come to a head in my universe. I went through warbler migration wishing that I had some better glass.

It has been an long time observation that when I’ve got a zoom and I see a critter, I slam it to the longest focal length. And such it was with my 70-300mm. Zooms are fun, they are great, I love them…but the tradeoff is a reduction in image quality.

Enough is enough. I bit the bullet and tried “the experiment”. I picked up a prime 300mm lens. Would it make a difference? Last Saturday, I went out to give it a test run. Below are pictures that I normally wouldn’t bother taking. The Viceroy and Common Yellowthroat pictures not only push the envelop of the lens, they really ask too much.

The first field tests:

I saw what I thought was a Monarch way over head and thought that this would be tough for any lens. How would the lens do? Here is the first shot, which is full frame, un-cropped so that we have a reference.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Here is a second shot taken with the same conditions. First thing that I notice is that this “Monarch” looks a little odd. When I got back home, I found out that it is a Viceroy. I’ve been looking for one of these for a long time.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

These two shots are all the same distance, straight overhead, hand held and highly cropped. Not too shabby!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

In another “test shot”, here is one of my nemeses, the Common Yellowthroat. Look how tiny he is in the frame.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

The same photo, cropped down.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Okay, I’d only crop this tightly in “shoot first and ask questions later” situation. ISO250 F/5.6.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

How is it with bugs under normal shooting conditions? Here is a Pearl Crescent in the grass at about 6 feet.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Another reason I got this lens is to get higher quality Dragon images. Here is a Stream Cruiser shot from about 10 feet…

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

…and cropped for a nice portrait.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now a ridiculous tight crop and you can see pollen on the dragon and on the grass!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Pushing the envelope, I think I’m limited by the camera’s sensor at this point. The sensitivity was set at ISO400. (400? What was I thinking?) Aperture was set to F/8.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

I think that this lens and I will get a long. I notice that in some situations it does over expose by 1/3 of a stop, but since I’m shooting raw it’s an easy correction. This lens does not have a Vibration Reduction feature, but I’m having good luck hand holding it when the light is strong (it’s much heavier than the 70-300). When the subject cooperates as this Stream Cruiser did, and I have time to use the tripod, OMG!

Great Black-backed Gull and Eider nests

We have lots of birds breading on Cape Ann. Here are a couple of nests that most folks don’t get to see. The first up is Common Eider. Note that this is the famous “Eider Down” that you may have heard about.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

This is the source of the down.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

This Great Black-backed Gull nest was hollowed out from in a patch of nice, soft moss and lined with prickly Burdock!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

This Great Black-backed Gull nest was made from reeds.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Standing watch.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Nesting in a secluded spot.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

A nest with a view.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Check out others like this at NF Winged

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

People ask me why I don’t play golf.

Honestly, why would I want to play golf? I have enough frustration in my life.

Like Snowy Egret on top of a tree in the late afternoon sun. &*#$!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

And the Yellow Warbler that turned around just as my camera figured out what I was focusing on. #*^%!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Same Yellow Warbler. Double #*^%!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

What the #*^%!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Come on, can some one throw me a bone here?

Seriously, my camera just wouldn’t auto focus on the yellow bird with the leaves behind it.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

You’re killing me!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Triple #*^%!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

I waited 40 minutes swatting bugs for this? Ah, #*^%, #*^%, #*^%, #*^%!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Well, I’m not going to throw my camera into the water trap. Every once in a while, I swat one out of the park. Like the day I got this Northern Parula.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

American Redstart

Walking around Dogtown a week ago, I caught a glimpse of a flash of fire in the trees. It is an American Redstart!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Monday, May 28, 2012

Virginia Rail

I was out on a walk at the Ipswich River Audubon Sanctuary this morning and had a close encounter with three Virginia Rails.

I heard one calling about 10 feet from where I was standing. It started walking towards me and a second called off in the other direction. It must have been about five feet from me. The first one walked by and this is the one you see below. About five minutes later, another walked by.

They are perfectly adapted for the marsh. They are well camouflaged and move with ease without rustling the vegetation.

If you’re not a bird watcher, you may not get what a cool encounter this is. I have not “seen” one in a good 25 years. Having three sightings in 10 minutes is too cool. Getting a photo in extremely difficult conditions is just unbelievable.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yellow Flag

If you take a walk in the marshy areas of the North East this time of year, you may be rewarded with by seeing this iris. It was brought over from Europe and has gone feral. Look close and you will see an ant that on the center of the flower. It escaped my attention during the shoot.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Visit Today's Flowers

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Evening Creature Feature, Steve and the Harlequin Darner

Stream Cruiser ©2012 Steve BorichevskyI chase down a lot of dragonflies when the season is right. This morning, I saw a different dragon flying around and lighting on some grasses, but when I got within shooting range, it would take off. Oh, well, such is the life of a dragon hunter.

As I was shooting another dragon, this one came at me and kept coming. Since it wasn’t that big, I wasn’t worried about getting knocked down, so I just stayed put. Then it landed 24” below my nose!

Picture this, I’ve got a 300mm lens and camera in one hand, a tripod in the other. In a holster bag on my hip, I’ve got a 18-55 lens on a D80. Um, err, well. I looked a the tripod in one hand. I looked at the D5100 with 300mm lens in the other and I looked at my subject 24 inches below my nose. It’s like the dog that cases a car. When he catches it, what is he going to do with it?

The fascination of the creature was still fresh, however having a tripod in one hand and a D5100 with 300mm lens in the other was really not going to produce any usable material for the blog. It may have been 10 seconds or 10 minutes, I’m not sure. Then the dragon said, “Dude. Just put the camera on the tripod. It’s okay.” The though occurred to me that I had been in the sun too long, but nevertheless, I followed the dragon’s advice and put the tripod that I had in one hand down on the ground and which feed up a hand to slowly maneuver the D5100 with the 300mm lens onto the tripod head and secured it.

“There. See. That wasn’t hard. Now get that D80 out and let’s start a photo shoot. You’re going to make me famous, right?” “Why, yes”, I replied, “People from all over the world will see you.”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

“Okay, now reach your finger down here and let me climb on.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously. You’re not afraid of bugs, are you?”

“Dragons are okay,” I said. “Praying Mantis are fine, but some of those beetles with the big jaws scare the crap out of me.”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

“Dude, Ringo was a Beetle, I’m a dragon. Now get that finger down here.”

“Hold on, dragon, I’ve only got one hand and I’ve got to set this camera up with it.” “Let’s see, I don’t want to look like an amateur,” I thought, “aperture, exposure, focal length…all looks good.” “Say dragon, you are not going to freak out and fly away if point this at you, are you?”

“Dude, I just landed on you pants and let you pick me up with your finger. What do you think?”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

”Okay. Stupid question.”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

“All right then, Dragon. Just hang on.”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

“Say, are you one of those magic dragons that can grant three wishes, are you?”

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

“Steve, you’ve been in the sun too long, dragonflies don’t grant wishes. Now no one’s going to believe you. Bring me up by your face and let’s get a shot of the two of us together.”

“Sure, hold on, I’ve got to get this camera turned around and upside down.” With the camera upside-down and my thumb on the shutter released, I took a couple of shots.

Then he flew off. And as he flew off he said, “Hey, I’m a Harlequin Darner. Can you email me copies?”

That’s just what happened.

Honest.

Visit Camera Critters for more photos from the animal kingdom.

Check out others like this at Natures Footsteps Wings

Kim Smith’s Red Admirals

Many of you on the East Coast may have noticed the abundance of butterflies this spring. I would like to draw your attention to fellow Gloucester blogger Kim Smith’s informative Red Admiral post on Good Morning Gloucester. Be sure to check back tonight when I’ll have my Saturday Evening Creature Feature.

If you cuckoo for butterflies, you are welcome to stick around and see my entire butterfly collection.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Friday, May 25, 2012

Forgotten Photo Friday, Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Happy Friday everyone! I took these bug shots last June and, well, it’s about time I posted them.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

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