Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Calumet 7300 tripod review

Yes, I am fully aware that many people advise never to save on a tripod. I know Thom Hogan wrote a good piece on the subject. http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

However, I just didn't have a $1000 to spend on a tripod and I really wanted one anyway. I decided to look at the budget end of the market and see if I could find something useable for less than a 100 euros.
I like calumet as a shop. Unlike some other bigger shops in my country the staff are friendly, know their stuff and aren't pushy. When I got a monopod I topped it of with a calumet head. That's since outlasted the monopod. So, when I went looking for a tripod I remembered calumet's own brand.

When I googled I mainly found people asking questions about this, not many sharing opinions so here's a first look. This is going on vacation with me for some field testing, I will update after that.

Other options in this price range are Velbon, which is nice enough. In fact I was using my dad's old tripod which dates back to the days when aluminum was a novelty and which seems to be made of parts left over from some cold war warplane. Other options include hama and cullman (seem to be identical) and various other noname brands none of which really appealed to me.

So, I went for the calumet 7300.

It can extend high enough that I hardly have to stoop to look trough the viewfinder (and I'm 2 meters tall)

For extremely low shooting you can remove the bottom bit of the central pillar.

The head is a simple but well made 3-way:

Which includes a tiny spirit level. Controls are simple but well constructed.

The tripod is able to support a d300 + sigma 150-500 without getting wobbly (unless it's windy)

Pulling up on these clamps with calumet cast into them allows you to spread the legs further. You have a choice of 3 positions.

When you get it as low as this it gets a bit bouncy. Sliding the legs in helps with that but it's not able to provide the level of support the serious birders get from their gitzo tripods

white throated dipper madness

The whole tripod weighs in at about 2600 grams and comes with a 3 year warranty. I don't think it's an excellent tripod but I do think it offers very good value for money. At a price where you'd struggle to find a basic set of Manfrotto legs you get a capable, no-frills tripod. To my mind it does show that budget tripods are not all bad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I like herons. We get 'm in two basic flavours. Tame, sometimes tame enough that if you go fishing somewhere it will sit next to you ready to snatch whatever you catch before you can get the hook out.


Then there's the more or less wild variety. A lot less used to humans and incline to take off if they think you get too close. This one didn't, judging by the beak it's so young it has not yet learned to act wild.

Herons have another advantage for us photographers, they're one of the few birds with a build-in grey card (you know, those cards with 18% grey you can get to really nail your exposure).

Holding Grey Card

It's true, meter on a grey area of the bird using spot metering and you will nail the exposure each and every time!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grasshopper Warbler
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yesterday I got my first ever chance to photograph a grasshopper warbler. These are generally shy birds that are often heard but rarely seen. The characteristic sound is a very long rattle, almost like a rattle snake. I heard this one long before I got a chance to see it. This was an unusually tame bird, I got the chance to take 40 pics at a comfortable distance. Light wasn't from the best direction but this way it does work I think. While I was observing it I was stunned at how long such a tiny bird can make so much noise.

Here's the sound one of these makes:courtesy of wikimedia

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Six-spot Burnet
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Anyone who's spend any time outdoors shooting wildlife and insects will sooner or later find that disruptions in a normal pattern are what catches your attention. The most common is, of course, movement, anything that moves catches your attention. But, it can also be shapes, some things draw your attention immediately because the shape does not fit what your subconscious expects to find. Somewhat trickier is colours. I noticed this burnet because the colour clashes with the pink plant it is sitting on. So I got down on hands and knees, mounted my trusty 100mm tokina and got out a flash and a cable. Some additional light from just on the left side and I got a dozen nice shots. I think this one is one of the nicest because it brings out the antenna but I still need to sort out the rest.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ant eye to eye
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
A red wood ant. These insects fascinated me ever since I was a little boy. There's something about the size of them and their anthills that impressed me.
Over in the west where I live these are not very common but in the wooded areas in the south you find these a lot more. They will feed on absolutely anything they can drag into their nest, they certainly enjoyed a few mosquitoes I swatted.

Shooting was challenging in a new way. Of course there's not much light and I didn't feel like holding a flash in one hand, a camera in the other (yes, this is shot handheld)while balancing over an anthill so I just cranked up the iso a bit and did my best.
No, the challenging is following a specific and and focussing on it. There's a certain effect that shoals of fish and some herd animals like zebras used to confuse predators and it was having the same effect on me, confusing!

I think I shot 30-40 pics and got three that I liked, two of which went on flickr. You can see the other here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/j_wijnands/5884976407/

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I love aviaries. They offer a unique chance to get good pictures of species that are otherwise difficult to find and even more difficult to shoot. To get a shot like this in the wild I'd need to do a lot of reconnaissance and spend a few hours in a hide.

Photographically this is relatively easy. Avoid blown highlights, get down to as low as you can, relax and shoot.

Via Flickr:
A male ruff in Blijdorp zoo

Monday, June 27, 2011

common tern
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Let's start something else, a photograph a day type of post. Just a picture and the story behind it.

I noticed this bird hunting along a channel that also had some tufted ducks, a mute swan family and a few grebes. I like terns, nice colouring and interesting behaviour the way they swoop down and plunge into the water to catch a fish. In flight it reminds you of a black headed gull sometimes until you seem them close to eachother, the tern is significantly smaller.

Now, like all mainly white birds these are tricky, it's all too easy to blow the white bits. Additionally you want a nice and high shutter speed to capture any sharpness.

So, I metered on something middle brownish on the ground and set the camera manually for it. Then a matter of tracking and keeping focus.

Nikon D300, Sigma 150-500
Exposure 1/3200 sec
Aperture f/6.3
Focal Length 500 mm
ISO Speed 500
Subject Distance 21.1 m

Had to crop because it was in the bottom left of the frame.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pentax Q, the right camera at the right time?

Earlier this year I've blogged about what I expected of Nikon's mirror-less offering (which still has not been released). At that time I'd expected Canon to also come up with such a camera. I never expected the relatively small company Pentax to come up with a radically different mirror-less camera. But they did and here is my review of the Pentax Q (based on the press release)


Now, a quick refresher on camera technology. For years we could divide the digital cameras on the market in two categories. Compact cameras which did not have changeable lenses and DSLR cameras which did. In this picture you can see why they call it a single lens reflex.

The light that enters the lens is reflected upwards by a mirror which then goes trough a prism (or a reflective coating on the cheaper models) and reaches the eye of the photographer. It's been a more or less unchanged design for decades. It works, you see what you are going to shoot but the mirror takes up space and the mechanism that moves it out of the way takes up more space. This effectively places limits on how small you can make one of these. Olympus' E-420 and 620 are about as small as you can make of these cameras.

In 2009 Olympus changed all this with the introduction of the E-P1 "Pen". A small camera, no mirror just a screen at the back but it still featured changeable lenses. This allowed them to make a camera that was significantly smaller as you can see in this picture with a 14-42 kit lens on the left.

That lens is the kind of big thing you see in the first drawing.
Because of the interchangeable lens this class of cameras is also called EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens)

Mirrorless in 2011

Fast forward to 2011. Olympus and Samsung have a nice range of cameras and lenses using the M 4/3 mount. Samsung is working on building their NX series and Sony entered the market in a rather massive way with their NEX series of e-mount cameras. A complete list can be found here. From the first, rather clumsy, Olympus we've seen a rapid development. The number of available lenses has progressed nicely. 3rd party manufacturers are also the market and, because these mounts are smaller, there's adapters available to mount all sort of lenses on these cameras.

Of course holding a combination like this, a Pen with a 180mm Nikon, stable at arm's length so you can use the screen will be a challenge.

Pentax enters the market

The last few years Pentax often gave the impression of being an "also-ran" in the highly competitive DSLR market. Good cameras, good lenses, excellent backward compatibility but somehow they seemed not very innovative and easily forgotten.

And then, suddenly a press release about a mirrorless camera that was different. From dpreview.com:

To make clear what the rather opaque 1/2.3" figure actually means, it equates to a surface area of around 28mm2. This is around 1/8th the size of the sensor used in Micro Four Thirds cameras and 1/13th the size of the the APS-C format sensor in Sony's NEX. The advantage of this is that the lenses for the Q mount can be made a lot smaller than those for other systems, but the downside is that the image quality is more likely to resemble that of a compact camera than a DSLR.
(source: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/pentaxQ/)

So, a small sensor in a small camera. How small is easily seen in this picture on dpreview:
It's actually small enough to make a Sony NEX look big!
This small sensor and the lack of a real grip (The fat part you see on the Sony) will be sufficient to cause any serious photography writer to dismiss this camera out of hand as being nothing more than a toy. Thom Hogan, a writer and photographer who I deeply respect, has already done so and I suspect many more will follow. He's even compared it to the 110 cassette SLR from late 1970s. For those of you who are too old, it was a SLR camera based on the tiny 110 film cassette. It came out as 110 was already going out of favour. Read more about it here on camerapedia.

Now if we look at the camera (pics courtesy of Pentax' press release)

We do indeed see a tiny camera with a cute lens. From the nice retro leather case to the flash that can pop up a bit on an arm, thought has gone into the deisgn. Let's look at the features.

HD Video

These days everyone has a big HD television in their home and people are looking for cameras that can do HD video. Doesn't matter that the quality comes nowhere near professional quality on most, it needs to do HD because consumers know HD=good. The Q does not disappoint here. 1920x1080 pixels in 30fps. No word yet on the quality, the length of the clips or what autofocus does during recording.


Bokeh is a japanese word describing what the out of focus areas of a picture look like. Go to any place where inexperienced photographers meet and sooner or later you see the word leading up to the purchase of a 35 or 50mm f1.8 lens.

Bokeh Baby

Pentax ticks the box. From the press release:
The PENTAX Q comes equipped with newly developed bokeh control function, which allows user to capture the image with obtrusive objects in the field of view optimally defocused. With this function, the camera will automatically judge the focused subject as well as relative distance of each object from the camera in the field of view to apply optimal defocus effect to each object to stand out the main subject(s). This function will allow even a first-time digital photographer to easily capture the images with such effects as background defocus or foreground defocus that otherwise require certain extent of familiarity with the photography.

Now, how this works remains to be seen. It could be some sort of clever software trick, it could simply be a complicated way of saying aperture priority. Pentax gave it some thought and made sure the box is ticked.


Once again, let's go to that photography novice discussion board. Take a " which camera to buy?" discussion and sooner or later someone will say "I prefer Canon's colours over Nikon's". Every camera manufacturer tweaks jpg output trying to find the balance between accurate and crowd pleasing. On the Q pentax addresses this with these "smart effect modes"
• Brilliant Color: Creates a lively atmosphere by raising the saturation level almost to the point of color saturation.
• Unicolor Bold: Creates an extremely high contrast image that retains one particular color in the image.
• Vintage Color: Produces a toy-camera-like effect, with a choice of several different finishing touches.
• Cross Processing: Produces a unique image with unusual colors, as if treated with the cross processing** used in film photography.
• Warm Fade: Creates a low contrast image with the white balance slightly shifted to pink shades.
• Tone Expansion: Produces a dramatic image with an artistic finishing touch, close to an intensified HDR (High Dynamic Range) effect.
• Bold Monochrome: Produces a low-key, high contrast image with enhanced sh
Effortless Bokeh control

So we see the outlines of the target audience. Check the apple or android market places. There's a ton of apps dedicated to vintage, black and white or cross processing. It's hip!

Other options

Sensor cleaning, check! Image stabilisation, check! Facial recognition, 25 AF points, aspect ratios of 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1, 9 shot multiple exposure, all check!


Here I see Pentax making a bold move. The camera is sold as a kit with a 47mm f1.9 equivelant lens. That's as close as you can get to the standard 50mm lens that came with any DSLR from the 1960s untill well into the 1980s. It also stops any zoom factor dead in it's tracks, it doesn't have any zoom! Zoom is sold seperately as the 27.5-83mm f2.8-4.5 lens for $299.

What truly impresses me is a $129 fish eye! Fish eyes are hot with a certain crowd. The cheap screw-on lenses are doing well on ebay as are the 8mm f3.5 lenses that are sold under various names (bower, tiffen, samyang) This kind of picture is a must for a certain audience:

Skater au palais de Tokyo

Another populair thing is toy cameras. Lomography is hot, Diana toy cameras are sold for insane prices by trendy stores like urban outfitters and the newbie boards are filled with questions like "Do I need lomography film?" and "where can I get 120 film processed and printed?" The craze has gone so far that you can eaven mount toy camera lenses on your Canon or Nikon.

Pentax knows this and they are selling a toy camera wide angle and tele lens for less than $100!


In my opinion this camera has everything to be a big hit with a certain audience if Pentax plays it's cards right. It needs to reach a price point where it can compete with the Sony NEX and the Nikon D3100 and Canon T3. It needs a hip add campaign and perhaps a bit of guerilla marketing as well. If Pentax can do that then they will have a product with a strong appeal to a certain part of the 16-30 demographic. I can picture many teen girls who "just love photography" whining to get one for christmas.


Press release on Pentax UK
DPReview's preview
Pentax USA

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to clean up memory on your Android phone

Yesterday my Android phone started complaining about low memory. A quick check gave me Navigon of course as a main consumer of space. 26mb and it refuses to shift to the SD card. It wasn't the top scorer though, that was contacts storage.

Some further investigation gave me http://android.appstorm.net/how-to/clear-space-without-rooting/ with some good step by step information on how to handle that.

While creating a backup of my gmail contacts I noticed that there were 2100 of them. Now I don't even know 210 people let alone 2100. So I dug into gmail and it seems it's added everyone I ever mailed to my contacts.

Anyway, using the instructions above I managed to shrink my contacts storage to 424 kb.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to save battery life on an HTC Desire

Early this year I bought an HTC Desire to replace the horrible Nokia 5800 I had. Nifty little phone, I like it a lot but it eats trough a battery charge in a day or so. I finally got to grips with that. Here's my tips
  • Disable dynamic wallpaper
  • Disable any radios you do not use (bluetooth and wifi especially)
  • Disable Wifi positioning (settings- location- use wireless networks)
  • Set phone to GSM only if you don't need data (settings-wireless & networks -Mobile Networks -Network mode)

Now I get three days out of a single charge instead of just one day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gray Heron catching a fish

I'm on a rather busy and intense project at the moment so whenever I can I take the camera with me to the office and go for a walk in my lunch break. Lovely way to keep the stress under control.

Today was decent weather as well for a change. Barely out of the office I spotted my very first Green Woodpecker! Not a good picture unfortunately.

A little further I spotted a grey heron against some dried out reeds. Now these birds are a common feature of the water rich parts of our country (which is most of it really) but despite being common I like them. Big enough that even a 300mm will do if you apprach with care. Colourful enough to make a nice shot most of the time.

I'd just shot a frame thinking I'd get a nice portait out of it when suddenly it struck and caught a fish.

Grey heron catches fish

Grey heron catches fish

Grey heron catches fish

Grey heron catches fish

I was set for a portrait, barely set in fact so the shutter speed was slower than it should have been but because these birds are big and stationary hunters I could get away with it.

Timing from the first splash, which I excluded thinking it's not that interesting, to the fish swallowed took about 5 seconds.

All pics are clickable for the bigger versions

Monday, March 07, 2011

A simple landscape

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
This was originally part of a panorama when I noticed this would make a fine B&W. I ran it trough Nik's silver efex and accidently slided the layer opacity back a bit and was surprised on how nice that turned out.

This will not draw in the crowds on flickr but I really like it, the lack of colour somehow emphasizes the emptiness of the landscape.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Masterchef 2011 is all messed up.

I liked Masterchef in most of it's incarnations. The celeb edition didn't do all that much for me but on the whole I found it nice to watch. The format works and the English edition was shot very well. Attractive lighting, nice colours, it looked like the motion version of a high end cookbook.

As an example, check this clip.

And now this:

Which looks to me like they got a set designed by Gordon Ramsey, sacked the old crew and hired camera and light people that are used to doing gameshows.

I don't know, perhaps it gets better after the first round but this is no longer on my list of excellent food shows. Too bad!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I've started to blog in Dutch as well as in English. My Dutch blog can be found here: http://wijnands.tweakblogs.net/blog/ Apparantly I'm more succesful there, my two posts are rapidly moving towards a 1000 pageviews.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Am I too hard on myself?

Goosander fighting
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Spent sunday morning walking, not the greatest weather. On my way back I decided to take a slight detour and see if there was anything interesting in the canal. Goosanders, a load of them and obviously feeling the spring in their wings already.

I spent at least 15 minutes watching this, started out with 5 males, 3 females but the group got larger.

I like this shot for the composition, the exposure is decent but I see also what's wrong with it, mainly the noise.

Now I wondering.. am I being too hard on myself? Birding is tricky enough and this is as good as it's going to get in a somewhat shaded canal with a solid overcast sky.

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's going to be an interesting Nikon year

Thom Hogan published this on the 26th of january.

  • D3100. Nikon's entry DSLR until late 2011 or more probably early 2012.
  • D5000. No longer in production, some still in the sales channel. A strong candidate for replacement in the first half of the year.
  • D7000. Still in short supply and should remain Nikon's top consumer DSLR until at least summer of 2012.
  • D300s. No longer in production, many still in the sales channel. A strong candidate for replacement between now and September.
  • D700. Approaching three years old. A strong candidate for replacement in the first half of the year.
  • D3s. Will be replaced by the D4 in August.
  • D3x. Probably obsoleted by the D4 in August, but not certain.
Now I know Thom a bit, nice guy, good photographer, writes extremely well and has, in my opinion, perhaps the best outsider view on Nikon.

Interesting for the foreseeable future:

D5000: Bit of an outsider in the current lineup. The D3100 is an impressive competitor for this camera, only real thing the D5000 has going for it over the D3100 is the foldout screen. If this is sold out that leaves a big gap between the D3100 and the D7000. Will Nikon fill that gap? Everyone expects them to but I still have doubts.

D300s: The workhorse for the serious amateur and a good backup body for a lot of pros. The D7000 rivals it on a lot of features except build and AF. When a camera in this class is due for replacement we tend to get rumours fairly early on. I've not heard anything credible yet. So either Nikon is keeping it close to the chest and there's a lot of them still in channels or they expect the D7000 to keep that niche for a little while.

D700: Rumours of a successor have been going around for at least a year. Not the volume product the D300s was but a very vocal minority is yelling for a replacement. My instict is that this is the next camera we will see.

Tricky to predict.
  • some sort of 80-400 replacement, likely to be just a bit different and featuring AF-S and VR and a hefty pricetag.
  • Probably another high-end expensive prime or two.
  • A 300mm f4 AF-S with VR is almost a certainty, I've had a Nikon rep admit as much to me personally.
  • A DX budget priced surprise. The 35mm f1.8 did extremely well, the 85mm f3.5 micro sells decently. One of the most common complaints from the first time buyer is that the 50mm f1.8 lacks autofocus on the baby Nikons.
With the SB-700 and SB-900 in the lineup I don't expect anything new there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

business park pheasant

business park pheasant
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Sometimes it still amazes me what you can find on the edges of a business park. This male pheasant I've seen around a few times before. It spotted me, got up and made a show of pecking at the ground. When he thought I'd gone he resumed a position on a piece of fallen wood and got back to relaxing.

What also amazes me is the lack of light we have in this time of year. Solid overcast and you're shooting high iso and struggling for a decent shutter speed.

Something else that's clear here is one of the negative effects of using an optically stabilized lens, the Sigma 150-500 OS to be exact. The subject is reasonably sharp but the background looks very restless.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I just won an Ipad, now what?

In a lottery at work I was one of the lucky few to win an iPad. The basic model with 16gb and WiFi but still... I almost never win things so I was glad.

Then I got thinking.. what the **** am I going to do with it? I've got a decent PC in the living room for the family. I got the standard issue laptop from my employer which is good enough for a bit of internet access from the couch. I've got a basic nokia series 40 phone with a private SIM and a Nokia 5800 with a SIM provided by my employer.

I access the internet mainly from my laptop, occasionally from the Nokia 5800 if there's wifi access. I don't travel via public transport.

So... should I sell the iPad? Or keep it?

Monday, January 10, 2011

ijsvogel / kingfisher
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yes, I know, now the quality I like to publish. But I was just so thrilled to get this shot.

When I was a kid in the 1970s these were extremely rare (as was the cormorant) but with the cleaner waters from the mid 80s onwards they made a comeback. Harsh winters like 2009/2010 hit these little birds hard but not as hard as some people feared.

I found this little fellow during my lunchtime walk not far from the office where I work.

Normally these have two speeds, creating a blue blur over the water at a 150km/h (or so it seems) or sitting like this. They are easily scared and hard to approach. This was at 15 meters at the very least through a lot of small branches. Lousy shot but I was so happy to finally get it!

Now, to make up for the quality of this:

great titheron on ice

Geotagging with a Nokia 5800

After earlier attempts with Nokia's sports tracker proved to be a bit of a challenge I decided to see if I could use my Nokia 5800, a Series 60 symbian phone with build-in GPS as a GPS logger.
Nokia's sports tracker works, sort of. It can log a route but persists in using local time in your logs. It's also typical Nokia software aimed at the technologically challenged people Nokia loves to have as a customer.

Briefly I looked at dedicated GPS solutions for cameras like Nikon's GP-1, which is rather expensive at more than 200 euros. I found that Nikon allows you to connect your own GPS setup, they even make a cable for it, MC-35, which is almost as expensive as the GPS receiver you need in addition to it. There's instructions on how to make that cable or how to make your own GPS receiver for your Nikon like this, this, this and this work of art. All of these require a basic skill in electronics and some parts adding up to about $100. A lot better than what Nikon charges you. Then it hit me, I got a cellphone which I carry a lot of the time which is a so called "smartphone" (although calling a symbian phone smart is stretching the meaning of the word to breaking point in my opinion) and which has a GPS built in. Despite the earlier fail with that Nokia app there must be something useable out there.

So, googling a bit and I found TTGPSlogger. It's freeware, in 0.4 and available for most flavours of symbian. It also seems to have been abandonned, no recent updates. It does include good installation instructions (do read the bit about signing your download!)

Once installed it will be on your applications list. Start it up, go to settings and on the tab "output" set memory in use to your storage card.

Out in the field, start the program, allow it to get a fix. As you can see in this screenshot it also displays sat time and system time. It's very important that you ensure your camera is set as close as possible to the sat time. Any difference here will result in inaccuracy in the tagging of the images.

Once you've confirmed that, hit "start". It will prompt you which format you want to record, I choose gpx because that's the most widely recognized format. Once you finished your walk hit stop.

Now, when you get home you have a few options, merge the tags before you edit or afterwards. I prefer to do it afterwards because it leaves me with fewer images to tag. I choose geosetter to do the job for me since it's free and very actively maintained. Download, install with default settings.
Next get the .gpx file that you recorded and put it in the same folder as the images you want to tag. Hit CTRL+G and confirm the defaults. Let the program run. Press ctrl+S to save your action and that's it!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

10km and all I got to show for it...

fallow deer
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Is this and a couple of Whooper Swans.

Ah well, at least I had some exercise and fresh air. Oh, and my new geotagging setup works, more about that later.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A long sunday walk

Sunday January 2nd my wife took the kids to a musical leaving me with 6 hours to myself. And what better to spend that time than to put on my hiking boots and take a long stroll trough my favourite nature reserve, the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.


Another accidental blue tit. If you happen to be in their way while they are on a fouraging route and you're really careful not to make any sudden moves you can get shots like this. A very common bird but I do like them a lot, rather colourful and great fun to watch.

I took this unusual amount of time to explore an area where I'd never been before and could not resist this:


I opted for an HDR for this scene and ended up keeping it a bit dark, it does more justice to the scene somehow.
After this shot I left the paths and went cross country for a bit and was lucky enough to capture a buzzard and a jay in flight. Birds in flight is definitely something I need to practice more.



Not at all bad but I'm nowhere near satisfied either. Of course what doesn't help is that even with a 500mm you still got a considerable working distance, you end up cropping so any mistake is magnified.

Next up some water birds. With a lot of the main bodies of water still mostly frozen a lot of birds take to the smaller but faster flowing bodies of water. Challenge there is that you have little or no shelter.

Tufted duck

A female tufted duck.


A little grebe. Scruffy looking fish eating bird.

Now the goosanders have been giving me trouble ever since I got the big sigma. The female is a bit skittish but not that challenging. The male is. Just before I shot these two males got spooked and lifted off. I got half a dozen shots in but my camera on shutter priority either blows the body or makes the head loose all detail. I need to really rethink my way of shooting these birds.

goosander female

goosander male

I also got a few panorama shots but still need to finish processing those.