TrulandPhoto

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Practice Day

The past two times I'd been on the Eastern shore of Peebles Island, I had startled a Bald Eagle from its perch on a tree in front of me. So I thought I'd take a break from making trail scenics and carry a setup more suitable for birds.

I didn't see the Bald Eagle yesterday, but there's a Double-crested Cormorant rookery on an Island across the Mohawk River from Peebles Island and the juveniles were practicing flying around. So, I took the opportunity to practice BIF (bird in flight) photography with my 5D Mark II and 300mm f/4 with 1.4X extender.

I spent about a half hour on the cliff overlooking the Mohawk River tracking Cormorants as they left the trees, flew over the river and returned to the trees. The equipment I was using is not ideal for this type of photography. The autofocus system on the 5DII is not as fast or sophisticated as on the 1D series or the 7D and using an extender slows it down even more. But, in good light and with practice, it's possible.

With the 420mm focal length lens with a full frame camera I still wasn't really close to the birds so I cropped quite a bit to get a nice shot. Here's an original frame followed by the crop.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 300mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4X II, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400 




Juvenile Double-crested Cormorants have lighter plumage than the adults, which are mostly black. You can read more about this bird here.

As I have mentioned, the 300mm f/4 IS USM is also quite useful as a lens for closeups of foliage and flowers due to it's image stabilization and close minimum focusing distance of 4.9 feet. With the 1.4X extender added between the lens and the camera I now have a 420mm f/5.6 lens and the minimum focusing distance remains at 4.9 feet creating a magnification of .33X.

The Phlox are starting to bloom now and I took the time to get some closeups with the same gear I was using for the birds in flight. Both are hand held, relying on a relatively fast shutter speed and the image stabilization to control camera movement.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 300mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4X II, f/8, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400 

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 300mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4X II, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 400
When making closeups like this the background is very important. I took some time to make sure that there were no highlights to distract attention away from the flowers. The deep shadow in the second photo was only a small area and I had to maneuver precisely to keep background light out of the shot.


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