800mm Fly By

Again from the archives, This Osprey had just hit the water, missed his catch and flew across in front of me. I was tracking him hoping he would come up with a fish, but I liked the small water droplets in his wake and the wing position even without his catch. I was using a Sigma 300-800mm zoom at 800mm, with a Canon EOS 1Ds MkII on a Wimberly Gimbel head. The Sigma is a non stabilized lens so you have to be careful and use long lens techniques, especially at 800mm, to get sharp images. I have a series of images, but was my favorite.

Leaf above Ice

Going over files from last year and found this one. When the weather starts getting colder, I like looking for interesting ice patterns in streams or along lakes and hopefully with an item in the composition for a focal point.  I found this leaf stuck in a small twig above this ice formation. I liked the early morning low sun backlighting the leaf, adding warmth, highlighting textures & patterns in the ice. Photographed with a Canon Eos 1D MkIII with a Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM @ 300mm, 1/100 @ f/8, ISO 400. I also used High Pass Sharpening in Photoshop to help bring out details & textures in the ice and leaf.

A Little Different Macro – Canon MP-E 65mm

I went out to The Celery Farm Natural Area to photograph very small dried wildflowers. I took along my Canon MP-E 65 mm 1-5X Macro. This is a very specialized macro lens that starts at 1X and goes to 5X magnification. It is more like a lens with a variable extension tube zooming out for the increased magnification. I decided to add a 1.4X teleconverter to add a little more working distance. This adds just a little bit more working distance, in some cases the front element is less than an inch away from your subject, but every bit helps. With the 1.4X Teleconverter it makes this a 91mm f/4. I was using a Canon Macro Ring Flash MR-14 EX to light these subjects as I was shooting handheld. My camera body was a Canon 1D MkIV camera body, so with the 1.3 crop of the sensor, this also adds to the lens, making it 1.3X to about 6X. For the wildflowers I left it at 1.3X for most, then later I shot some areas of the wooden lookout tower at various magnifications to show the different magnifications. I used aperture priority for some where I wanted to get some background detail, while the ones I have with dark backgrounds I used Manual exposure to darken the background and let the flash light the subject.

Full image for an idea of scale and subject


One of the smaller dried wildflowers @ 1.3X, lit with ring lash, no ambient light, for darker background

Larger Dried Wildflower @ 1.3X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposure, ambient light for background 1/10 of a second


Dried Wildflower @ ~3X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposure, 1/80 sec ,positioned for dark background_43G4625

Dried Wildflower Bud @ ~2X, handheld, lit with ring flash for main exposureambient light for background 1/60 of a second_43G4521

Reference shot for examples of scale
_43G4646 scale

~ 2X  Magnification, Carriage bolt magnification detail_43G4545 1x

~ 4X  Magnification,, Carriage bolt magnification detail_43G4556 5x+

~ 6X  Magnification, Wood grain and with slight crack in wood grain around Carriage bolt_43G4579 6x v2

Shoot the Moon

I always look at a full moon and say, I have to photograph the full moon. But usually something comes up that stops me from doing just that. This time I persisted and did a quick few shots. I used a Canon 1D MkIV with the Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens with a Canon 1.4 Series III teleconverter, which give an effective focal length of 728mm @ f/5.6 between 1.3X crop camera body and the 1.4X teleconverter. I used manual exposure and used an exposure of 1/500 sec @ f/8, ISO 400. I underexposed just a little and brought it up in photoshop to hold details. I wanted to use f/11 or f/16, but I was handholding the camera and wanted a fast shutter speed for a crisper image. This post came about because it will be a full moon on Dec 17 and I started thinking I have to try again with a longer lens and try to do better this time and bring a tripod. Give it a try.

Walk in the Woods

I took a leisurely walk around the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, NJ on Sunday looking for Fall Still Life images. I found a few I liked and also a few general interest Fall images as I was walking along the path. Here are some of what I found. I used my 1D MkIV with the Canon 70-300mm DO lens for the longer zoom range which comes in handy for a wider range of images, especially if you do not know what you will come across while on your walk. It also works well with extension tubes for closeup images when you come across them. The 70-300mm DO makes a great walk around lens especially with the Image Stabilization. I usually carry a 12mm & 20mm extension tubes with me, along with 12″ silver/gold collapsable reflector & 12″ diffuser for either reflecting light into a subject or for diffusing harsh sunlight.







Painted Turtle 
_43G3180 v2


Milkweed Two Image Panorama_43G2655 v4

Last Flight at Blackwater NWR

Going through my older files from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, I came across this series that I never worked on. Blackwater has great sunsets because of its proximity to the coast with the moisture in the air. This was shot in December, near the end of daylight. I like the sun’s rays coming down through the clouds, giving streaks of sunlight in the lower clouds. This one lone bird was flying through the sky under the dark higher cloud bank. The photo just made me think  “Last Flight of the Day.” Sometimes you can see large flocks of birds going through the evening sky, but late on this day there was just one lonely bird heading home, which I thought gave an interesting look. I usually do not like having the subject in the middle of the frame, but in this instance I chose this one because the bird is so small it was not as powerful off to either side and looked unbalanced. This was shot with a Canon 7D with a Canon 400mm DO f/4 telephoto lens. Exposure 1/1250 @ f/8, ISO 400.

Autumn Mute Swans

2 Mute swans flying into a colorful Autumn background. I liked the formation flying these 2 Mute Swans were keeping as they flew few laps around this small lake. They flew lower for the first go round, then on the second lap they gained a little altitude and flew across the colorful fall background. I thought the pair of white swans contrasted nicely with the reddish leaves and the darker grayish area on the right made it look like a B&W image blending into color as the swans flew into it. This was shot with a Canon EOS 1D MkII with a Canon 100-400mm zoom @ 400mm with a Canon 1.4X teleconverter giving an effective focal length with the 1.3 crop of the camera and 1.4X of the Teleconverter of 728mm @ f/8. I usually stop down a little more when using a teleconverter, but using a lens that was @ f/5.6 and with the Teleconverter making it f/8, I chose an f/stop of f/11 to help sharpen it up a little but still give me a shutter speed fast enough to stop the action of the flying birds.

Colors of Fall Starting to Fade


Here in the Northeast the Fall colors are beginning to fade. I met my friend at the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale NJ one morning to see what we could find before the Fall colors turned into brown, dried out leaves. I thought we had a good chance to find bright subjects that would stand out against the fading or subdued foliage. I decided to travel light, taking my Canon 70-300mm DO lens on a EOS 1D MkIV body which gave me a good focal length range in a small, lightweight package. I also used a Canon Flash set at -1 stop just to help fill in my subjects in the early morning light and helped me shoot handheld instead of using a tripod. The Canon 70-300mm DO has a poor reputation because of its Diffraction Optics, but it is one of my favorite lenses. It is about an inch shorter , but wider than a normal 70-300mm lens. It also has Image Stabilization, but I believe it takes a second for it to kick in, so I take this into account also. Shooting Raw files and adjusting them in Adobe Camera Raw makes this lens shine and a winner. Getting back to photographing, I tried different crops, shooting angles, and combining bright or vibrant subjects with darker subjects or backgrounds. I was also trying to place my subjects on a pleasing softer backdrop, so I used an f/ stop of f/7.1 or f/8 to keep the backgrounds simpler. Hope you enjoy them.


















_43G3423 _43G3615


First Frost Here in Northern NJ

We finally got a First Frost here in Northern New Jersey. It was not a heavy frost and seemed to be late in coming. Usually we get first frost much earlier here in October. Being it was much later in the month, the leaves were really dried out and duller. The minute the sun hit the leaves the frost melted so I had to work in the shaded areas. I used my Canon MkIV with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OS macro. Because it was early in the morning and in the shade I raised my ISO to 1250 at f/5.6 which usually would give me a shutter speed of about 1/60 sec. I also tried to shoot straight down or as little  of an angle as possible to get greater depth of field since I was at f/5.6. Hope you enjoy them.

Leaf Abstract

With all the leaves starting to turn color, I thought I would try some extreme closeups of leaf details. I could use a standard macro, or a Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5X macro, but I decided to try something different. I mounted an old FD Canon manual focus 50mm f/1.8 lens with a m43 adapter on my Panasonic GH2. Then I added an achromatic closeup lens. An Achromatic lens or achromat is a lens that is designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration, which limits distortion. It is basically like a closeup filter to get closer to your subject. You do not need extension tubes, You use them like a filter on the front of the lens. You can get very inexpensive ones, which are usually one piece of glass to very good ones with multiple  pieces of glass. They range in price from $15 to thousands of dollars, but you can get good ones from Canon, Nikon or Raynox for a reasonable price. I have many different kinds that I have collected over the years, but used a set here with 3 different strengths, 6X, 12X & 24X. These just screw into an adjustable mount that clips onto the front of the lens. Just be careful to get as parallel to your subject as you can. The leaves were blowing in the wind, so I tried to capture the images in-between gusts. Here are a series of images using all three. So give it a try, they are handy to have in a pocket when you need them, without the weight and size of having a macro lens with you. Do they replace a macro lens? No, but come in handy, especially for some extreme closeups.





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