The year seems to be flying past, and time is keeping me busy with a lot of things, sadly not all of them photography related. Anyway, that notwithstanding, here is this latest update. I hope you enjoy it.
Playing with the Canon 1DX Mk II
Despite a number of factors meaning getting out to do any photography has been a challenge, I have been playing around with the 1DX when the opportunity arises.
Here are some random shots taken over the past week or so. Again, the quality and detail in shots taken with this camera never cease to amaze me.
Click on each image to get the full version. It's worth noting these are all close crops of the original image, except the second blackbird photo which is a very close crop.
Note the photo of the female blackbird on the left: the second image is a close crop of the original to its left. Taken with the EF100-400mm IS II lens.
We did get down to Bolderwood in the New Forest last weekend, and it was heaving with people enjoying the summer weather. Getting any decent shots of deer were out of the question given the numbers of people there, but I did spy this male in the undergrowth. Note the antlers have a velvet layer on them, getting ready to moult late August ready for the rut in September.
And finally a bee on a flower, because, why not.
Remote camera trapping
Armed with the Camtraptions PIR sensor, my trusty Canon EoS600D armed with the 18-135mm Canon lens, and a tripod, I set up a tray of seed out in the back garden, close to the existing feeders, hoping to get some good close up shots of birds as they fed. (If you're wondering why I'm using the EoS600D when i have far better camera bodies, its because I'm not overly fussed what happens to this body given its age. I'm reluctant to leave the 1DX Mk II out in the garden for a number of reasons... )
After quickly setting everything up, the layout looked like this (click on photos below for larger image):
PIR sensor firing its beam across the seed tray, triggering the camera (mounted upside down under tripod), which was covered with a scrim net. The netting was partially to conceal it, and to offer some limited protection from the elements.
I pre-focussed the camera on the seed tray using Live View. My thought process here was having the camera in manual focus mode meant less work for it to do when it was triggered. This was a mistake, so more on this later...
With everything in place I headed indoors and sat in the dining room, looking out on the garden, waiting.
After some time a number of starlings landed on the main feeders: a collection of adults and young. Moments later they all hit the seed tray on the ground in front of the camera. I was quite excited as the camera fired off shot after shot, and was hopeful of getting some great photos.
Eventually they all flew off, having taken their fill of seed and mealworms. I headed out to recover the memory card from the camera, and without much waiting loaded the shots into Lightroom.
Then a horrible realisation hit me... I'd set the bloomin' camera up wrong, as you can see from the shots below...
... you see I'd made a number of crucial mistakes.
1. The camera was too close to the subject matter, meaning that when a number of birds hit the seed, a lot of them were cropped out of shot.
2. I'd used Manual focus and pre-focussed the camera. This meant anything along the back edge of the feeder was pin sharp, and nothing else was.
3. I was shooting at too low a shutter speed. The shots above are 1/100 second. This needed to be way higher.
As you can see this was a bit of a disaster, and I was kicking myself for being so daft.
So I re-set everything, setting the camera to Auto focus this time, increased the shutter speed and moved the camera back from the seed tray.
After a while the starlings came back, and I had some success.
As you can see, getting the camera settings right means you get decent photographs.
For reference the shots above were taken at 1/1000 second, at f/5.6, ISO 1250. Note that the camera was set to Auto White Balance, and Auto ISO given the changing light due to ever moving clouds.
There are a number of Video blogs out there, and it seems there are countless photographers happy to stick videos up on YouTube and share their knowledge with the masses.
Over the past couple of years I've watched many and to the most part they have all been of use to me. But after a while most of them all seem a bit dry and not too engaging. They are just a moving wall of facts and opinions.
Then I stumbled upon Jared Polin's videos. He is quite distinctive in his style making his video reviews engaging and humorous. I can't get enough of them and I would recommend his Video Blogs to anyone with even half an interest in photography. Check out his YouTube videos here:
That's it for now. Thanks for reading and be sure to pass any comments back via the Contact page (link at the top of this page).