Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It was raining hard when I left the house at 6AM this morning.  Cherokee Lake was the destination and I was ready for a harsh morning.
I replaced the 500mm lens with a 70 to 300mm Canon lens this morning because the 300mm is a bit faster lens, requires less light.  The morning was very, very overcast and the 500mm would have been totally useless.  I wasn't on the water long before I missed the 500mm lens big time.  Even with all it's faults, I'd rather conjure up ways to make it work in bad situations than to use a lens of lesser magnification that is easier to operate in those same less than desirable situations - especially low light.
The 300mm works really well when in closer to the subject, but critters won't sit around, wait and watch while you stealthily creep, crawl or float directly toward them.  The big 500mm can surgically shoot through holes in foliage to capture the image beyond.  The 300mm can't do that.  It will try to focus on the edge of the hole.  Frustrating!
The 500mm is heavy and harder to hold to my face for long periods of time, but the pain is worth it.  the problem with that lens is that it requires a lot of light to achieve high enough shutter speeds to stop movement (wing beats).  I half lay across the boat seat or lean my entire right side against the boat's tower and sometimes kneel and rest the bottom of the long lens on the rail of the boat, as long as the boat isn't rocking.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't.  One must be creative to absolutely eliminate camera movement.  1/30th of a second is a long time for a camera shutter speed to remain open.  I often shoot with that lens hand held at that low speed.  Usually one out of four shots is acceptable.  That's better than shooting with a 300mm and all the shots are too far away and not crisp enough to crop as large as the original shot from a 500mm focal length would be.
Notice the reflection on the surface of the water.  It actually looks artificial.  That's because the 70-300mm Canon lens I have can not be fitted with a polarizer filter.  The barrel of the lens turns when the lens focuses eliminating the possibility of using thee polarizer.  The polarizer must be fixed in one position to function.  The focusing lens will rotate with the barrel.  All lenses are not like that and I believe there are very few being manufactured with a rotating lens barrel today.  Point is that my 500mm has a fixed barrel and operates a hundred percent of the time with the polarizer in operation.  None of the shots in this entry are influenced by a polarizer filter.
The water looks abnormal.  Gotta have a polarizer.
Notice the reflection on the water above and below.  A polorizer filter would eliminate that issue.
The 300mm delivers much better panoramic pictures.  Of course, a 135mm will deliver better ones and a 28mm even better.  But, when using a telephoto, the 300mm is a good pick if one's work will be divided between scenic shots and wildlife shots.  The wildlife shots are the ones that will suffer.  I'm not willing to sacrifice the edge a 500mm delivers.
The 150 - 500mm lens would magnify these images far too large.  They would lose the impact of infinite distance.  The 70 - 300mm worked well for these two shots.
The great egret in the picture below is an integral part of the scenic shot.  Therefore, it isn't necessary to bring him in close as he is not "the" subject.  He is just part of the overall view.
I like that shot.  Notice the lack of reflection off the water.  The sun was directly behind me and not off to either side.  Lucky.  The 70 -300mm worked really well for this shot.  I'm pleased.
I really like the shot above.  It's what I call a wow shot.  I knocked the camera a couple notches down from what the light meter indicated to get a contrasty white on dark background effect.  I like it alot.  The shot below, however, was an attempt to bring the egret in close and make him the center piece.
The 300mm didn't get it done.  The egret appears too far away.  Any attempt to move closer will spook him and the moment lost.  The 500mm would bring him in twice the size shown.
The group of fishing boats, below, came out good.  They are a part of the overall picture.  They will catch your eye, but they are just a piece of the bigger scene.
The 300mm worked good here too.  The 500mm would have done a good job also if the 150mm end of it was employed.
The water is not acceptable, however.  It looks so phony.  Polarizers are essential when shooting on the water.
And, finally, I threw this stuffed rabbit out onto the grass to test the lens on the color brown.  Ha - did ok I'd say.
I'll be on the river in the morning and the 150 - 500mm lens will be on the camera.  I'm not taking any chances of running into an otter, eagle or beaver with a lens that requires me to get close.  Can't get that close - not in a 22 foot white boat with a 150 horsepower noise maker engine on the back of it.  It will be very overcast again, but we'll see what turns up.  See ya.