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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30th, 2011 - A outing to Strawberry Hills Shopping Center

"Hey...I'm WALKIN' HERE!!!"

A crow strutting his way across the street near the Scottsdale Exchange. He nearly got hit by a car but that didn't faze him. Acted like he owned the street.

Red Rosebushes in the Chevron gas station parking lot

Just a small post, but didn't want to leave the post count total for the month of August at 13 (I'm superstitious!).

Thanks Darrell...for your article...on lens acquisition...

My friend and digital photography author, Darrell Young has a great blog. Darrell Young Blogspot Blog. And in that blog it touches one of the best (and worst) parts of photography: the acquisition of lenses. Darrell's article: Lenses: Pleasure and the Pain of Being A Photographer I just have one thing to say...and that's whenever I take a look at the Nikon Lens catalog I end up like Pavlov's dog and all sense flies out the window. It's the same thing when I'm at the camera store looking at the big cardboard boxes containing the metal CT-602 case along with the coveted Nikon AF-S 600mm f4 VRII IF-ED lens packaged so lovingly inside...they usually end up handing me a mop and bucket to clean up my own drool puddle I have made on the floor.

Yes. I need that lens. I want that lens...and I covet that lens. I would forsake having a car for the rest of my life if I could run my fingers across that lens and know that I could take it home. And make everyone jealous for miles around who hasn't got one. Yeah. I got Nikon Lens Acquisition Syndrome BAD. Of course when that lens comes home. The next one will be the Nikon AF-S VRII 200-400mm f/4 G IF-ED. By that time, unless I've won the lottery, my desire for lenses will be sated. And if by some fluke (lightning hit-potential surpassing chance) that I do win the Lotto Max. I'll probably walk into Nikon Richmond and say "Hell...give me one of everything in that catalog." Uh...maybe 2 of each may be the better bet. Since my wife is giving me the "death stare".

"Maybe if I put this picture on the wall and look at it everyday...and..."

So yes, as Darrell says. "Nobody said reading my blog was inexpensive..." Yep...because I got that feeling in the marrow of my bones...that 600mm f/4 lens "will be mine...oh will be mine..."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunsets aren't cliche...

At least not to me. I've always enjoyed shooting sunsets. I'm hoping that one of these days, I will be able to get some Graduated ND filters to help bring out those colors.

Should have taken both camera and Toothy...

He wasn't too happy about getting the raw deal. Yep. I have a little "photo buddy". 17 inches, he ain't small. But he's quite the character and I guess you could say he matches my personal character very well...(mouthy and not the least bit prone to political correctness).

Unfortunately Toothy had to stay home on Friday and he certainly made his displeasure kmnown but he being a good shooting buddy kept guard on my D300s.

Well, I'm going to have to make certain I take him a lot more places now. I have several ideas with which to use him...and those will be on Toothy's blog at Great White Outta Water. You oughta check it out. Definitely not politically correct either. And Great Whites don't tend to listen when you tell them to be PC.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coal Harbour Floatplanes

Harbour Air DH-2 Beaver taking off in front of a vista of North Vancouver.

Seair Cessna 675 Caravan C-JMOW moored at the Seair terminal mooring.

These images were shot with my wife's Nikon D90 because I opted to leave my D300s home and stupidly realized that I wanted to take a few shots as well. Teach me to leave my camera at home.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Got to love my Go-To Wildife Lens - My Nikon AF-S VRII 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED

After owning the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED VRII for just a little over a full year, I find that this lens is probably one of the best lenses for Nikon pros out there. However what I'm going to talk about its versatility for wildlife shooting. At 3.39 lbs, this isn't some lightweight lens when you're hauling it around all day. Add on a Manfrotto 680B monopod or a 190XB tripod and you're talking shoulder ache. At least I don't have to haul around a 600mm and a Gitzo GT5541LS but when I walk over to Green Timbers to shoot wildlife or to carry around on a walk around Stanley Park, I want something light and I want something fast and as far as I'm concerned, the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII is probably the best lens out there. At 8.2 inches it's not the smallest lens out there either and it'll take up a lot of room in your camera bag, especially my Lowepro Rezo 190 AW. I usually carry two lenses with me: the 50mm f/1.8D on my Nikon D300s and the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII (in the camera bag).

Pixel peepers will complain about the fact that 200mm may or may not be 200mm, but hell...pixel peepers will complain about everything under the sun that they can get away with.

The main thing with this lens is "IT IS SHARP!" By far it is one of the sharpest lenses that I have seen to this date. It is also one of the most versatile lenses in the Nikon catalog. People use this lens for event, wedding and portrait photography. But the other thing is that it is a mainstay for wildlife photography, especially if you're up close or you want to take a environmental shot in wildlife photography where you want to show more of the habitat that the animal lives in.

This lens is fast enough to take "in-flight" shots. Needless to say, this is something I'm going to have to work on.

And if the animals are close enough, you can actually get in and get a decent portrait of them and their environment.

And the fact that you can switch from that type of wildlife shooting to any other form of photography including environmental portraiture of people, makes this an incrediblly versatile lens to have in your camera bag. Especially if you have a spare $1799.99 lying around in need of spending.

I'd have to say: next to the 50mm f/1.8D in my camera bag, I find this is my go-to lens and well worth every penny.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our Evening at English Bay.

Heather had to go pick up a photo-frame at London Drugs on Davie Street. So we decided to walk along the beach on the West End side of English Bay

Stumbled across an Inukshuk that I figured I'd photograph.

Saw this guy balancing rocks

I guess kayaking is a sport better shared?

A guy walking on the jetty jutting out into English Bay.

The boats and ships out on English Bay during the sunset.

A ship heading out into English Bay (I guess for an evening cruise)

Saw this on the way back to the Skytrain.

Skytrain...heading home to Surrey. Man my feet hate me and I've got a nice blister happening on the heel of my left foot. Time for some new shoes, I guess.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Work The Camera With What's Between Your Ears...

When someone comes up to me and asks me this question after complimenting me on my photos "What kind of camera do you use?" I invariably hear this unvoiced hope "Maybe if I get the same camera that he pictures will turn out just as good". I usually give the reply "It's not the camera, it's the person behind the camera". And that isn't an elitist answer. To be a competent photographer, you need to develop your sense of when to take the photo, how to compose the shot so that it looks exactly the way you pictured it, with only the need for a little post processing.

Technology has come forward in leaps and bounds since the infancy of digital cameras in the early 90s and the turn of the millenium. In the year that I bought my first digital camera, I was shooting with an Agfa ePhoto 780c, a 0.35MP camera (1 MP equals 1 million pixels - so you do the math). In 2011 just a scant 10-11 years after I bought my first digital camera, we have large format and medium format backs in excess of MP power of 45 MP or more. We have compacts that have 16 MP (though I won't say much for their prints over and above 8x10). When I bought my first Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera (my Nikon D50), it was a 6.1 MP camera. Nowadays, DSLRs have megapixels in ranges between 12.3 and 32 MP (the proposed Canon 1Ds Mk IV?).

When I first started photography in 1984, my father bought me a Mamiya Sekor TL500 35mm film SLR. I had no idea how to use it. And this was before I even knew I had dyslexia and a learning disability. I couldn't make heads or tails out of filmspeed, shutterspeed, aperture and how they related to each other. If I had to spend the 3000 shutter clicks I put through my D50 on the equivalent amount of film developing, I would have spent well over $1620.00; almost the cost of a new f/2.8 lens and I wouldn't, with the handicap of a learning disability and the fact that I'm a visual learner, have learned even the basics of photography that I learned with my D50. So if anyone tells you, that you can't learn photography from a digital camera, that's a load of bollocks.

My Agfa ePhoto 780c - landscape shot

My Nikon Coolpix 2200 - cityscape shot

My Nikon D50 - city feature shot

However, the most important part of photography is knowing your photographic knowledge inside and out. Be able to assess your situation and be able to know instinctively what to do in any given lighting situation. For example given a gloomy forest setting...Do you put your ISO up or do you open your aperture? What will the end result of that be. If you open your shutter, does your depth of field increase or decrease. How will the bokeh result from that option? How much of your foreground or background do you want coming in crisp and do I achieve that objective? All of these things are things that will be trickling through your head at a given moment and sometimes when you're shooting, you have just a split-second to make that decision. You have to know your equipment inside and out. You also have to know the best composition to bring out your objective. You also have to know your lighting conditions and what do to in each situation. That's the mark of a competent photographer. It's not the fact that you carry a Nikon D3x or a Canon 1Ds Mk III and have lenses the length of my forearm and hand combined. It's "Do YOU...know the equipment inside and out and what to do with it in any given situation?" That's what separates the competent photographers from the "spray and pray" weekend snappers.

Ideally, as a wildlife photographer, I should have a 400 f/2.8 or a 600mm f/4 lens with the assorted teleconverters. However, unless I win the lottery, that lens won't fall into my hands anytime soon without saving like crazy. So I work with what technology I have and use my head to get the shots that I want. It is thanks to friends like Scott Linstead, Jamie Douglas, Paul Burwell, Ethan Meleg, Darwin Wiggett and Megan Lorenz who inspire me to improve my own photography. It is their photography that provides the inspiration and pushes me to improve my skills and composition.

It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have. Learn to be competent with it. The only time that you need to upgrade your camera is when the technology you buy will make doing your job easier or when your skill outgrows the technology you have. My favorite saying is this: "Work the camera with what lies between your ears and not what is on the label of the equipment you carry."

One of my D300s/70-200mm f/2.8VRII shots @ 165mm(no teleconveters); technique, and animal approach for composition purposes by Hugo Chikamori.!!! Nope...a bunny.

Yesterday on the way home from Guildford, we decided to stop off at Green Timbers Urban Forest for a little bit of "us time" walking around the park and to enjoy the wildlife there.

The first little denizen of the forest that we ran into was this little guy. This is a feral rabbit. His ancestors probably were domesticated rabbits that were released into the wild. His ears look like they're on high alert.

We walked for a while and came across this wonderful little lake that was in the park as seen in the photo above. There we ran into a veritable array of eclipse mallard ducks. I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves.

This one is on 500px as well.

This is a Dark-Eyed Junco

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Airplanes and a bunch of birds...

Boeing 747-400, Korean Airlines

McDonnell Douglas MD-11, KLM (tension wire got in the way of the shot)

Airbus A340, Lufthansa

And of course, more birds and a grasshopper

I think these are chipping sparrows, but I've posted it up on Fraser Valley Birding so I'll get an answer some way or another.

This is the unidentified sparrow that I saw. I have no idea what this one is because my confounded "Birds of British Columbia" ID book decided to grow legs and walk off on me. Well, Birding BC identified it as the ubiquitous Spotted Towhee (a member of the Sparrow family). How very nice.

Happy crow on a utility wire.

Say hello to poor Mr. Grasshopper. He's trying to clear the stars out of his head after colliding with my leg. Yes, poor Mr. Grasshopper is alright...this is an AFTER shot. Being a retaliation for him hitting my leg, I pull out my camera and happily SHOOT him.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Code of Ethics (Rules) for Nature Photography

Code of Ethics for Nature Photographers

Above all...DO NO HARM

Nestlings seriously disturbed (FB thread)

This type of behavior is completely unacceptable to a nature photographer and is typical of the type of behavior of the weekend wanna-be nature photographer who goes out willy-nilly into the forest and doesn't think about what he or she is doing.

The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:
Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

Naturally, there will always be one or two individuals who will screw up and cause harm to the birds that they are trying to locate by disturbing their nest, or getting too damned close to the birds for their own good. There is a good reason as to why nature photographers shoot with 400mm lenses and better in terms of range. That's so that you don't agitate the birds by having to get in really close.

A friend, Darwin Wiggett penned this treatise on Nature Photographer's Online Magazine - My Nature Photography Pet Peeves
Do We Need Rules of Etiquette When Shooting on Public Land?
It's very enlightening and we should all take heed.

If you don't want IDIOTS to copy your behavior, don't put up stuff that would incite IDIOTS to copy your behavior...unless you use that as moral lesson and be scathingly damning in the post of behavior such as thus exhibited.

More Birds

North American Robin sitting on fence. Robin Perspective

A Hybrid Mallard at Bear Creek Pond.

Reflections of Solitude

Metal birds:

Cathay Pacific B747-400

British Airways B747-400

American Airlines B777-200

All these photos were shot with the Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G - the very cheapest 70-300mm lens that Nikon ever makes. If you want to see my review of it is. My Nikon 70-300mm review which practically tears this lens a good one. Frankly, I still find that this lens requires a good deal of post-processing to get a usable image out of it and this was holding it absolutely rock-steady. Next time, I will be taking my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII.