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Monday, June 17, 2013

3 Hours of Shooting: Surrey Lake Park & Green Timbers Park.

Yesterday was alright as far as the clouds were concerned. It was semi-overcast so the light was even and not harsh at around 4 o'clock to 5 o' clock when we finally managed to get out of the house. The first park that we went to was Surrey Lake Park when we found out that the parking situation at Green Timbers was such that parking was going to be a major problem.

When we arrived at Surrey Lake Park, my hope was that I would find a wood duck. Unfortunately, that hope never materialized. The wood ducks were not in evidence at Surrey Lake Park and I was left empty-handed. However my two boys (who were the only ones old enough to handle cameras and my wife had fun photographing the ducks with their lenses. I still have to get another EN-EL3e battery to be able to put the secondary D50 (Heather's) back into use and lend it to Cameron for him to be able to photograph with a DSLR. Without a tripod and a gimbal-head I realized very quickly just how much "pain" 11.8 pounds could inflict on ones shoulders. It did not prevent me from taking some decent photographs: starting off with a red-winged blackbird.

Walking in farther into the park after spending quite a bit of time around the lake area, we came across the eagle's nest that I saw the last time over three years and four days previous (my last visit to Surrey Lake Park was in June 12, 2010). The parents were out hunting and the two juveniles were in the nest looking around as if they were investigating everything that they possibly could.

In lower light, the 600mm f/4 is not as quick to focus, but it is certainly speedier than the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with the 2x teleconverter attached to it. I have to say that even handheld, this lens more than was a match for the light available and locked on quickly and I was able to get off at least 2 or 3 shots at a time handheld before cradling the lens back in my arms again to rest it.

After spending an hour and a half at Surrey Lake Park, we headed back to Green Timbers (which was on our way back home) and decided to see if we could see Mom and Pop (the pair of mated bald eagles at Green Timbers. I didn't see any nest nearby or any nestlings, so right now I suspect that they are childless this year.

I did spend some time shooting other things than bald eagles; but they were my primary objective yesterday.

sometimes you can catch bald eagles in a very 'cute' pose.

Saw this big monster over Green Timbers too. It was an Air Transat A330 inbound towards YVR. I'm sure the co-pilot thought it was a missile launcher that was pointed at him (especially with the size of the lens that was aimed at the aircraft.)

And I finally caught the image that I had been wanting for quite some time: a Great Blue Heron in flight. An whole string of shots which allowed me to to post one up on 500px. This one missed the cut due to its wingtip being cut off.

The verdict with the 600mm f/4 is that it is a very effective lens; quick and responsive, but it is not a lens that should be handheld for any stretch of time. One hour is pretty much the maximum time handheld. Either that or break up the usage time handheld with at least several breaks. By the end of the three hour stretch of carrying 11.8 pounds, the lens was starting to feel not like the Nikon prescribed weight but a ton of bricks. This lens requires a gimbal head and a sturdy tripod (preferably a Gitzo GT5542LS and a Jobu BWG-Pro2 gimbal head)- no two ways about it. Will I take this out again without the tripod? I have no choice in the matter as I don't have the funds to purchase a tripod yet. But at least I know that I have the strength to heft this big beast. Am I glad I have it in my lens arsenal? If I didn't have it, I wouldn't have managed the heron shot, or the creamy background separation on my red-winged blackbird image. So the answer to that question is a resounding "YES".

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