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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Are You Doing...New Year's Eve!?

Though not much in the Christmas Spirit this year, I've decided to go wander up and take some photos of the Central City Christmas Light Display. After being hung-up with a nasty bronchial infection which took three rounds of antibiotics to kill it, I'm now back to photo-shooting shape. Hopefully January will be filled with photography opportunities and like this...I hope to take advantage of it.

One of my "square-crop" images:

Happy New Year and Happy Shooting in 2014!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Supertelephoto Lens Bags - Buying The Right Bag

When you get into Pro Bags, especially for the longer lenses, you can plan on spending a hefty chunk of coin on them. With the acquisition of my 600mm, I've forayed into "expensive". There are two bags that I hope to get in order to carry my 600mm f/4. One being the "expedition class" Lowepro ProTrekker 600AW, which is a heavy duty expedition type backpack with plenty of room for other lenses. This lens bag, if I used it, would probably hold ALL my lenses in my photography lens collection - and I would end up looking like a turtle on its back - helpless and unable to get up without help.

The Lowepro ProTrekker 600 AW is labelled as such.

The other being the Lowepro 600 AWII which is a single-lens backpack type lens bag that allows for me to carry a 600mm lens and the Gitzo tripod (on the acquisition list). Both are extremely well-padded naturally considering the expense of the super-telephoto lenses that you'll be carrying with this bag - It will carry up the the 800mm f/5.6 lens (of course, with camera removed). The 600mm will allow ample space to fit the camera on so that all you have to do is remove the lens from the bag and shoot.

This will be my day-to-day camera bag for the 600mm as it will enable me to bring it anywhere I need to go instead of lugging it outside of its case and potentially having it damaged - let's say on the off-chance that I have to stop by a grocery store or mall on the way home from shooting. Most normal people would drop the lens off at home first, but then again...who said I was normal?

a) depending on the lens you have, the largest lens that you have in your lens collection will dictate the bag that you get.
b) the type of shooting you do dictates what you take along with you. If you are going to go on a trip to Banff that is essentially going to last a week or more, you might want to take the LowePro Pro Trekker where you can have maximum flexibility of lens selection. Whereas if you intend to only go for a dayshoot, the Lowepro 600AWII may be the perfect lens bag for the day-hike if you're aiming to shoot wildlife for the day.

The Lowepro ProTrekker will be perfect when I add the 300mm f/2.8 VRII to my collection of lenses. as the 600mm f/4 and 300mm f/2.8 will go in side by side and I will be able to add in a 14-24 and potentially a 24-70mm at the end in order to do landscapes at the same time. Also, the Lowepro ProTrekker has a sleeve in which you stick two legs of the tripod you have and then tie-down the other leg so that your tripod is secure as well.

Bags protect your lenses and your cameras, so it is important to get one that will do the job properly. After all, you put a lot of expense into the lenses that you have. Isn't it worth it to spend some more to protect your investment from breakage?

Equipment Hopes For The New Year.

Well, we're coming up on the end of the year for 2013. This year, the installment-purchase of a AF-S II 600mm f/4 D IF-ED lens made a major difference in my photography - allowing me to get closer to birds at the places like Serpentine Fen and Green Timbers. Also the purchase of a TC-20EIII (a 2x extender), expanded my photography focal capabilities of my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII from 70-200mm to 140-400mm

On the list potentially for 2014 is attempting to get a Sigma 50-500mm lens (this will end up becoming my wife's birding lens) in September as well as paying off the 600mm (final payment is in May 2014). Depending on how it goes, we may be able to slip a set of Lee soft ND filters in there as well. It just depends on how much is left after the 50-500mm in September.

At least hopefully this will be what is potentially possible to get for 2014. Each purchase is an investment into my photography and hopefully, with the purchase of the 50-500mm, my wife will get as much enjoyment out of bird photography as I do with the 600mm.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Snowing! White Christmas?

It's snowing again! Just managed to get home from dropping my wife off at work and came home. Pulled out the D300s/70-200mm VRII and proceeded to take a couple of snaps of the snow-covered branches. They're beautiful. It was predicted to become rain in the afternoon, but the white stuff is still coming down. At one point while we were driving out to Guildford, the snow built up to a crescendo and it was coming down pretty hard for what we consider BC snow.

I hope one day to get a 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro lens to show just how beautiful the close-up snow can actually be. Though it freaking sucks for driving in. This stuff is wet snow...which makes for great compacting and is perfect snowball-snow unlike the dry powdery stuff. These type of snowballs can hurt.

There is always one thing that has always fascinated me about snow and that's how it lays on the branches. It's worth the $899.00+tax to pick up a decent macro lens - I'm going to stick with the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor VR

Looking forward to January - 2nd payment for the 600mm tipping the pendulum towards majority ownership of the 600mm f/4 lens with Christian Sasse. Last payment being in May and the possibility of my wife getting her Sigma 50-500mm (so she can join me on wildlife shoots) and for myself - either a 105mm or getting the Lee soft Grad ND filters to start with. 2014 is going to be a great year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

First Snowfall of the 2013-2014 Winter

Evidently on the 9th of December it snowed. Stayed on the ground for about 4 & a 1/2 days after a round of chilly weather from the "Alberta Clipper" an arctic air mass coming in from the Yukon. Man it got a bit chilly there for a while. Not the -40 that one experiences in Edmonton but the wet cold is a hell of a lot more potent than dry cold. Not to mention, I've been also down with an infection again - 3rd round of antibiotics - hopefully the antibiotics kill it this time. I hope I can kick this before January because I'm going to be going after snowy owls (evidently they were just late this year). More stuff to do this coming year - more birds, more landscapes.

Oh and just in case you haven't been "inflicted" or "tortured" enough by the Auto-Highlight feature on Google Photos enough they've now got "Auto-Awesome" which randomly goes around and makes insane .gifs out of your photos. My snow picture has just been "attacked" with tacky falling snow. Hurray...NOT.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Best of 2013.

A rundown of the best from 2013

I haven't been able to get out towards the end of the year as mid-November I was fighting a throat infection which then turned into bronchitis. But rest assured, as soon as I kick this respiratory infection, I'm going to be back out doing what I love to do which is photographing birds. These are a mixture of some images that have gone up on and some which I have kept off that site and all are representative of what I consider as my best out of all the shots I've taken this year.

With this year drawing to a close - it has been an eventful one with the acquisition in June 2013 (thanks to Christian and I hashing out an "installment plan") of the 600mm f/4 - as he said - "it makes a dramatic difference in one's photography". The ability to get close to one's subject with the reach of the 600mm is just amazing. And considering snowy owls have dropped into Boundary Bay, I will be stopping by in the first week of January 2014 to take the 600mm f/4 out to see the snowys. 2nd payment is due in January 2014 also so I will be meeting up with Christian in the New Year to pass along the second payment which will tip the pendulum of majority ownership in the lens from Christian to myself. And the final payment will be in May of 2014 which will mean that I will own that big, beautiful lens entirely by May 2014.

Also lost in the mix was the acquisition in May 2013 of a Nikon TC-20EIII 2x teleconverter for my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII - which extended my range out to 140-400mm f/5.6 (losing 2 stops of aperture in the process)

So here now are my best of 2013

Between splitting my time with hockey photography and wildlife photography, overall, this has been a good year. But I'll be back next year with a vengeance, once I kick this bronchitis crud and I'll be photographing raptors and other birds a lot next year. Maybe next year, I'll actually get the chance to make it out to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival. Either way, I'm looking forward to next year.