Owl #2

About two weeks ago, I was able to capture an elusive northern saw-whet owl. It was such a tiny and cute little guy.

So yesterday I went back to the scene of the crime to try to find this owl. No such luck, but alas, we were able to capture a barred owl instead, just down the road.

I’ll take it!

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This guy was much easier to capture, than the saw-whet. He posed, gave me a side profile, winked at me, flew around, bowed, and did the gagnam style dance. Kidding on that last one…or am I?

Guest Post: The Tundra Swan

By: Dave Cooper Photography – check out his site, he has some outstanding photographs from Canada, USA, and Europe. He can do it all: portrait, landscape, wildlife, sports…you name it!

This large bird, formerly known as the “Whistling Swan” is white in colour, has a black beak, feet and legs. Some may appear to have a reddish hue on their head and neck, this is due to feeding in iron-rich areas. Whistling is the sound made by the slow, powerful wings at take-off.

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On average this male bird has a height of 1.3 meters with a weight of 7.5 kg, the female is slightly smaller weighing in at 6.3 kg but she will never tell you these details. The juveniles have gray feathers with pinkish beaks and legs. It takes about two years to develop into an adult.

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These photographs were taken at the Elgin County Wildlife Management Area near Aylmer, Ontario during a feeding stop on their Spring migration. This journey take these birds from Chesapeake Bay, Virginia to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic. Other excellent viewing locations in Southern Ontario are the Long Point Waterfowl Management Area in Norfolk County, Ontario and the Lambton Heritage Museum in Grand Bend, Ontario.

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Evil Rabbit

But I’m serious. This guy, shot at Mammoth in Yellowstone, was actually creepy.

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I wanted to post that, “Awwww, Happy Easter — here’s a bunny” shot. But this hare really gave me, and a few other observers, the ‘un-happy Easter’ vibe.

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Perhaps it was because it was mid-July and it was not anywhere close to being Easter, or perhaps this guy was just pure evil…

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 8.02.51 PMI say evil.

Breaking the ice

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High Park, Toronto, Canada

Two weeks ago I was testing out my camera to see if all the buttons and lenses and batteries and who knows what, all were still functioning.

I was able to capture a ton of shots of swans, geese, and ducks playing around on the thin ice. Every setting was attempted, every angle was represented, but I needed to get an action shot.

About one hour after focusing on birds about to fly off (and being very unsuccessful), I watched this goose carefully waddling along a very thin strip of ice…

Could he?

Wait for it…

SNAP…there we go, this is the goose breaking through the ice and falling into the frigid water.

I was really hoping for a shocked face. Come on – WORK WITH ME goose!

(at least I caught his friend snickering at him)

Wednesday’s Wish List

Last week, I had my eye on a great lens that would compliment my Nikon D300, oh so nicely.

This week, it’s all about filters to help me amp up my landscape photographs. One of the first things that landscape photographers have told me (aside from using a tripod) is to purchase a neutral density filter for my wide-angle lens.

Here’s one I discovered from B&H Photo:

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The 77mm Variable Neutral Density Filter from Tiffen offers a unique way of maintaining total control over your depth of field as well as presenting an efficient way to create some special effects. The filter is designed with a built-in rotating ring that controls neutral density ranging from 2 – 8 stops (0.6- 2.4). The heavier the density, the slower your shutter speed will be. This longer exposure allows the shutter to remain open long enough to record the same amount of light but will also create movement within the shot. Another major benefit of this filter is the elimination of having to buy and carry around individual neutral density filters. With this one filter, you can rotate to the degree of ND you want – a real time and money saver.

Simply mount the filter on your lens, set it to “Min” density then frame and focus. Care must be taken with focusing at heavier densities to make sure focus is accurate. However, if it isn’t, switch to manual focus and rotate to the desired degree of filtration.

For example, if your standard exposure without the filter is 1/500 @ f/8 and you then set the filter to “Min”, you change the shutter speed to 1/125 at the same aperture – thereby losing 2-stops of speed while gaining a hint of “blur” in the image. If that’s not enough filtration, continue rotating the filter until you reach the shutter speed you desire. Using the above example, you can even get down to 1/8 second @ f/8 (8 stops). It should be noted that the calibration marks on the filter ring are to be used only for reference and should not be regarded as accurate settings for specific densities.

A Neutral Density filter is used to create some unusual special effects such as capturing the “blur” of the rippling water of a waterfall or the swirling effect of city traffic. Since it allows the use of slower shutter speeds in bright light, it becomes possible to create these special effects that would normally not be possible to capture without the filter. And, since it can also help to control your depth of field, it permits you to shoot at wider apertures. Ultimately, its value is in helping to prevent bright, overly washed out images shot in bright light.

The ColorCore process allows Tiffen to control the color and density of their filters, and the characteristics of special effects filters with much greater accuracy than typical dyed-in-the-mass filters, which usually exhibit color and density variations. In this way, Tiffen can better control the various densities of their filters and thereby create more exact degrees of filtration.

Thin Profile Ring (9mm) – The wider front filter ring helps reduce the possibility of vignetting (the darkening of corners) at wide angle
It allows you to have continuous control over the amount of light coming through your lens in an approximate range of 2 (ND 0.6) to 8 (ND 2.4) stops

Neutral Density Filters Have Four Main Uses

To enable slow shutter speeds to be used, especially with high speed ISOs, to record movement in subjects such as waterfalls, clouds, or cars
To decrease depth of field by allowing wider apertures to be used, which helps separate subjects from their background
To decrease the effective ISO of high speed film (above ISO 400) and allow it to be used outdoors in bright situation
To allow cine and video cameras (which have fixed shutter speeds) to film subjects such as snow, sand or other bright scenes which could cause overexposure
ColorCore Technology
The ColorCore process allows Tiffen to control the color and density of their filters, and the characteristics of special effects filters with much greater accuracy than typical dyed-in-the-mass filters, which usually exhibit color and density variations. In this way, Tiffen can better control the various densities of their filters and thereby create more exact degrees of filtration
Tiffen, a leader in the filter industry, proudly makes its filters in the USA and backs up its products with a solid 10-year warranty

It was a dark and stormy night.

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Taken in Jasper, Alberta in August of last year. This was the first in a series of shots of a developing storm along Maligne Lake Road. The colours in the sky were absolutely incredible, and I was lucky enough to have a decent reflection mirroring those colours as well.

This storm was one of the most violent storms I have experienced. And oh, so much fun, while sleeping in a tiny little tent. It actually caused a landslide (see link), approximately where I was standing for this shot a few hours later!

Wednesday’s Wish List

I was window shopping (or should I say ‘screen shopping’) online last night for photo gear. Since receiving a Nikon D300 from my fiancee, I’ve been searching for accessories to help fuel my growing love for photography.

This is what I have been eyeing:

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Vistek

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/2.8 VR II ED Telephoto Lens

Professional, fast-aperture super telephoto lens, now enhanced with Nikon VR II image stabilization and featuring Nano Crystal Coat, is an ideal choice for sports photography, live performance shooting, wildlife and more.

Fast-aperture f/2.8 NIKKOR Super Telephoto
Wide aperture, professional telephoto performance, optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness for both FX and DX-format Nikon D-SLRs—perfect for action and sports photojournalism, wildlife photography and more.

Nikon VR II (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization
Vibration Reduction is engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens. VR II enables handheld shooting at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, assuring dramatically sharper images.

Exclusive Nano Crystal Coat
Further reduces ghosting and internal flare for even greater image clarity.

Three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) Elements
Offers superior sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration, even at wide apertures.

Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
Delivers fast, accurate and quiet autofocusing.

Three Focus Modes
A/M mode joins the familiar M/A and M modes, enhancing AF control versatility with fast, secure switching between auto and manual focus to accommodate personal shooting techniques.

Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
Enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.

AF Memory Recall
Allows instant return to a predetermined point of focus.

Rugged Construction
Featuring enhanced dust and moisture-resistance, magnesium die-cast barrel construction and a protective meniscus front lens.

Close Focusing to 7.2 feet
Focus to 7.2 feet in manual focus or 7.5 feet in autofocus, enabling striking image perspectives.

Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
Renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image areas.

Hmm…may I borrow $5,500?