December 22, 2014, 05:51:32 PM

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Messages - steven kessel

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1
Prairie Falcon.  I find these birds almost impossible to photograph.  They have superb vision and they are sensitive to the slightest movement, so they can see you coming from a long way off.  They are also extremely high energy birds who are quick to fly.  Getting close to one requires supreme patience and a ton of good luck.  I got lucky with this bird.  Or, perhaps, it was a bit more tolerant of humans because it is a juvenile and naive.  Whatever, I'm pleased that I got this shot.

5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 500, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/2000, exposure compensation 1 2/3 stops.

2
Prairie Falcon liftoff.  Photographing these birds in the wild is a huge challenge because they can see you coming from a long distance and they're extremely quick to fly.  I got lucky with this one and my guess is that it had a lot to do with the fact that this is a juvenile bird.  Juveniles of all species tend to be a good deal more trusting around humans than are adults.

5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 500, aperture preferred setting +1 2/3 stops, f6.3 @ 1/2000

3
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: December 19, 2014, 02:16:39 PM »
Verdin.  These little birds are a common southwestern US species, easy to find, hard to photograph.  They like to forage within the foliage of small trees and large shrubs and one seldom gets an unobstructed view of them.  I got lucky.

Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/1600.

4
Well, for me it's been unconditional love.  I'm really a rank amateur when it comes to landscapes, my forte is wildlife photography and I've always been at the other end of the lens spectrum.  But, when Canon offered the 16-35 I thought "why not?" and ordered it.  I've been delighted with the results.  It never occurred to me that IS would be a benefit on a wide angle lens.  Not until I started photographing with it.  But, I'm getting razor sharp results down to 1/30 with this lens and my hands just aren't that steady.  And, as for sharpness, well, I never cease to be amazed by what this lens is capable of doing.  I love it!

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Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: December 05, 2014, 02:36:55 PM »
I get told off in no uncertain terms by a Cooper's Hawk.

Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, "M" setting f6.3 @ 1/1600.

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Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: December 03, 2014, 02:44:56 PM »
Pied-billed Grebe.

5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, "M" setting, f6.3 @ 1/640

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Reviews / Re: Are Gitzo's really overrated?!
« on: December 03, 2014, 02:41:07 PM »
After a lot of thought I went out last spring and bought a Vanguard Alta Pro 253CT tripod and put an Oben BE117T bullhead on it.  The rig has functioned absolutely perfectly for me.  It is sufficiently lightweight that I can carry it easily into the field.  It is easily adjustable and rock steady.  And, it certainly seems to be durable. 

Now, this is not a tripod I'd use with a 600mm lens.  But, it's not really intended for that sort of heavyweight use.  It is just right for what I do tripod mounted -- closeup photography and the occasional landscape.

The whole outfit cost me a bit more than $300 as I recall.  It was money that was very, very well spent.

8
Animal Kingdom / Re: Your best animal shots!
« on: November 27, 2014, 03:02:09 PM »
Coyote in my neighborhood.  Photographed from my car.

Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 640, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/1250

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Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: November 25, 2014, 02:26:48 PM »
Cinnamon Teal.

5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/800

10
My go-to camera used to be a 7D.  Then, I purchased a 5Diii and I've never looked back. Currently, I own two 5Diiis.  One of them is more or less permanently affixed to a 400 DO, which I use for birds and animal photography.  The other body divides time between a 70-200 f4L IS, a 180 Macro, and a 16-35 f4 L zoom. 

The image quality that I get from my 5D iii is immeasurably superior to what I get from the 7D, even with extensive cropping.  That's convinced me that there's no circumstance where I would substitute a crop body for a full frame.  In the past couple of weeks a few of my friends have lobbied me to try a 7D2, assuring me that the image quality of the newer body is enormously upgraded over its predecessor.  Maybe so -- and I assume that Canon would have figured out a way to vastly upgrade its product after nearly a decade -- but I'm really happy with my full frames and intend to stick with them.

11
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: November 18, 2014, 01:07:27 PM »
I live in the Tucson area.  It's great for viewing all sorts of wildlife including birds.  We have the advantage of being directly underneath a major north-south flyway for migrating birds and we also see many seasonal residents.  There are about 450 species that show up in our area.  Part of it is the surprisingly diverse habitat.  Most people think of desert when they think of Tucson, and that's true.  But, we also have mountains with habitats that change with elevation and a few riparian areas.  Our proximity to the Gulf of California also means that we see birds that are commuting to and from that area.  It's not usual to see an Osprey here, right in the middle of the desert!

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Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: November 18, 2014, 08:56:30 AM »
Wishful thinking.  Song Sparrow and Crane Fly.

5Diii, 400DO, ISO 800, "M" setting, f6.3 @ 1/640.

13
Animal Kingdom / Re: BIRD IN FLIGHT ONLY -- share your BIF photos here
« on: November 17, 2014, 12:32:48 PM »
In response to GraFax, I really like my 400 DO.  I purchased mine about 18 months ago and it's obviously the "old" model as opposed to the one that was just issued.  It's light and razor sharp.  I've read a number of critiques of the older lens and, to be honest, I experienced none of the problems that some raised. 

As for color variation among red tails, yes, absolutely.  The one in the image is a standard "southwestern" bird, typical of what we see around here (Arizona) in summer months.  Wintertime is more varied because we get a lot of migrants from points north, and these tend to come in different colors.

Here's one more, in this case, a juvenile.

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Animal Kingdom / Re: BIRD IN FLIGHT ONLY -- share your BIF photos here
« on: November 16, 2014, 10:37:44 PM »
Red Tail, airborne.

5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, "M" setting, f6.3 @ 1/1650.

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Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: November 12, 2014, 09:20:46 AM »
Black Phoebe.  5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, "M" setting f6.3 @ 1/800.

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