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Messages - jrista

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1486
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 03:04:44 AM »
Blue-Winged Teal Headshot

Another headshot. This time of a blue-winged teal. Really just love the mottled golden feathers these beauties have. This shot came out a bit darker than the rest, but the angle of the light on it's head just brought out the iridescent feathers and it's eye so much better.

This is one of those shots that brings out the worst of the 7D. It's a moderately heavy crop, definitely not the heaviest by a long shot, but heavier than I generally prefer. It's sharp, but it's also noisy. That's especially evident in the background...I even used a 0.8 radius for sharpening in LR (which helps reduce the graininess of noise), and the OOF background is still too noisy. I wasn't exactly reach limited here (the bird was quite large in the frame overall, this is a heavier crop for the head), so a full-frame camera with a 1.4x TC would have done a lot better...more total light, bigger pixels, more DR...so less noise. Really can't wait to get my hands on a 5D III.

Blue-Winged Teal, Male
Cottonwood Creek Wetland
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2


1487
Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Zeiss Otus Initial Impressions
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:59:12 AM »
Out of curiosity, what is the MFD? Can it be used as a closeup lens for objects within a foot or two?
The 50cm MFD brings you fairly close, but when adding a 12mm extension tube I get about as close as I find practical.

How is the magnification with the extension?

1488
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:58:33 AM »
I for one would love to try "behavioral camo" sometimes: pretending to be part of the environment, appearing uninterested in the subject, slowly moving close, etc.

Or, instead of pretending...you could ACTUALLY become part of the environment! :P



Ghillie Suits FTW!

I am actually in the process of making one of these...I have an old super-cheap net and leaf camo suit that I'm tying frayed yarn strands into....greens, browns, tans. I'm also planning on tying in some of the dried grass straw from Cherry Creek and some of the other parks around that I photograph at. It's primarily to see if it helps me get some better shots of the Kingfishers, which are notoriously difficult birds to shoot...they get all uppity when I'm around, and will only fish when they actually see me leave. I figure, if I can sneak in like a literal bush, maybe they'll get down to business and start fishin in front of my lens! :D
If you get that suit, make sure you get someone to take a picture you can share with us:)

Indeed! For a really good ghillie suit, you usually have to make them. The simplest way is to just take some burlap, cut it up and sew it into a basic poncho and chaps. The big threads of the burlap make it easy to tie frayed yarn and/or shredded strips of fabric to. If my attempt to use my net suit doesn't work, I have some burlap that I was using as a backdrop in my yard to cover the slatted nature of my fence (my fence makes for a really crappy background in my bird photos). I have like four sheets of this camo burlap which I think will make an ideal base for a ghillie suit.

1489
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:52:18 AM »
Zeiss, Nikon and ROR lens solutions.
Pec pads.

Kimwipes are very versatile lint-free wipes, and I must have run through crates of them in my scientific career. But they do tend to flake-off, which might be a problem.

Do use disposable wipes in any case, though. You don't want to rub older grit on to the lens.

Yeah, sometimes kimwipes leave a small amount of flakes. Since they remove all the oil, though, a light puff will usually completely eliminate any of the flakes left behind.

As I got heavily into astrophotography at the beginning of this year, I learned a little lens cleaning trick. You tend to use a lot of red light when doing astrophotography, as it doesn't mess with your night vision. I was cleaning the filter holder of my 600mm lens about a month or so ago, and at first the only thing I had handy was one of my microfiber cloths. I started trying to clean the filter holder (which has two glass windows that can sandwich a gel filter), and noticed that the red light made the oil smears stand out exceptionally well. I grabbed a kimwipe, and started cleaning, and within a few seconds it was obvious that the oil had stopped smearing and was disappearing.

Whatever wipes or cloths you end up getting, I recommend getting a deep red CFL bulb, put it in a dark room, and clean your lens under that light. You'll know in a heartbeat if your wipe or cloth is actually cleaning, or just smearing stuff around. A lot of the time, what appears to be clean in normal light looks horribly grimy and dirty under red light. :P

1490
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:51:03 AM »
Meadowlark

I was out checking Cherry Creek to see what kind of birds may have still been around. I kind of missed the first part of the migration this year, as the ducks moved through when it was still rather cold (and I've been just so sick of cold, as it's been quite cold here in Colorado since late September...long time). While hiking around one of the small wetland areas, I almost stepped on this little guy. Not sure what he was doing on the ground, or why he didn't move when I got close (extremely close). His fearlessness gave me a chance to back off, get a nice vantage point, and get some excellent shots.

He sang for me the entire time, too! Really love the meadowlark song, very musical.

(NOTE: No setup of any kind here...completely natural, by-chance setting.)

Male Meadowlark
Cherry Creek State Park
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2

After some googling, I'd say this is the Western Meadowlark, which is more melodious than the eastern kind. Seems to spend most of its time on the ground; even the nest is just a shallow, ground-level bowl of grass, though a dome may be built over it.  The male will defend its territory vigorously -- but this one seemed calm in the face of a human.

Beautifully captured!

Oh yes, definitely a western. We do get some eastern meadowlarks here, but the westerns definitely dominate. The eastern meadowlarks have a higher pitched and "thinner" song than the westerns, and it isn't quite as melodious.

1491
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:46:04 AM »
I for one would love to try "behavioral camo" sometimes: pretending to be part of the environment, appearing uninterested in the subject, slowly moving close, etc.

Or, instead of pretending...you could ACTUALLY become part of the environment! :P



Ghillie Suits FTW!

I am actually in the process of making one of these...I have an old super-cheap net and leaf camo suit that I'm tying frayed yarn strands into....greens, browns, tans. I'm also planning on tying in some of the dried grass straw from Cherry Creek and some of the other parks around that I photograph at. It's primarily to see if it helps me get some better shots of the Kingfishers, which are notoriously difficult birds to shoot...they get all uppity when I'm around, and will only fish when they actually see me leave. I figure, if I can sneak in like a literal bush, maybe they'll get down to business and start fishin in front of my lens! :D

1492
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:11:17 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!

While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.

I wonder if anyone here has used those?

To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!

Kimwipes are like tissue paper...very thin. They won't really "wipe" in the rain...however, they are superior for absorbing water droplets without leaving any residue or spots of their own behind. So you can dab a lens to pick up water droplets, and that works quite well (assuming the wipe didn't get obliterated by the rain before you got it to the front of the lens).

I'd like to see some of the negative comments you found about Kimwipes. It's pretty rare that you find anything negative about them. They have almost universally positive reviews at Amazon (i.e. there are 75 four and five star reviews, and only 2 three, two, and one star reviews each; as far as positive vs. neutral/negative review ratios go at Amazon, that is stellar!) Everyone I know in any industry that requires high quality wipes has only ever had good things to say about them. My eye doctor uses them (they have kimwipe boxes everywhere), a jeweler friend uses them religiously, I know a few product photographers who photograph valuable jewelry and coins, they swear by kimwipes.

They are some of the most loved microfiber wipes I know of. The next best runner up would probably be Pec*Pads, which are more specifically targeted at lens cleaning (specifically for photography). Pec*Pads cost anywhere from three to five times as much for half as many wipes (i.e. you can usually find 280 kimwipes for about $4.50, where as 100 pecpads are usually $12-14.) PecPads are different, structurally...where as a kimwipe actually feels rough (it doesn't damage the lens, the rough feel is actually what makes them work so well...it's a flat surface with pits), pecpads feel very soft. Pecpads do live up to their lint-free name, however they are not the same as a microfiber cloth...they don't pick up and lift off oily residues nearly as well as kimwipes. If you use a solution, pecpads work fine...but you already seem to know the potential downsides of using cleaning solutions. Without solutions, you'll often find that the more expensive and supposedly purpose-designed photographic wipes don't actually clean...all they really do is smear oily residues around.

I really, honestly do highly recommend kimwipes. I went through a lot of cleaning wipes and solutions when I first got into photography. It blew my mind how easy it was for oily crap to get on my lenses, and I could never get it off, or if I did, I eventually found out that the solutions I used to clean my lenses ended up just making it easier for more oils and dust to get stuck to the lens because of the residues left behind. (I eventually did fine one organic solvent that works superbly and does not leave behind any residue, but I haven;t used it since I found kimwipes.) Kimwipes are an odd thing...they don't feel smooth or soft, they have the faintest rough feel, and that often scares people off. That's the irony about them, though, as the pitted surface is exactly what you want for a lens cleaning wipe...the surface itself is smooth, the pits create a grabbing edge that picks up oil, and the pits collect it. You don't need any solutions, just the lightest amount of elbow grease and steady, broad circular motions, and you can pretty much eliminate every last bit of sticky, oily crap from your lenses.

I'm honestly not a sales man for KimTech...kimwipes are just the best lens cleaning product I've ever used, by a very big margin.

1493
EOS Bodies / Re: More Sensor Technology Talk [CR1]
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:30:20 AM »
...
Sigma wastes far too much time, money, and effort trying to trick potential customers into thinking they will get more resolution with a Foveon than a bayer, which is just a blatant, outright lie. I don't appreciate that, and yes, I fault Sigma for it. If Sigma would take a big chunk of their false advertising budget and inject it into their R&D department instead, I think they could make Foveon viable both on the color fidelity and spatial resolution fronts, and actually have a real competitor on their hands. But sadly, they keep pushing their missleading advertising.

If Canon come out and say that their 15MP layered sensor is in fact 45MP, how are you going to
respond? 15 is just an example, maybe it will be 20, maybe some other number. But the challenge will be how to market it as being superior to a 36MP Nikon or a 36MP Sony.

If Canon comes out and makes spurrious claims about how their 15mp layered sensor is really a 45mp sensor, I'll be the first to call them out for using the same missleading tactics as Sigma. I almost hope they do, and if they do, I really hope your still around, because I would love to prove to you that I stick to the facts and the physics, regardless of brand.

How many times have you heard me say the D800 has a superior sensor at low ISO, or in terms of resolution (hell, just a couple posts ago I stated that the D800 had twice the resolution as the 1D X)? I only dispute what's wrong. The Foveon, like Canon's DPAF, is not a magic bullet. It cannot give you more resolution than it actually has. Canon DPAF cannot give you more resolution, because DPAF isn't about resolution. The D800 cannot give you better high ISO performance because high ISO performance is physics-limited. I could care less about the brand...all I really care about are the facts, the engineering, and the physics when it comes to what a sensor or camera is capable of.

I would have thought my tiraid against the mistaken notions of Canon's DPAF also being a magic bullet for better IQ in the future would be an indication of how little I care about brand when debating the facts.

Quote
I spent over ten grand on a lens last year.

Why should we care about this?

Well, if your going to intentionally miss the point, you shouldn't.  :P

1494
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:23:01 AM »
Killdeer

One of the most ubiquitous shorebirds in the US, the Killdeer is hard to miss. Between their incessant "injured bird" act and fast antics as they spurt about along shores and around grasslands in their "dash-pause" manner, they are also probably the most well known plover. They are larger than a lot of other plovers, like Piping or Semipalmated, and have longer legs. They have two slightly different plumages...one with two white bands around the neck during breeding season, and one white and one cream colored band during the winter season.

They have a very persistent technique for protecting their nests and their young by playing the injured bird...with a high pitched, lilting chirp, flipping one wing out at an oddly-cocked angle, and showing off rusty-red colored underfeathers that look like they might be covered in blood, they play the hurt card until your close, then jet off with a broken, jerky flight a dozen or so feet out in front of you. Get close again, and they keep drawing you away from whatever it is they don't want you to find. ;) Clever little bastards. :P

Based on the ruckus last year every time I got near a throng of Killdeer, I'm sure they breed in Cherry Creek. I have not yet found any nests or chicks. Unlike the more common beaches where shorebirds are most often found breeding, Cherry Creek is FULL of hiding places, and finding baby birds is near impossible...even if you spot one, they skitter about and disappear into the brush without a trace, never to be seen again. Maybe this year I'll manage to glimpse some baby shorebirds.

Killdeer (Plover)
Cherry Creek State Park (Cottonwood Creek)
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2


1495
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:09:09 AM »
The last shot was pretty much uncropped and not a lot I could do (tricky with 780 reach).  Same with this one.

Oh, I missed that you were using the 2x TC. I guess you kind of need the TC with the pixel count of the 1D II...but generally, I'd drop that and just use the 300 bare with a little bit of cropping if you can get away with it.

1496
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:06:04 AM »
I don't use microfiber cloths, I use microfiber wipes. Kimwipes, to be exact. You can get boxes of them for super cheap, or whole crates of them for even cheaper. They are scientific grade microfiber wipes that are specifically designed with rigid fibers. It isn't so much the fibers that clean, as the pits in the wipe that actually collect and lift off oils and other crap from the lens.

I usually use them dry, no solvent, and I've never had any issues. No smearing, no scratching.

I don't use Kimwipes alone, though. I also a LensPen. My general routine is to dust off the lens with the lenspen brush end, then to use the kimwipe, then use the carbon lifter on the lenspen to buff out any stubborn spots if there are any. I picked up the three-piece lenspen kit, which includes a lenspen for lenses, one for filters, and a small one that I use to clean up my viewfinder eyepiece (which is by far the dirtiest lens element I have, and the one that gets dirty most often. :P) The lenspen kit comes with a microfiber cloth that contains three holding slots for the pens, and it bundles up nicely and fits into your pocket or a small pocket in a camera bag.

Between the kimwipes and the lens pens, I never have to bother with solvents, so no need to be careful with chemicals. I never have to wash anything, as the kimwipes are disposable and biodegradable. Eventually the lenspens wear out (they use carbon-activated lifters on one end, and there is only so much carbon in the caps...plus, I've noticed that if you aren't extremely careful, the brush end inevitably picks up some oils off your fingers, and eventually you either figure out a way to clean it that doesn't leave behind a residue, or just buy another lens pen.)

1497
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 03, 2014, 11:49:39 PM »
Willet

Shorebirds are some of my favorite birds. I always loved seeing them when I visited a few beaches known for attracting them in California when growing up. Last year was pretty much the year of the shorebird, we had more of them, and more variety of species, than I'd ever seen before. That was thanks to the extremely hot summers and mild winters of the two years prior (2012 and 2013), which created unprecedented mud flats and sandy shores around Cherry Creek reservoir, which created prime shorebird feeding grounds.

Between the deadly rains we had last September (it literally rained non-stop for over a week, no wind, the rain just fell vertically out of the sky at a high rate for days, flooding everything), and the hefty snow pack in the mountains this winter, water levels at Cherry Creek are some of the highest I've seen. Water is backlogged right back through the wetlands, and a couple days recently it was flowing backwards out of the lake because water levels were so high. Without much in the way of shores and mud flats, I don't expect to see as many shorebirds this year.

Thus, it was pretty nice to see a Willet meandering up and down one of the shores of Cottonwood Creek's wetland (a flow control system just south of Cherry Creek reservoir.) Willets are a bit larger shorebirds, larger than most pipers, slightly larger than Solitary Sandpipers. They are pretty bland at first look, but on closer inspection their gray is actually a number of colors and patterns, including gray, white, black, and some shades of brown and tan. They have fairly beefy bills compared to most sandpipers, more akin to a Godwit or Snipe.

Willet
Cherry Creek State Park (Cottonwood Creek Wetland)
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2


1498
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 03, 2014, 11:36:30 PM »
"Ah, I have to say, after the long and very cold winter here in Colorado, it's really nice to have some warm weather where I can hang out with the birds without shivering to death."

You've got that right, Jon. 

This was a pretty brutal winter. We didn't have as much snow as we've had in the past...but the cold was killer. I had two months where my heating bill (just to keep my house at 63°F) was over $250 (my "normal" bill is $75, and usually around $100-110 in the winter).

Really glad the cold is gone.


I was just out wandering in the bush without the camera (kinda chilly at around 0 C).  +17 one day, 0 the next ugh.  We're behind you relative to spring but there are ducks showing up daily and I got a far shot of a cinnamon teal the other day as well as a northern shouveler.  And this goose with the 1D2, 300 X2.  Oh to have this frame rate with a better camera!

Hmm! When did you get a 1D II? I bet that frame rate is nice! :P I have too many photography-related hobbies to plop the cash down on a 1D X, as much as I know I'd love it's frame rate and AF system. I'll be getting a 5D III soon here, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss having 8fps. But, with the money I'll save by not getting a 1D X, I'll also be able to get a nice high quality astro CCD imager and a few upgrades for my mount.

Anyway, great flight shot of the goose! The detail is excellent. Your 300mm lens is ideal for BIF...I have a pretty hard time with BIF using my 600 unless the birds are a good distance away (although that usually results in lower IQ due to waver vapor and evaporating water warping things.) I'm not sure if you cropped that...if you did, I recommend pulling the crop out more...it is a bit too tight. I think it is best to leave a decent amount of negative space around the bird, with more ahead of it's direction of flight than behind.

1499
Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Zeiss Otus Initial Impressions
« on: May 03, 2014, 09:10:55 PM »
My first attempts at posting Images on this thread.

Used the Otus on both the 1Dx & 5DMK III recently while in Bali, found it almost impossible to get the focus spot on using the viewfinder, but once I got the hang of using Live view, zoomed to fix focus, then it starts to come together.

1Dx + Otus 55f/1.4 shot @ f/1.4 & 1/1250th ISO200

It really is amazing how sharp that lens is wide open. I really love that. I need to get a 5D III this year, but I may just have to put an Otus on my list for the future...it's just phenomena.

Out of curiosity, what is the MFD? Can it be used as a closeup lens for objects within a foot or two?

1500
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 03, 2014, 09:01:18 PM »
Blue-Winged Teal

For most of the year, were Mallard-central here in Colorado. Mallards are everywhere all the time. They even hang out well into winter, and tend to get here sooner than any of the other duck species. One of the species I find to be quite beautiful are the teals, particularly the Blue-Winged Teals. A few of these beauties were racing (literally) around the Cherry Creek duck ponds...chasing food, chasing after each other, or just simply racing around for the fun of it.

It was actually a rather entertaining show, and they didn't seem to mind my proximity (I set up RIGHT on the edge of shore...I actually ended up creating a puddle where I sat, as the pond is right into the water table, and there is always a muddy shore). A few of the males came right up to me while chasing after tasty morsels of food, so I was able to get some nice shots with a low perspective.

Ah, I have to say, after the long and very cold winter here in Colorado, it's really nice to have some warm weather where I can hang out with the birds without shivering to death.

Blue-Winged Teal, Males
Cherry Creek State Park (Cottonwood Creek)
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2

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