Thursday, March 31, 2016

Moon with a 400 DO II at 1600 mm

Seeing conditions were not too bad over our islands early this morning of March 31st, so I dug out my doublers to try out the 400 DO II at mooning.

Live View CD AF on the 7D2 surprisingly works fairly fast even at f/16. The 1600 mm combo is still light enough to hand hold, but I used a tripod to allow me to shoot at a low ISO (and consequentially slow Tv) for better file processability.

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Shooting info - Bued River, La Union, northern Philippines, March 31, 2016 (4:10 am, local time), Canon 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 2x TC II + EF 2x TC III, 1600 mm, f/16 (wide open), 1/30 sec, ISO 160, Live View AF, remote switch, 455B/UBH45 support, single RAW capture, near full frame resized to 800 x 533..

 High res 2400 x 1600 version



Monday, March 7, 2016

Flight feathers in a photogenic full spread

This good-looking little spitfire was flying in my general direction at La Trinidad (Benguet) when it suddenly banked in a tight radius. It presumably pulled several Gs in the process, not unlike what a fighter pilot experiences when his jet does a similar maneuver.
 
The bird had to open up all its flight feathers for maximum surface area, and braking efficiency, to do the quick aerial turn. By chance, the wind was coming from behind me, and from the same direction as the mid-afternoon sun. When the vectors of the wind and light source coincide, BIF shooting becomes ideal.
 
My light hand held combo of 7D II and a TC-less 400 DO II didn't disappoint as far as frame rate, focus speed and IQ are concerned.
 
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Striated Swallow (Hirundo striolata , resident)

Habitat - Gorges and canyons, may also be found in open country, even in towns. 
 
 
Shooting info - Elev. 1315 m ASL, La Trinidad, Benguet, March 6, 2016, Canon 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, ISO 320, 1/2500 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 1000.
 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Siberian Rubythroat in Baguio, Striated Swallow in La Trinidad

I made a quick visit this weekend to the City of Pines to check out the strawberry festival at nearby La Trinidad. I brought my lightweight birding combo (7D II + 400 f/4 DO II + 1.4x TC III) just in case some feathered friends are in the mood for a photo session.

True enough, I saw a Siberian Rubythroat at Camp John Hay where I stopped for breakfast. I got only a few documentary shots, but I was lucky to capture the more colorful male.

Meantime, while I was enjoying a pile of succulent strawberries at La Trinidad a few hours later, I noticed a flock of Striated Swallows zipping above the parking lot. I quickly dismounted the 1.4x TC III to make acquisition more manageable and to speed up the AF of the combo, both helpful in catching these fast BIFs.
 
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Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope, migrant, male)

Habitat - uncommon in early second growth, open country and tall reeds. 

 
Shooting info - Elev. 1400 m ASL, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, March 6, 2016, Canon 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/160 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800x533.
 
 
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Striated Swallow (Hirundo striolata , resident)

Habitat - Gorges and canyons, may also be found in open country, even in towns. 

 
Shooting info - Elev. 1315 m ASL, La Trinidad, Benguet, March 6, 2016, Canon 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, ISO 320, 1/2500 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800x533.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

0.3 second worth of fishing action

Time is relative, indeed.

Sometimes, a wader can stand motionless for hours without anything happening.

At other times, everything just happens at once.

It's interesting to see how much action can be packed into a mere fraction of a second, specially if this is recorded for posterity by a fast focusing, high frame rate birding gear.

Here's a three-frame, 10 fps burst taken of a successful fishing strike by this graceful wader at the fishponds of  Sto. Tomas (La Union) recently.


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Great Egret (Egretta alba, migrant)

Habitat - Uncommon in a variety of wetlands from coastal marshes to ricefields.


Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, January 13, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.


Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, January 13, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.


Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, January 13, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kingfisher with my old 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC III

Just checking if my 7D MII and 2x TC III works well with my old 400 2.8 IS.  After a couple of months of shooting a 400 DO II, the bigger 400 felt even heavier than usual. However, its optics are still as sharp as ever even with a doubler and shot wide open.

A kingfisher perched under the canopy of some trees along the Bued River allowed me to get within full framing distance earlier today. The bird's feathers are still partially moist from a previous attempt to catch its meal along a shallow stream.

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White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis, resident)

Habitat - Clearings, along large streams and rivers, and in open country. 

Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, January 20, 2016, 7D MII + EF 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC III,
800 mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 1250, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A headless Whiskered Tern

This common migratory water bird was coming in to land on a stake in the middle of one of the fishponds at Sto. Tomas (La Union) yesterday. The wind was blowing in my face in a steady breeze. Since birds normally land while facing the wind, I was presented with an avian posterior instead of its photogenic front side.
 
Just the same, I raised my shooting gear, acquired the subject, and fired off a short burst, hoping that my very fast shutter speed can capture and freeze an interesting wing pose. Looks like I got what I wished for. To my color-blind eyes, the side lighting gave the subject some sort of a 3D look.
 
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Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, non-breeding plumage)

Habitat - Bays, tidal flats to ricefields. 
 
Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, January 7, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
 400 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop.

 
 
 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A raptor's mid-air dinner in sweet light

After a couple of weeks of hectic Christmas activities, I managed to find some time to go afield yesterday, January 6th - my first birding sortie in the new year. The skies were virtually cloudless over the vast fishponds of Sto. Tomas (La Union). I took off my 1.4x TC III to allow more photons to reach the 7D MII's AF sensor, thus increasing AF speed and responsiveness under the dying light of the day.
 
 As the sun got low over the South China Sea, my regular customer arrived to catch its next meal.
 
The raptor promptly grabbed its prey at the well-stocked fishpond and proceeded to eat its dinner in the air, while soaring in the steady breeze. I let go of a long burst, and I was lucky to have one frame with the beak open, ready to munch the soft flesh of the tilapia. The quality and direction of light was very favorable, allowing me to expose the contrasting plumage well. It's normally tough to capture detail of this raptor's eye, but in this case the light angle was just right.
 
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Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus, resident, adult)

Habitat - Open areas often near water, and also in mountains to 1500 m.


Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, January 6, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 1000.
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Osprey grabs a fish at Sto. Tomas

This migratory raptor, whose wingspan exceeds four feet, feeds exclusively on fish. Its diving routine to catch its regular meal is one of nature's awesome spectacles.
 
I was privileged to witness this fishing raptor get its prey at the vast fishponds of Sto. Tomas recently. The bird closes its nictitating membrane (a semi-transparent secondary eyelid) at the point of impact to protect its eyes from damage. When this image was taken a split second after the grab, the nictitating membrane was still unretracted.
 
Again, I'm impressed by the amazingly quick AF of  my new BIF rig (7D MII + 400 f/4 DO IS II + 1.4x TC II). My reaction time to acquiring and tracking the diving hunter was delayed, but the combo was quick enough to compensate for the shooter's slowness. It managed to lock in almost instantly to capture this first frame of a short burst.
 
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Osprey (Pandion haliaetus, migrant)

Habitat - Associated with water both along coast and inland. 
 
Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, December 9, 2015, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.
 
 

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