Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's Christmas.... let no pixel be harmed :)

I spent my December 25th cleaning my gear, charging my batteries and checking if all my photo systems are still working by birding around my mother's backyard here in La Union, northern Philippines.

Since it's Christmas Day, I thought it'd be appropriate not to harm any pixel by avoiding wasteful cropping. It looks like my poor man's 800 f/5.6 (a.k.a. 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC) has maintained its decent IQ even when used wide open.
 
Happy Holidays!

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Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier, resident)

Habitat: Common in gardens, urban areas and grasslands but not in mature forests. 


 
Shooting info - Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, December 25, 2014, 1D MIV + EF 400 f/2.8 IS + EF 2x TC II, 800 mm, f/5.6,
ISO 1250, 1/320 sec, manual exposure in available light, AI servo, 475B + 516 support, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533.
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Amur Falcon in La Union - a new Philippine record!

The exciting news on the confirmation of ID came from avian expert Desmond Allen, relayed via PM at PBPF yesterday. The raptor I photographed recently in my home province, which I initially identified as a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), turned out to be something different.
 
Actually, very different and record setting..... the images were the first known occurrence in the wild of this species in the Philippines!

I guess this is what wild bird photography is all about - having fun in the capture and sharing of avian images. Sometimes, as a bonus, a lucky birdnut can make a bit of contribution to science and general knowledge, too.
 
Here's a couple of snapshots of the new bird, I wish I can see it again soon so I can get more aesthetically pleasing photographs. This species became my 276th photo-lifer. :)

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Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis, female, migrant, new Philippine record)
 
Habitat - this individual was seen in grassland/pasture land.
 
 
Shooting info - Talogtog, San Juan, La Union, Philippines, November 1, 2014, Canon 1D MIV + EF 500 f4 L IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 400, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support.

Shooting info - Talogtog, San Juan, La Union, Philippines, November 1, 2014, Canon 1D MIV + EF 500 f4 L IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 400, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support.
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Getting low to the level of a Pipit

Losing 35 pounds of excess baggage from my old body has its advantages when stalking my subjects - it's much easier for me now to get down and crawl on the grass to take low level shots.

Measuring only 6-1/2 inches from the tip of its longish tail to the end of its bill, this bird usually forages on the grass for insects and invertebrates, stopping once in a while to survey its surroundings. To keep up with the active bird, I had set my 5D MIII's AF to AI servo and used settings similar to what I utilize for BIFs.

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Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus, resident, formerly called Richard's Pipit)
 
Habitat - On the ground in open country, grasslands, ricefields and parks.
 
Shooting Info - Talogtog, San Juan, La Union, November 1, 2014, Canon 5D MIII + EF 500 f4 L IS + EF 1.4x TC II,
700 mm, f/6.3, ISO 640, 1/1250 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held.
 

1500 x 1000 version

Friday, October 10, 2014

Birding with a pre-production Canon EOS 7D Mark II

With the confirmed good IQ of the large prints, I consider my rolling review of the pre-production 7D Mark II done. It was a joy shooting this latest piece of DSLR technology, which can potentially replace all my existing DSLRs (1D4, 5D3 and 7D) without loss of functionality or capability.
I look forward to shooting my own production 7DMII soonest. :)

Romy Ocon
30 October 2014

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Large prints from the beta 7D Mark II

A couple of 24" x 36" prints from the pre-production 7D Mark II were displayed during a photo-workshop I conducted at Baguio City yesterday, October 26th. As I expected, the prints turned out nicely as far as IQ is concerned, even when examined up close.
Here's a snapshot of this birdnut while we were mounting the display. :)
7D + 10 mm, f/4, 1/50 sec, ISO 1600, on-board flash at -2/3 FEC, hand held.
And here's reposting the two photos that were printed large:

Flaming Sunbird (Aethopyga flagrans, male, a Philippine endemic)


7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II + EF 1.4x TC II, 840 mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/160 sec, manual exposure in available light, off-center spot AI servo, 475B/516 support, uncropped full frame resized to 800x533.




Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)


7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec,
manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.


Romy Ocon
October 27, 2014
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A crop too far

Sometimes, the BIF is too small in the frame to make a decent sized print and such shots I usually delete right after chimping, unless the species is a photo-lifer. But if the DSLR used has a good pixel count packed into a smaller sensor like the 7D MII, the resulting high pixel density allows for massive cropping, with enough detail left for small prints or web display.
Here's an example:
Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Habitat - Uncommon, in marshes, ricefields, and fishponds in shallow water rarely on exposed mud and coral flats.
Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II,
f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.


Larger 1500x1000 version

 
Flawed as the image is (too small in the frame, boring background, flattish light and high shooting angle), I'm keeping it because it's the best in-flight shot I got of this uncommon migrant so far. I hope to see this species in flight again with better shooting conditions when I've the production 7D MII on hand. :)


Romy Ocon
24 October 2014


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My AF workflow at BIFs using the beta 7D Mark II

(Reposting my reply to a couple of questions on AF at DP Review and Fred Miranda forums)
 

I used AI servo, and Case 1.

I alternated among 5-points, 9 points and 15 points (all central). I felt that the responsiveness of the AF system seems to be inversely proportional to the number of active AF points used; i.e. the 5-points is most responsive while the 15-points is least (difference in responsiveness is very, very slight though).

 On the other side of the AF equation, choosing a small number of active AF points might give you a more responsive system, but keeping the small AF area on the BIF is also more difficult. So, one has to balance AF responsiveness vs size of AF net to be cast.


I use 15-points at featureless BG (like the sky), regardless of the color of plumage.


I use 5-points when the plumage is less contrasty and/or the BG is featured (say terrain).


I use 9-points for intermediate situations.

Note that this AF workflow is a result of only a few days of BIF shooting with the beta 7D MII. Once I get a production unit and spend more time with it in the field, I expect the workflow to evolve further.

By the way, there's a very interesting behavior of the 7D MII's AI Servo AF at BIFs that makes it different from my 1D4/5D3/7D. When the BG is featured and contrasty, the 7D MII will sometimes focus first on that. But as long as I kept the AF points group on the bird, the AF system shortly refocuses on the intended subject (nearer to the shooter) and keep it there (as long as I do my panning job well).

My older BIF cameras were often near hopeless when the BG was more contrasty than the BIF, especially when the bird is very small in the frame.


Romy Ocon
19 October 2014


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Placement of critical focus at an incoming BIF

A bird flying towards the camera is a good test of the performance of the AF system of the 7D Mark II. In this particular image, placement of critical focus is right at the head/eye area. This can be readily confirmed by examining the 100% crop posted below - the tip of bill and the shoulder area are less sharp than the eye.

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II,
f/6.3, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x640.


Larger 1250x1000 version



Processed 100% crop


Here's another incoming bird in full speed flight. Again, the 7D Mark II's AI servo AF delivers.

Oriental Pratincole (Glaerola maldivarum, in non-breeding plumage) 


Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II,
f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, 6 MP crop resized to 800x533.



Larger 1500x1000 version 


Romy Ocon
17 October 2014


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Timing a Luzon Hornbill's head flip (ISO 6400)

This balete tree (a fig species) near TREES Hostel at the base of Mt. Makiling was fruiting, and many species of birds were enjoying the virtual feast. I knew from past observations of this bird's behavior that sometimes it flips the little fruit in the air before swallowing.
I prepared my gear for action shooting in manual exposure mode - I took off the teleconverter and opened up the aperture for more brightness, dialed the Tv to 1/1600 to freeze the motion,  set the sensitivity to ISO 6400, and selected AI servo AF. 
I then trained my shooting combo on this foraging female. Sure enough, it flipped the fruit in the air and I let go of a short 10 fps burst. One shot caught the fruit in between the open beak (as I wished for), albeit it would've been better if there was good separation from the upper mandible.
With respect to the high ISO used, is there noise in the image when looking closely at the full-res file? Of course, there is. Even my 5D Mark III, with its fat light-sucking pixels, has noise grains at such high sensitivity. But the 7D MII's noise grains are very fine and I reckon this 13.5 MP crop will make at least a 13"x19" print with decent IQ even when examined up close. I couldn't see any banding either.

Shooting info - Mt. Makiling, Laguna, Philippines, October 15, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II,
600 mm, f/4, ISO 6400, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, AI servo, 475B/516 support, 13.5 MP crop resized to 800x533.


Larger 1500x1000 version


Romy Ocon
17 October 2014

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Portrait of an undergrowth skulker (ISO 3200)

With a total length of about 16 inches, the Red-crested Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus superciliosus, a Philippine endemic) is fairly large, and this  shot is one good example of having too long a reach (doesn't happen very often in birding).
The bird appeared suddenly in an opening in the understory, hunting invertebrates. It was constantly moving and I had neither the time to take the 1.4x TC off nor the opportunity to walk backwards to frame the whole subject. How I wish I had a 200-400 f4 IS mounted!
Shooting info - Mt. Makiling, Laguna, Philippines, October 15, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II + EF 1.4x TC II,
840 mm, f/5.6, ISO 3200, 1/250 sec, manual exposure in available light, spot AI servo, 475B/516 support, uncropped full frame resized to 800x533.


Larger 1500x1000 version


Romy Ocon
17 October 2014

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Filling the frame with a tiny Flaming Sunbird

This Flaming Sunbird (Aethopyga flagrans, male, a Philippine endemic) was feeding on a flowering banana-like plant at Mt. Makiling earlier today, October 15th. The bird's total length is only 95 mm (3.75 inches). I had to snap on a 1.4x TC to fill the 7D Mark II's frame with the tiny subject.
The banana-like plant is located in the undergrowth, plus the skies were heavily overcast, so light was low during the capture. This makes the shot a challenging exposure task - the Tv has to be fast enough to freeze the active bird, but choosing a very high ISO will limit the useable dynamic range (and increase noise). This can cause some problems with the bright flower and the breast of the bird, contrasting with the dark throat.
I settled on a slowish 1/160 sec to keep the ISO manageable, and just fired short bursts to increase the chances of getting the bird in between movements.

Shooting info - Mt. Makiling, Laguna, Philippines, October 15, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II + EF 1.4x TC II,
840 mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/160 sec, manual exposure in available light, off-center spot AI servo, 475B/516 support, uncropped full frame resized to 800x533.


Larger 1500x1000 version

Romy Ocon
15 October 2014

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Egret catches eel, flies away with its meal

This Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia) caught a small eel in a rice paddy and immediately flew away from the flock to enjoy its meal. It escaped from the other birds that tried to take away the tasty prey, but its bright plumage couldn't evade the 7D MII's AF sensor. :)

Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II,
f/6.3, ISO 320, 1/2500 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.


Larger 1500x1000 version

Romy Ocon
14 October 2014

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Can a 7D Mark II catch a Dragonfly-in-Flight (DIF)?

Ok, so I'm impressed with the 7D MII's AF at BIFs. But then, those are relatively large targets, and they're are not really on top of the degree of difficulty scale as far as subject acquisition and focus tracking are concerned.
While waiting for BIFs to appear, some dragonflies hovering over the newly planted rice paddies caught my attention. Would I be crazy enough to try and capture a DIF?
You bet I am! I tried hard, and it was really very tough to get the two-inch long critters within the VF, much less nail the focus. But in between gusts of wind, the gods of telephoto action photography smiled and one lucky shot managed to freeze one in mid-air.
DRAGONFLY-IN-FLIGHT: Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/7.1, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support.
6 MP crop resized to 800x533.

Larger 1500x1000 version


Romy Ocon
14 October 2014

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A long burst at an approaching Whiskered Tern

The Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) is a common migratory bird in our islands. Its habitat includes bays, tidal flats and ricefields. It has a total length of 254 mm and a wingspan of about 635 mm.
It flies slowly over an area when feeding, hence it's a good candidate for testing the 7D MII's AF under sustained long bursts. The five frames posted here came from a long burst of 28 shots, with over 90% focused critically at the head area. The less than 10% not in perfect focus is most probably a result of my panning clumsiness, as it's tough to frame a bird and follow its flight through 960 mm angle of view.
The background are newly planted rice paddies. As usual, you need to click on the larger 1500x1000 versions if you wish to see more detail.
Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, 3600x2400 (8.64 MP) crops resized to 800x533.

File name - RO723634


File name - RO723635

Larger 1500x1000 version


File name - RO723636

Larger 1500x1000 version




File name - RO723637
Larger 1500x1000 version



File name - RO723638

Larger 1500x1000 version
More BIF images to come.


Romy Ocon
14 October 2014



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A Wood Sandpiper coming at me

The Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) is a migrant to our islands. With a total length of 210 mm (8.25 inches), it's not a large water bird. Those who are familiar with the behavior of this species know that it flies very fast and erratically; in fact, I haven't been able to catch one in flight before.
Yesterday, I noticed one coming in low over a rice paddy that is being prepared for planting. I swung the 7D MII + 600 f4 IS II combo immediately to try to acquire the BIF. Fortunately, I was able to find it in the VF in a split second, and the camera's AF reacted very fast. That the 7D MII's AF kept up with the incoming, fast BIF impresses me no end.
Here's a burst of three shots. Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines, October 13, 2014, Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, 6 MP crops resized to 800x533. Please see the larger 1500x1000 versions for more detail and less resizing artifacts. 

File name - RO724214



File name - RO724215


File name - RO724216



Romy Ocon
14 October 2014




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Second and third day in the field (October 12th and 13th)

I just got home from two straight days of photographing birds in flight at Candaba wetlands. Though I'm exhausted from the dawn-to-dusk shooting, and driving back through the chaotic traffic of Metro Manila, I thought I'd process and post a few BIFs before retiring to bed.
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)
7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec,
manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/6.3, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec,
manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.
7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec,
manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800x533.

My impression in a nutshell - I've shot hundreds of frames at BIFs in two days, in a wide range of lighting, with sky and terrestrial backgrounds, with varied plumage colors and flight trajectories. IMHO, the 7D Mark II is the best focusing DSLR (in terms of AF speed, focus accuracy and ease of use) I've shot at flying birds. I've not used the 1Dx though, so I'm not sure how the 7D MII's AF compares with that body. But I'd certainly prefer the new camera over my 1D MIV and 5D MIII if my main basis of choice are AF performance and frame rate.
With the 7D MII's amazing AF, BIF photography has become much easier for me.
Will post more  BIF samples from Candaba wetlands tomorrow morning.
Romy Ocon
13 October 2014
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First day in the field (October 11th)

I visited a fellow birder's farm at Rosario, Batangas (a couple of hours drive south of Manila) to familiarize myself with the camera's AF behavior at BIFs.
It rained early in the afternoon, but I was able to get a few bursts in the morning. My initial impression on the AF is very encouraging. I have also tested a pre-prod 7D and 1D MIV way back, and of the three bodies, I'm impressed most at first use by  the new 7D MII.
The 7D MII's AF is definitely snappier than its older brother. Compared to the 1D MIV, it's too early to say anything definitive on their relative AF performance. But my expectations during testing were much higher on the 1D MIV (it being a top pro body), and that factor perhaps is nudging me towards having a higher "first use" regard for the 7D MII. We'll see how this pans out in the next few days.
As regards IQ, the noise at mid-ISOs is noticeably lower than that of my 7D, though I'm not sure yet how it compares to that of my 1D MIV.
Here are a few early BIF samples. Note that I'm processing from a laptop screen, and I might have to re-process these when I get back to my calibrated LCD display.



Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
 
7D MII + 600 f4 L IS II, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop.



White-breasted Wood-swallow (Artamus leucorynchus

 
Uncropped full frame resized to 800x533 - 7D MII + 600 f4 IS II, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320, manual exposure, 475B/516 support.


6 MP crop resized to 800 x 533.

Larger 1500 x 1000 version




Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)

 
1.92 MP crop processed and resized to 800x600.




I hope the weather is better on the second day so I can capture more BIFs.


Romy Ocon
11 October 2014




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"The pre-production unit is here, you may pick it up right away."

Thus read a text message from JayR Romero of Canon Philippines, one I had eagerly anticipated.

Since September 30th, I've been waiting for the arrival of a pre-production 7D Mark II in our islands. JayR assured me of a first test shoot with the new camera once it arrives from Hong Kong, but there was some delay in the shipping and it arrived only today (October 10th).

In addition to the pre-production 7D Mark II, I also borrowed a 600 f/4 IS II from Canon Philippines. I'm hesitant to use my dated workhorse lenses (500 f4 IS and 400 2.8 IS) on the new camera, as the older gear might restrain the new body from performing to its potential. It's interesting to note that a 600 f4 IS II + 2x TC (1200 mm f/8)  on a 7D MII is a combo with some serious reach,  especially with IS and working AF.

Among the many new features of the camera, I'm most excited on the following which relate to birding, nature and telephoto action photography/filming:

1. 10 fps burst rate
2. 65-point all cross-type AF system (with AF at f/8)
3. 20.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor (Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors)
4. 24 - 31 frames RAW buffer
5. 1080/59.94p video
6. Dual card slots (CF + SD)
7. 100% Viewfinder
8. GPS
9. 200K cycle shutter and enhanced dust/weather resistance
10. Intervalometer

More details and information about the 7D Mark II at Canon USA website.




A birding combo with serious reach - Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF 600 f4 L IS II.

A closer look at the pre-production camera - the white box is unmarked, except a sticker that says "SAMPLE."
A printed manual, some software disks, as well as some cables and a battery charger are also included.

Firstly, I need to check the micro-focus adjustment (MFA) of the 7D II + the series II big white (with and without TCs), while the battery is charging. I want to make sure that AF placement of the combos will be as precise as possible in the field.

I'm off tomorrow to bird for several days with the new camera. Wishing for some sweet light (and well groomed feathered creatures) in the field. Will post here my impressions from time to time.

Romy Ocon
10 October 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Workshop on Telephoto Action Photography











Photos from the workshop:

Romy Ocon delivers a short lecture on his favorite techniques.
13"x19" prints of Romy's telephoto action images - birds in flight and surfing - are displayed during the workshop.

Romy gives tips to the workshop participants before a shoot of wushu performers.

Romy demonstrates how to shoot telephoto action images using a 1Dx + 200-400 f4 IS.

A participant gets  hands-on instruction from Canon Crusader Romy Ocon.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Full framing a Whiskered Tern in flight

It's not often that I get a BIF shot whose framing out of the camera is already ok to my taste, and there's no need to crop (and throw away information) to strengthen the composition.
 
I previously noticed on Google Earth that there is a wide area under water at the western seaboard of Sto. Tomas town, La Union. This March 8th (2014), I did a scouting run in that place and found out that good concrete roads lead into the middle of what turned out to be many hectares of fishponds. It is a promising spot for water birds in flight, and I'll be back there soon for more BIF shots.
 
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Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, non-breeding plumage)

Habitat - Bays, tidal flats to ricefields.
 
Shooting info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, March 8, 2014, 1D Mark IV + EF 500 f4 IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 640, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, uncropped full frame.
Larger version
 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Eastern Marsh-Harrier in flight

This medium sized, migratory raptor (wing span - 1.22 meters) is often seen flying low over the ground, searching intently for prey such as small mammals, frogs and birds. With its eyes fixed on ground targets most of the time when in flight, it is tough to photograph with a nice eye contact.
 
I had the good fortune of catching this individual in mid-bank, with the sun behind me, on New Year's Day way back in 2008. I got the much coveted eye-contact, and captured a lot of detail in the underparts. The 1D MII's 8 fps allowed me to shoot a long burst (all frames in good focus), and then  to choose which frame has the most photogenic wing position.
 
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Eastern Marsh-Harrier (Circus spilonotus, migrant, sub-adult male)

Habitat - Uncommon, primarily in wetlands and grasslands.
 
Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, January 1, 2008, Canon 1D MII + EF 500 f4 IS + EF 1.4x TC II,
700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/3421 support, major crop.
 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The rare Siberian Stonechat

Taken at the sprawling Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines over six years ago, this is among the rare local photographs of a species newly added to the Philippine bird list. This bird was not included yet in the Kennedy Guide which was published in the year 2000.
 
Thanks to Prof. Gerry de Villa of UP-Diliman for discovering the individual bird and sharing its location. His digiscoped photos of the bird are the first I've seen from the Philippines. 
 
There is renewed interest lately about this bird among bird experts because of the recent split of the species into two different ones. This photo could shed light on which form was seen in our islands.
 
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Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus, migrant)
 
Habitat - Grasslands and ricefields. 
 

Shooting info - UP-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, November 20, 2007, Canon 40D + EF 500 f4 L IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 400, 1/320 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop.

 



 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pond-Heron in flight at San Juan, La Union

I visited the swampy field near San Juan town proper (La Union) this weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a Pond-Heron in the area.
 
It's virtually impossible to differentiate from afar a Chinese Pond-Heron from a Javan Pond-Heron when in non-breeding plumage. Whatever it is, this could just be the first record of a Pond-Heron species in my home province.
 
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Pond-Heron, either Chinese or Javan (Ardeola bacchus or speciosa)

Habitat - Ricefields and marshes, rare in the Philippines. 


Shooting info - San Juan, La Union, Philippines, January 26, 2014, Canon 7D + EF 400 2.8 IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 560 mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop.
 
 
Shooting info - San Juan, La Union, Philippines, January 26, 2014, Canon 7D + EF 400 2.8 IS + EF 1.4x TC II, 560 mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support, major crop.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Red Turtle-Dove in flight

Whoever included the word "turtle" in this bird's name must not be describing its speed in flight, as it can whiz by like a lightning bolt from nowhere. I got lucky to catch this incoming one in Candaba under good light, thanks to the amazing AF capability of the 1D MIV plus the venerable 500 f4 IS.
 
This species ranges in a wide area in Asia, where it is usually found in open areas in the lowland. It has a total length of about 9 inches.
 
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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 
 
Shooting info - Candaba wetlands, December 29, 2013, 1D MIV + 500 f4 IS + Canon 1.4x TC II, 700 mm, f/7.1, ISO 640, 1/2000 sec, manual exposure in available light, 475B/516 support.
 

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