Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moose Time!

Maine Bull Moose Overlooking a pond
canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 @f4 1/2000 ISO 640

I traveled to the Maine North woods this past week to spend a few days looking for moose. Saturday evening found me along a good spot near Millinockett Maine watching to see if moose would enter the pond to feed before dark. I spotted one cow across the pond and got some distant shots.  I met up with a friend from Vermont later in Millinockett and we decided to walk to one of our favorite spots the next morning before we departed for out trip farther north.  We had clear skies and nice golden light and the very nice bull pictured above came through apparently on his scrape trail and we were able to get some photos in the golden light. The next image is an example of how one moment we can have beautiful light and a few moments later, we have shadows and highlights. The bull apparently had recently lost his eye in a fight. 

Canon 1D MK IV; 600 f4 @f6.3 1/200 ISO 1000

Later in the day we traveled with three other friends over log roads to a cabin at a remote lake in the North Maine Woods.  The setting was absolutely beautiful. Most of our moose looking was going to be done by kayak with some walking logging lanes mixed in.  The weather was beautiful with clear blue skies scattered with puffy white clouds.

Canon 7D; Canon 24-105 f4 @24mm f13 1/400 ISO 320

Paddling the stream and lake was a joy. Bitterns, ring neck ducks, pie billed grebes, white throated sparrows, yellow throated warblers, bald eagles, ospreys Northern harriers, broad wing hawks and Common Loons entertained us through the week.

Canon 7D; Canon 24-105 f4 @24mm f11 1/400 ISO400
The water was high due to the recent storms and that  most likely effected the moose activity along the water.  We did however hear bulls and cows grunting and wailing in the woods and we had moose tracks right past the cabin.  We did spot a few moose.  It was good practice for shooting from a kayak.
Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 300 f2.8 @f10 1/250 ISO400 -.33 EC

Canon 7D; Canon 24-105 f4 @58mm f10 1/320 ISO400 -.33EC

Since I had the longest distance to travel home (15 hours), I left early Thursday morning.  On the way down the log road I came upon a small bull in the mist.  I stopped, got out of jeep and photographed him for about an hour.  I practiced my bull grunts and cow wails with him and we had fun. 

Here are a few shots of him:
Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 300 f2.8 f2.8 @f2.8 1/125 ISO 2000

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 300 f2.8 @f4 1/125 ISO2000

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 24-105 f4 @105mm f4 1/50 ISO800

One of the benefits of shooting with the Canon 1D MK IV is that it allows us to push the ISO and still get great quality pictures.

Until next Time

Jim Borden

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wildlife Photography and Light!

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 @f4 1/1600 ISO3200

I have touched on the need for fast lenses and high ISO in my posts before-this time I am going to elaborate a little on the topic and share experiences with the noise performance of various bodies.  The above photos was taken on a very cloudy, rainy, dark day.  Turkeys are normally out in weather such as that and they are almost always on the move.  Their heads are continuously bobbing up and down.  So fast shutter speeds are needed to get crisp shots. In film camera days one would have to wait for a well lighted day and hide and call and wait for them to get close and then time the shots for a still shot.  Digital technology has helped us immensely with the ability to take shots in poorer light conditions. However, even though many camera bodies boast about ability to run ISO to 3200 or 6400, they have lots of digital noise which ruins color saturation and edge detail.  I have found that camera bodies with full frame sensors and less megapixels to out perform heavily cropped sensors with lots of megapixels.  For Instance, the Nikon D3s is probably without argument the best perfomring Camera body on teh market for lack of digital noise.  It has a full frame sensor with only 12 megapixels-but the pixels are large and thereby can be pushed to higher ISO rating without noise.  We hav etaken photos at ISO 6400 that have required no post processing for noise control. One of the worse performers in recent past is the Canon 7D with 18 megapixels on a 1.6 crop sensor.  It handles ISO up through 500 to 640 okay as long as the histogram is kept to the right.  Even then post processing is required.  Does this mean the Canon 7D is not a good body?  Absolutely not-It takes very good images at the lower ISO ratings and it can be used at ISO 640 or so with post processing.  here is an image my daughter Andrea took with my 7D and Canon 300 f2.8 lens at ISO 640.

Canon 7D; Canon 300 f2.8 @f5 1/200 ISO640
She timed the shot so that she did the capture as the bear raised its head and stopped to look. 

For comparison, here is an image of the same bear taken with the Canon 1D MK IV at 1600 ISO.   Looking closely at the green ferns in the background, one can see the noise performance difference of the two camera bodies.
Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 @F7.1 1/500s ISO1600

Here is a shot with the Canon 1D MK IV at dark one evening this week.  It is also taken at ISO 3200 as the turkey shot was taken-however, the shutter speed was 1/25.  It is an ok image and as one can see, the sharpness and "pop" is less and that is most likely due to the very slow shutter speed on a large lens (600mm).  In my film days this would have been a blurry picture!!!  The image has good color and contrast, but detail is missing in the hair and eyes.

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 @f6.3 1/25 ISO3200

From my experience with camera bodies, here is a list of best to worse performing on noise:
Nikon D3s; Canon 1D MK IV; Nikon D700, Nikon D300/D300s;  Canon 7D/Nikon D80

Until next time

Jim Borden