Posts Tagged ‘bird photography’

Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 90mm
ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/5000 sec.

Originally released in August of 2010 the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens has to be one the most versatile lenses available. Often you can find this lens in the used gear department for approximately $700 CDN. Like most folks, before I purchased this lens for my own gear bag I read several on-line reviews. I did not believe that the lens could really be as bad as folks were leading on. Here is a selection of some items that I noted during my internet readings:

  • softness in the center, sharpening up out towards the corners, and the some more corner softness
  • stopped-down results are downright blurry at the telephoto end of 300mm @ ƒ/36)
  • the 28-300 isn’t a really sharp lens and the corners are mush
  • zoom range exhibited shockingly poor off-axis image quality
  • is not a pro level lens nor one I’d use for critical shoots
  • I’m assuming this lens was defective as I couldn’t get a sharp picture no matter how hard I tried

I determined that in order to find out for myself I would need to add this lens to my gear bag. Right before I boarded the plane for my Cayman Brac Photo Tour in February I did just that. It is now one of my most favorite lenses. The lens does have one annoying habit, or at least my copy does. When the lens is pointed downward the zoom creep is very evident. Nonetheless, my honest opinion is that this lens does produce stellar results when good technique and creative vision is applied. Often I can be found in-the-field with my 28-300mm lens attached to one of my Nikons ready to capture those fleeting moments where changing lenses is not an option. The 28-300mm range is perfect for such circumstances.

I have never been one to trust the so-called internet experts. I much prefer to take gear out into the field and put it to the test. A real world review illustrating the quality of the lens with photographic examples.

Having the ability to zoom from 28mm to 300mm is a definite plus. On Cayman Brac I was able to photograph nesting Brown Boobies at close range and then quickly zoom out to 300mm to capture Brown Boobies in flight as they approached the cliff edge on their return to their nests.

Brown Booby pair at the nest, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 55mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

I also find the lens to be a powerful tool for my landscape work as illustrated in the below image of a winter wheat field at sunset near my rural home in Thornton, Ontario. A Singh Ray 3-stop reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter was also used in the capture of the sunset scene below.

Winter Wheat at Sunset, Thornton, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 82mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 3 seconds.

Having a minimum focusing distance of a mere 1.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range is also a huge bonus to my frog photography. In the past I would have to switch lenses to create my signature frog-scapes and close-up portraits. With the Nikon 28-300 I can simply zoom the lens from wide to telephoto and create both scenarios in mere seconds, as illustrated in the two Bullfrog images below.

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 48mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/800 sec.


Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

While photographing Wood Ducks in Toronto, Ontario I am also able to create stunning portraits and close-up feather details due to the short, minimum focusing distance. While I was photographing feather details of a Wood Duck hen that had chose to sit beside me on a particular outing I had noticed that a lovely drake Wood Duck had also come into close proximity allowing me to zoom out and create a tight head shot of him. The versatility of the Nikon 28-300mm lens allowed me the opportunity to create both these images without the need to switch lenses , which would likely had caused one of the two birds, or both, to move further away.

Drake Wood Duck, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 2000, f5.6 @ 1/250 sec.


Hen Wood Duck Feather Details, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/80 sec.

While walking along the shoreline of the Caribbean Ocean in Cayman Brac I came upon a dead crab. The shell of the dea crab was beautifully colored with interesting details too. To create the below macro shot of the crab shell details I used my Canon 500D Close-up Filter on the Nikon 28-300mm lens and stopped down to f22. There is some minor softness in the extreme corners of the image but this is due to the curvature of the shell. Ideally I should have used the focus stacking method to gain perfect sharpness in the corners.

Crab Shell Details, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/40 sec.

For those of us longing for some cooler temperatures in this heat wave, I have included a winter river detail image from my Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop this past January 🙂

Winter River Details, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.6 sec.


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Wood Duck Drake, Toronto, Ontario

On Tuesday, April 24th I conducted a private in-the-field Wood Duck workshop. We had bright over-cast light throughout much of the day, which in my opinion is great light for photographing this waterfowl species. At a couple of areas around the pond the early spring growth on the willow trees lining the shoreline was reflecting on the water with lovely yellowish tones, partially reminiscent of reflected autumn colours. We started the day early to take advantage of calm conditions on the water’s surface in hope of catching some nice reflections of the ducks as they swam through the calm water. We were rewarded nicely.

Being able to photograph tame Wood Ducks is a real treat as there is ample opportunity to capture tight portraits, wing-flaps, swimming imagery and feather details too. To book your very own, 4 hour, private in-the-field workshop please contact me by clicking here. Pricing information for a private in-the-field workshop can be found by clicking here. Let my expertise get you on location, ready to capture breath taking imagery of our beautiful waterfowl species. Learn how to achieve the correct exposure every time, elements of composition, head angle, light angle, anticipating the action, and so much more. Full day (8 hour) private workshops can also be arranged for those wishing to extend their in-the-field education (lunch will be provided)…please inquire.


Wood Duck Drake, Toronto, Ontario


Wood Duck Drake, Toronto, Ontario


Wood Duck Hen Wing-Flap, Toronto, Ontario


Wood Duck Hen Feather Details


Wood Duck Drake, Toronto, Ontario

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On Saturday April 7th I will be offering a short notice Waterfowl of Humber Bay photographic workshop. This event is being designated as A Teaching Moment Photographic Workshop. This is a perfect time to view and photograph migrating waterfowl along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Humber Bay has long been one of my preferred destinations for photographing waterfowl. During this Teaching Moment Photographic Workshop you will receive friendly, in-the-field instruction and guidance. You will also learn proper field technique for both handheld and tripod mounted lenses, crafting the composition, photographing the action, and tons more. I highly recommend using a lens with a minimum focal length of 400mm to get the most out of this workshop. I typically take a Nikon 28-300mm lens on a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 200-500mm lens on a Nikon D500 when I am photographing at Humber Bay. Often the more common species of waterfowl can be encouraged to come in to close proximity to us, but other species do tend to stay a little further out from shore. We will meet at Humber Bay Park at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday April 7th and conclude the workshop at 12:00 p.m. The cost of Waterfowl of Humber Bay – A Teaching Moment Photographic Workshop is $65. To register and arrange payment for this event please contact me by clicking here for further information. The maximum number of participants for this workshop is 8.

Do remember that attending A Teaching Moment Photographic Workshop allows you to earn rewards – after attending 5 of these events you will receive a $50 discount on any future workshop of your choice! Please note that attendance at any of my currently scheduled workshops will also earn you an automatic $50 discount on my Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat.

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Gadwall Drake Wing Flap, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec

I have been spending some of time over the last week traveling between the cities of Barrie and Toronto, Ontario to photograph migrating waterfowl. Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe in Barrie had a mix of Common Loons and Pacific Loons in full winter plumage, while Humber Bay on Lake Ontario in Toronto was productive for Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Mallards. An alternate location to Humber Bay and located nearby is High Park, it turned out be productive for Wood Ducks, which are still hanging around due to our warmer than usual start to winter. This slow start to winter has also led to some late season fall colour that adds a lovely pop of colour to some situations as it reflects in the water. Here are a few of the images I created last week during these outings.

Mallard Drake, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/60 sec


Mallard Hen quacking, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1640 sec


Common Loon (winter plumage), Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1160 sec


Pacific Loon (winter plumage), Kemenfelt Bay, Barrie, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 1/250 sec


Northern Shoveler Drake, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 1/2500 sec


Northern Shoveler Hen, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @1/500 sec


Wood Duck Drake, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/500 sec


Wood Duck Drake Wing Flap, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500. Nikon 200-500mm VR lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1000 sec


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Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/2000 sec

I spent much of last week on Horseshoe Lake enjoying the last week of my daughter’s summer break from school. We were treated on more than one occasion to the resident Common Loons bringing their late season chick into our bay to feed. Each time they arrived I paddled out into the bay in my canoe with my Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm VR lens to create some fresh, handheld, imagery. I much prefer using a canoe over a motor boat for photographing loons as it allows for a peaceful approach that does not cause any distress to the birds.

This year the loons have what appears to be a late season chick that has only recently began to molt. Why late season? We had a very cool spring and early summer and Horseshoe Lake has experienced extremely high water levels all summer with the lake level sitting at roughly two feet higher than normal – the highest I have ever witnessed in 35 years on the lake. This high water level negatively impacted nesting sites on the lake. I have never before seen an adult Common Loon coming into winter plumage with a chick of this size, at this time of year.

Here are a few newly processed images from my time with the Common Loons last week. My favorite is the tender moment shared between adult and chick. It was fun watching the chick diving and swimming while following the parent underwater. Each time the chick surfaced a wing flap would occur. The adult was having great success catching crawfish for the chick to eat. If the parent surfaced without any food the chick would bite the adults neck gently – perhaps to say “I am hungry, you need to do better than that”

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger versions.

Common Loon with chick, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/800 sec


Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 240mm (35mm equivalent = 360mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec


Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec


Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/1250 sec


Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Join me on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac from February 7 to February 12, 2018 for our first-ever, land-based photo tour of this rugged tropical paradise, at a special introductory price.

Our home base for this photo tour will be at the Carib Sands Condominiums.


Carib Sands Condominiums, Cayman Brac


During my previous trip to Cayman Brac in 2017 many memorable bird images were captured right on the beach at Carib Sands.

Participants are expected to have a good understanding of their camera system and should be prepared for walking distances at some locations of 1-2 kilometres. Some of the terrain we will be walking over is uneven due to Cayman Brac’s iron shore.

The main objective of this photo tour will be to photograph epic sunrise and sunset scenes looking out over the Caribbean Sea, rugged ocean scenics at the base of the 140 foot bluff, The Bat Cave, Brown Booby, Cayman Brac Parrot, Herons, Egrets, and many more. Depending on local knowledge of accessible roosting Barn Owls we may have the opportunity to explore a cave to photograph these as well. We will also include two night sessions (dates to be selected depending on current weather conditions at the time) to photograph starry nightscapes and to seek nocturnal wildlife such as Cuban Tree Frogs and Hurricane Crabs.

During the mid-day hours when conditions are not particularly suitable for land based photography participants can explore the island on their own, grab some rest and relaxation, or accompany me on snorkeling excursions at the numerous shore diving sites. These snorkel excursions are a great way to try your hand at underwater photography. I can provide advice on how best to get your gear into the water for those that are interested.


Please note that the fee for Cayman Brac 2018 is broken down into two segments. One part is the condominium rental and second is for the photo tour. Please select the condominium rental that will work best for you and your travel companion, if applicable.

Please note that the fees for this photo tour are in US dollars.


Condominium Rental:

  • One bedroom condominium (ideal for one participant /one couple) = US$1,555 (Ocean View Condo = $1,830)
  • Two bedroom condominium (ideal for two participants / two couples) = US$2,010 (Ocean View Condo = $2,140)

Photo Tour Rate

  • US$1695.00
  • Non-participating spouses are welcome for additional US$350 (non-participating spouses are welcome to join the photo sessions if space permits)


February 7:

6:00 p.m. meet and greet at the Carib Sands Pool

February 8 to 12:

6:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. morning session for sunrise and bird life (various locations depending on weather conditions)

4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. evening session for sunset and bird life (various locations depending on weather conditions)

February 12

Farewell Beach BBQ at 7:00 p.m.


What’s Included:

  • In-the-field photographic instruction during each session
  • Transportation for photo tour participants during excursions
  • Image review sessions
  • Beach BBQ on the last day of the photo tour
  • Complimentary snorkel excursions for those interested
  • Free WiFi at Condominium


What’s Not Included:

  • Flights to and from Grand Cayman
  • Island hopper flights to and from Cayman Brac
  • Meals
  • Drinks
  • Transportation outside of the photo tour excursions (folks attending daily snorkel excursions will be provided transportation)
  • Masks, Fins, and Snorkels

Cayman Brac 2018 is open to a maximum of 6 participants. To reserve your spot a non-refundable retainer of US$1200.00 is due now to secure the condominium rental and a spot in the photo tour. At the time of booking a signed waiver form will be required. These will be emailed to interested participants so that they can return the signed forms with their cheque made payable to: Andrew McLachlan. The second instalment of US$1200.00 will be due by no later than September 1, 2017 with the final balance owing no later than December 1, 2017. Please contact me via email by clicking here to reserve your spot today.

To view a slide show presentation of imagery that was created during my trip to Cayman Brac in February of 2017 please clicl on the below photo.


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Recently I created a slideshow presentation of my February trip to the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac using Adobe Spark and shared it on my social media sites. I wanted to share this project with those that follow along here at the blog as well. To view the slideshow simply click on the above picture and scroll down through the project.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement in the next week or so about an exclusive opportunity to join me in Febraury 2018 for a guided tour of these stunning vistas on Cayman Brac. Folks that are interested in this photo tour can send a quick email here to have their email address added to my workshop email list to avoid missing out on this incredible opportunity.

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