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Posts Tagged ‘nature photography’

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod in the expandable side pocket.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod in the expandable side pocket.

With the multitude of camera bags available on the market today it can often be a difficult choice deciding on that one bag to meet the varied needs that each photo excursion. I have used many backpacks, holster bags, belt & pouch systems, and small travel backpacks. Let’s consider the pros and cons of each of these bags:

  • Large backpacks have the ability to allow the photographer to carry a vast amount of gear into the field at the expense of lugging around a ton of weight, making them impractical for long wilderness hikes (I once lugged my large backpack through the Pukaskwa wilderness for 4 solid hours and paid the price for it too).
  • Holster-style bags usually allow us to carry a camera body with a 70-200mm or 80-400mm lens attached as well as a couple of additional lenses in small side pouches. While this type of bag addresses the excessive weight issue of a large backpack, making it a joy to take on long hikes it is often lacking in that extra space one wished they had for a few additional items.
  • Belt & Pouch systems allow for a more practical way to take along lots of gear whereby the weight can be evenly distributed about the photographer’s waist and torso via a belt and vest configuration, however, this system is not very user friendly during the winter months and in the heat of the summer can be rather uncomfortable and hot to wear.
  • Smaller backpacks designed specifically for travel are often the perfect weight for an all day hike. These packs are typically designed to have a compartment for camera gear and a compartment for personal gear that may be required for the hike. These two compartments are generally separated by a divider that is permanently stitched into the pack.

Several weeks ago Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for the Manfrotto line of products asked me if I would be interested in trying out the new Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack. I have since used this pack to carry my gear through the wilds of Algonquin Provincial Park, the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail, numerous canoeing day-trips, and my day-to-day photographic needs. It has been a joy to carry around my gear in this light-weight bag.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod securely fastened in the tie-down straps.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod securely fastened in the tie-down straps.

Let’s take a look at some of the unique features that the Manfrotto Advance Travel Backpack has to offer:

  • expandable padded side pocket to accommodate small travel sized tripods
  • straps on the back to fasten a tripod to the outside of the pack…these straps could be used to tie-down a variety of things such as a light jacket
  • a dedicated compartment for a 13 inch laptop
  • upper compartment for personal belongings
  • lower compartment for camera gear configured for quick access to the camera
  • a removable, zippered divider separates the upper and lower compartments
  • protective rain cover included
  • comfortable, well padded harness system with a sternum strap for added comfort and a waist strap too (I do wish the waist strap was a little wider and of a padded design, but this is a personal preference)
  • numerous zippered pockets for storing smaller items

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack A view of the well padded harness system and sternum strap

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
A view of the well padded harness system and sternum strap

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Included rain cover in place and ready for inclement weather

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Included rain cover in place and ready for inclement weather

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Quick side access opened

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Quick side access opened

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Side access fully opened - note I opted to use the upper compartment for additional camera accecories rather than personal belongings.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Side access fully opened – note I opted to use the upper compartment for additional camera accessories rather than personal belongings.

In the below photo (please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version) you will see the assortment of gear that I am able to pack into the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack and comfortably carry into the field for an all day hike.

Here’s what’s in the bag:

  • Gepe waterproof case for my Compact Flash and SD cards
  • Double-bubble Level
  • Micro Fibre Cleaning Cloth
  • Two spare batteries for the camera
  • Allen key wrench for quick release plates that may require re-tightening
  • Small Mini-Mag flashlight
  • Small reflector that is often used to provide shade for such things as flowers or insects
  • Cokin “P” sized filter holder
  • Nikon Polarizing Filter
  • B&W 10-stop ND filter
  • Filter stack containing a Canon 500D Close-up Filter, Tiffen 3-stop ND Filter and a spare Tiffen polarizing filter
  • Cable Release
  • Singh-Ray 2-stop Soft Edge Graduated ND Filter
  • Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter
  • Nikon D800 with attached Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens
  • Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens
  • Nikon 18-35mm Lens
  • Nikon 24-85mm Lens
  • Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
  • Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens Hood
  • 13″ Laptop (when needed – I do not generally carry a laptop for day-tripping)
Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack My assortment of gear that easily fits into the pack

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
My assortment of gear that easily fits into the pack

Now that’s a ton of stuff and it all easily fits into this well designed and well built travel pack. Being able to easily pack, access, and carry my gear on long hikes through the wilderness, or on short day-trips, or during simple day-to-day activities means I am always at the ready. I often head out to photograph during periods of inclement weather and knowing that I can easily protect my gear with the supplied rain cover, provides the peace of mind knowing my gear is safely stowed away until conditions improve. Being able to easily store a small travel sized tripod in the expandable side pocket eliminates the need to carry the tripod around by hand or via a shoulder strap. The ability to conveniently store and access an assortment of photographic gear only enhances the photographic experience. There is nothing more frustrating than having to fumble around with bulky gear bags to get to your equipment when those fleeting moments in nature go whizzing past. The Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack has quickly become my new favorite gear bag for all of my photographic adventures.

I can’t wait to take it on a Caribbean holiday :)

 

 

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The Milky Way Over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 30 seconds

The Milky Way Over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 30 seconds

I have just returned from another week up on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. During the past seven days I spent a lot of time exploring the night sky. Photographing the starry night sky is quite addictive and each night, roughly two hours after sunset I would head down to the dock and create images of the Milky Way above the lake. Fortunately, the Milky Way can easily be seen from the dock, however, there is some noticeable light pollution from the town of Parry Sound, visible on the right side of the images. In the above photo I was quite surprised by the subtle green and pink hues present when I viewed the images on the computer the next morning. I did not see any of these colors in the sky as I created the images. In addition, I was also quite surprised at how each of the night scenes photographed considering that each was created at roughly the same time each night. Isn’t nature amazing :)

Here are a couple of additional photos of the starry sky above Horseshoe Lake. In an upcoming post I will cover the learning curve to creating and the special processing techniques to these addictive images. I found on my Nikon D800 that I was getting the best pin-point stars at 20 second exposures. In the opening image the 30 second exposure the stars are not all quite pin-points, some have tiny trails starting.

Please remember to click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper versions.

 

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm ISO 6400, f3.8 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm
ISO 6400, f3.8 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 20 seconds

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Pre-Dawn Light on Lake Travers in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 8 seconds Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Pre-Dawn Light on Lake Travers in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 8 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Towards the end of last week I spent several days up on the shore of Lake Travers in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. The first morning of my stay in the area provided the best conditions for daybreak imagery. The nights turned rather cool after this day and subsequently the heavy mist rising from the lake made visibility very poor, until the sun had rose high enough in the sky to burn off the misty conditions. The above scene was created at approximately 5:30 a.m. on the first morning. No less than half an hour later the sun still hidden by the horizon began to light the clouds hovering above the lake – as seen below.

Sunrise on Lake ravers in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 19mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1.3 seconds Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Sunrise on Lake Travers in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 19mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.3 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

After the sun had risen and the colors faded from the sky I jumped into the canoe and paddled out across the lake. After about an hour paddling about the perimeter of Lake Travers I turned to look over my shoulder (photographer’s must remember to do this – sometimes what is behind you is more interesting than the scene before you) and was more than impressed by the cloud formations. Using my Nikon 18-35mm lens with a Nikon Polarizing filter attached I composed the scene and created several varying handheld compositions. Each and every time that I create a handheld image, before clicking the shutter, I take a breath and hold it as this will often eliminate the risk of breathing from causing movement that may contribute to un-sharp images.

Cloud Formations Above Lake Travers in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/25 second Nikon Polarizing Filter Hand-Held Capture

Cloud Formations on Lake Travers in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/25 second
Nikon Polarizing Filter
Hand-Held Capture

On my very last night in the park the skies were so unbelievably clear I could not resist the temptation to experiment with photographing the starry night sky. I think night photography will become a bit of an addiction :) I can’t wait to give it another go!

The Milky Way Above the Algonquin Wilderness Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 6400, f4.5 @ 30 seconds

The Milky Way Above the Algonquin Wilderness
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 6400, f4.5 @ 30 seconds

Please do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

I am on the road photographing again next week, but promise to return with lots of images to share and tips too :)

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Common Loon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec Handheld capture from canoe on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Common Loon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec
Handheld capture with OS function turned on from canoe on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

During the week of July 19th, Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses, kindly loaned me the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom  for review. The first thing I noticed about this lens upon arrival was the impressive, professional build quality; all metal construction, sturdy metal lens hood, silky smooth rotating tripod collar with click stops, and a beautifully smooth zooming action. This lens weighs in at 6.3 lbs, roughly 5 lbs lighter than a Nikon 600mm prime lens – a light-weight when compared to a hefty prime lens and at a fraction of the purchase price too. Another noteworthy point is that this lens’ minimum focusing distance is a mere 8.5 feet compared to Nikon’s 600mm prime lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 15.7 feet. This will allow this lens to very functional in creating imagery of smaller subjects such as Chipmunks, Chickadees, and Frogs. When reviewing lenses I do not pay attention to lens charts and such or other on-line reviews of the product. I prefer to take the lens out into the real world and judge its performance capabilities based on my preferred locations, subjects, and shooting style.

Beaver eating lily pad leaves Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/160 sec. Handheld from the canoe with OS turned on and the 1.5 DX sensor crop activated for an effective focal length of 900mm

Beaver eating lily pad leaves
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/160 sec.
Handheld from the canoe with OS turned on and the 1.5 DX sensor crop activated for an effective focal length of 900mm

When designing this new Global Vision lens Sigma clearly had professional use in mind. The lens is weather sealed to protect it from dusty environments and it is splash proof as well. In addition, the front and rear elements of the lens have been treated with a new oil and water repellent coating. This lens is sure to withstand the demands of the professional photographer.

Great Blue Heron on fallen tree Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 370mm ISO 1600, f6.3 @ 1/320 sec Tripod mounted from canoe with OS turned on and loosened ballhead for additional support. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was activated for an effective focal length of 555mm

Great Blue Heron on fallen tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 370mm
ISO 1600, f6.3 @ 1/320 sec
Tripod mounted from canoe with OS turned on and loosened ballhead for additional support. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was activated for an effective focal length of 555mm

Another noteworthy point; the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is compatible with the optional Sigma USB Dock and Sigma software allowing the user to apply custom settings and autofocus calibration settings. I did not use the Sigma USB Dock to set any custom settings prior to conducting this review.

Common Loon Nikon D800, SIgma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec Handheld from canoe with OS turned on. This loon was photographed at the minimum focusing distance of the SIgma lens which is 8.5 feet.

Common Loon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
Handheld from canoe with OS turned on. This loon was photographed at the minimum focusing distance of the Sigma lens which is 8.5 feet.

In the photos below you can see the zoom lock switch conveniently located just behind the zoom ring which locks the lens at 150mm and all other controls are nicely arranged vertically on the side of the lens barrel. First is the Focus switch, followed by the AF distance limiter switch, Optical Stabilizer switch, and lastly the Custom settings switch. For the purposes of my review I used the autofocus position, the AF distance limiter switch in Full, Optical Stabilizer in Position 1 (for static subjects – Position 2 is for panning action), and the Custom switch OFF as I did not program any custom settings. Each of the photographers accompanying this review were either handheld or tripod mounted. This will be noted in the image captions for each photo.

The Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens barrel showing the layout of the controls on the left side of the lens

The Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens barrel showing the layout of the controls on the left side of the lens

The vertical arrangement of the Focus, AF Limiter, OS, and Custom switches

The vertical arrangement of the Focus, AF Limiter, OS, and Custom switches

IN THE FIELD PERFORMANCE & IMAGE QUALITY
To review the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom was mounted on my Nikon D800. I was excited to try this combination due to the selectable sensor crop features of the Nikon D800. As a result I would often switch between the FX (full frame) sensor and the DX 1.5 crop sensor. The latter is like having a built-in teleconverter at your disposal, ready and waiting. When using this lens with the DX 1.5 sensor crop activated the lens has a 35mm equivalency of 225mm to 900mm (folks using DSLRs with APS-C size sensors will particularly enjoy this long reach). This extended reach proved to be most beneficial in capturing flighty subjects such as Great Blue Herons, Beavers, and for close-ups of Bullfrogs too. At the lens’ minimum focusing distance of 8.5 feet and an effective 35mm focal length of 900mm this lens was quite deadly for Bullfrogs :) Be sure to read the captions for each of the images below as I have indicated which sensor crop was selected to create each image.

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec Handheld from canoe in overcast light

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld from canoe in overcast light with OS function turned on

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec. DX 1.5 sensor crop selected for an effective focal length of 900mm. A lifejacket over the side of the canoe provided the needed support while handholding this capture

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec.
DX 1.5 sensor crop selected for an effective focal length of 900mm. A lifejacket over the side of the canoe provided the needed cushioning and support while handholding this capture with the OS function turned on

To zoom the lens in and out the zoom ring is turned in the same direction as Canon zoom lenses – the opposite direction to Nikon zooms. This took some getting used to on my part but by the end of the week the correct zooming direction had become second nature. My chosen location to put this lens through its paces was the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario, in the Muskoka District and a short excursion down the Seguin Trail in Parry Sound. I used the lens both handheld and tripod mounted with the latter mode utilizing a loosened ballhead for additional support with the Optical Stabilizer (position1) activated. Once again do note the captions for each image for greater description on capture information.

Great Blue Heron in Spruce Tree Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 1250, f6.3 @ 1/200 sec I found this heron roosting in the spruce tree late in the day. Dialing in an ISO of 1250 and using a wide open aperture of f6.3 and the tripod with a loosened ballhead for additional support and the OS function on the lens yielded excellent sharpness for this image

Great Blue Heron in Spruce Tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 550mm
ISO 1250, f6.3 @ 1/200 sec
I found this heron roosting in the spruce tree late in the day. Dialing in an ISO of 1250 and using a wide open aperture of f6.3 and the tripod with a loosened ballhead for additional support and the OS function on the lens yielded excellent sharpness for this image. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was selected for an effective focal length of 825mm

NOT JUST FOR WILDLIFE
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is not just a lens for wildlife it is also a serious performer for landscapes too. I often utilize longer focal lengths to extract intimate scenes from the grand vistas before me. When doing so the lens was tripod mounted with the Optical Stabilizer turned off and the ballhead controls firmly locked. The mirror lock feature on the Nikon D800 was also utilized to eliminate any vibrations resulting from mirror-slap from degrading image sharpness. For landscape use I would highly recommend the use of a polarizing filter – this lens would require a 105mm filter size.

Intimiate view of Horseshoe Lake shoreline details Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec Handheld from canoe

Intimiate view of Horseshoe Lake shoreline details
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld from canoe with OS function turned on

Nameless Lake on the Seguin Trail near Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm ISO 100, f16 @ 13 sec Tripod mounted with OS function turned off.

Nameless Lake on the Seguin Trail near Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 13 sec
Tripod mounted with OS function turned off. I do like the way the 13 second exposure rendered the falling rain drops in the water

Wetland, Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 200mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/20 sec Tripod mounted with the OS function turned off

Wetland, Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 200mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/20 sec
Tripod mounted with the OS function turned off

BACK AT THE COMPUTER
After a week-long shooting spree with the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom I arrived home to upload several thousand images to the computer. As I began editing and optimizing these image files I did note that aside from chromatic aberration being very well controlled, the resulting image quality surpassed my expectations with excellent fine details present. Any images that were not sharp was the result of me pushing the Optical Stabilization passed its limits. It is important to push new gear to its limits to know what you can accomplish in the field. Know your gear and know its limits.

Juvenile Raccoon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec Handheld in a crouched position using knee for additional support

Juvenile Raccoon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld in a crouched position using left knee for additional support with the OS function turned on

Juvenile Raccon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm  ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec Although the lens was set to 600mm I had activated the 1.5 DX sensor crop on the Nikon D800 for an effective focal length of 900mm

Juvenile Raccon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec
Although the lens was set to 600mm I had activated the 1.5 DX sensor crop on the Nikon D800 for an effective focal length of 900mm. Again this photo was created handheld in a crouched position using my left knee for additional support with the OS function turned on. Cropping the sensor, in camera, was the best approach to prevent any undue stress on this young raccoon due to a closer approach

CONCLUSION

If you are ready for the extended reach of a 600mm lens the http://www.sigmacanada.ca/product/sigma-sport-150-600mm-f5-6-3-dg-os-hsm-lens–sos1506dgs/ is highly recommended – professional quality images, in a weather sealed design, at an affordable price. The 150mm to 600mm zoom range is very versatile, allowing for tight portraits as well as scenes that take in the surrounding environment too, without the need to change lenses. This saves time that in-turn may yield more results when the action heats up. The light weight design yet solid build makes this lens a joy to handhold when photographing birds in flight or when working from a canoe, as I did, which is something folks that already own heavy weight prime lenses may be interested in if they are looking for a lighter alternative. The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is my new favorite lens and be my go to lens for all of my long lens work. The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom surpassed my expectations!!!

Please do remember to click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper version :)

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Bullfrog Among Lily Pads on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800 (with 1.5 sensor crop activated), Sigma EX DG f2.8 15mm Fisheye Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/60 sec

Bullfrog Among Lily Pads on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800 (with 1.5 sensor crop activated), Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/60 sec

Without a doubt my most often go-to lens for Bullfrog in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake is my Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, and more often than not I select the Nikon D800’s 1.5 sensor crop when creating these images. By selecting the 1.5 sensor crop I am effectively using a 22mm fisheye lens with a close focusing distance of 5.5 inches. The close focusing capabilities of the Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens are hard to beat when it comes to creating these Bullfrog portraits. To view a larger selection of my fisheye imagery on the Sigma Canada website please click here.

Please remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper version.

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Horseshoe Lake at Sunset, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 19mm ISO50, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

Horseshoe Lake at Sunset, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 19mm
ISO50, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

I have just returned from a week long stay at the cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario and can’t wait to head back up for another week-long stay in a few days. It was a very productive week for wildlife imagery that I will share with you in an upcoming post. On the evening of Saturday July 18th there was a splendid sunset. The lay of the land at the cottage does not usually allow for too many sunset opportunities unless there is a spectacular display. I quickly grabbed my Nikon 18-35mm lens and ran down to the dock when I saw the colors developing in the sky, but the downside was too much wave action from passing motor boats ruining the foreground water. The solution? Create two images. After composing the scene I created one exposure for the sky and then one with a long exposure for the water. This long exposure would “smooth” the surface of the lake hiding the wave action of the passing boats. I then loaded both images into Adobe Camera Raw and made some initial tweaks before opening both images into Photoshop. I am using Photoshop CS6 for my processing of image files so I simply selected the sky image and using the Move Tool moved that image onto the image with the smooth water. I now had each image on its own layer. Next I selected the Eraser Tool and erased the wavy water from the sky image to reveal the smooth water of the second image with the longer exposure.

A simple but effective technique to utilize technology and over-come a challenging situation. If I had waited for the waves to die down the colors in the sky would have been gone.

Please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens
Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter
Handheld at ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

A couple of weeks ago while I was in search of Bullfrogs in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario I came upon a very cooperative Common Snapping Turtle basking in the sun on a partially water-logged white pine tree trunk. Several years ago this large white pine trunk became stuck near the entrance to the wetland, but this past winter / spring it has moved deeper into the wetland to a location that is sure to find it being used by several species of turtles and watersnakes. I am eagerly awaiting my next extended stay at the lake to try for more reptile images.

Common Snapping Turtles are usually difficult to approach as they will often retreat into the water at first sight. I made a slow and cautious approach in my canoe hoping not to disturb the turtle and every few feet I would stop to create a few images. Do note in the above photo I used my Nikon Polarizing Filter to cut the glare from the vegetation as well as the turtle’s shell. I soon came to realize that this particular turtle was being very cooperative, so I proceeded a little closer. Soon I had pulled the canoe right up alongside of the turtle and yet it remained undisturbed. I quickly switched out my Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens for my Nikon 18-35mm Lens to create an up-close and personal wide-angle view, and employed my Live View technique that has often worked well for frog-scapes. While using the Live View feature on my Nikon D800 I will lean out over the side of the canoe and hold the camera very close to the water’s surface to get a very low perspective. Using the virtual horizon in Live View will assist in keeping the resulting photos square with the world.

The only thing that kinda bugs me about these snapping turtle photos is the very large bloodsucker that can be seen on the turtle’s left cheek :)

Do remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm
Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

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