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Posts Tagged ‘Parry Sound’

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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Newly Emerging Leaves in Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens

Spring arrived very slowly to the Muskoka area this year, but nonetheless it has arrived in all it’s splendor. I am often drawn to the newly emerging leaves within the forest but on a bright sunny and cloudless day there is often too much contrast within the forest however, looking up changes the perspective to one that is quite photogenic and even allows the opportunity to incorporate the sun into the composition as I did with the above image using the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens.

My most favourite past-time in spring includes getting out into the vernal ponds to photograph the various frogs that show up in vast numbers to breed. Although the frogs have been chorusing for a number of weeks I was unable to find time in my schedule to get out into the ponds until this past weekend. I was excited to finally get out and try my new home-made flash diffuser mentioned in the This Might Just Be The Best Flash Diffuser Ever! blog post. As I expected I was more than thrilled with the performance of the flash diffuser in the field. Due to the larger size of the diffuser I did have to be cautious with my approach to the frogs and be careful that the diffuser did not bump any corresponding branches or foliage that may disturb the frogs, thus interrupting their singing. Below are a few of the images I captured over the course of the weekend exploring the vernal ponds. During these excursions I was delighted to encounter a Wood Frog at one of the ponds. It has been a great number of years since I have seen a Wood Frog in the woodlands of Muskoka.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the chorusing Spring Peeper was particularly challenging to photograph as he was singing beside a rather fresh pile of Moose scat. Positioning myself as I would normally do would have seen me laying in the scat, therefore, a different approach was much needed. To gain a low perspective and avoid the moose scat I utilized the Nikon D500’s tilting LCD screen so that I could hold the camera at ground level using LIve View to compose and capture the image.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

 

Wood Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the Green Frog among Hair-cap Moss really illustrates the usefulness of the home-made diffuser. Under normal flash conditions there would be many unpleasant shadows created by a bare flash. The polystyrene diffuser softens the light, eliminating any and all harsh shadows.

Green Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

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On Tuesday March, 27, 2018 I will be presenting my “Ontario & Beyond – Wild Places Wild Faces” program for the Ajax Photography Club at the Ajax Community Centre located at 75 Centennial Road in the HSM Room. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend for a $10 admission fee. Mark the date in your calendars and come on out for an enjoyable evening of nature photography and learn the secrets behind how I capture and optimize my my landscape and wildlife imagery.

Hope to see you there 🙂

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cayman brac, cayman islands, british west indies, caribbean

Sunrise at Pollard Bay
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to share a selection of my ten personal favorite images that I created over the last twelve months. Two highlights for 2017 were spending a couple of weeks on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, as well as one week in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Amazonian rainforest near Tarapoto, Peru. For 2018 I am offering workshops to both of these locations and cannot wait to meet-up with the folks attending the Cayman Brac Workshop in February. There is still space available for our inaugural Peru 2018, which promises to be a one-of-a-kind adventure for landscape and micro fauna photography.

sister island rock iguana, rock iguana, cayman brac, cayman islands, british west indies, cyclura nubila caymanensis

Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

brown booby, sula leucogaster, cayman brac, cayman islands, british west indies

Brown Booby chick (Sula leucogaster)
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

In September I embarked on a journey to Tarapoto, Peru as a scouting trip for the upcoming Peru 2018 – Landscapes and Micro Fauna of the Cordillera Escalera event which is scheduled for early July 2018. Our rainforest hikes were most productive with several species of dart frogs photographed, awe inspiring waterfalls, and a rare opportunity to photograph the endangered Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens). I am looking most forward to taking a group of participants into this region for an all-inclusive, once-in-a-lifetime photographic experience!

peru, cordillera escalera, sunrise, rainforest, amazon rainforest, jungle

Sunrise in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru

 

peru, dart frog, peru, cordillera escalera, ameerega trivittata, three striped poison frog

Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata), Cordillera Escalera, Peru

 

peru, cordillera, escalera, amazon rainforest, rainforest, waterfall, tununtunumba

Cataratas Tununtunumba in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru

 

peru, amazon rainforest, cochran frog, rulyrana saxiscandens, cordillera escalera

Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens)
Cordillera Escalera, Peru

 

Aside from the two main trips taken in 2017 I spent a significant amount of time exploring my own backyard here in Ontario. Several visits to the Georgian Bay shoreline yielded many lovely scenes. During the springtime months I spent my usual amount of time exploring nearby wetlands, at night, for fresh images of frogs and toads chorusing during the breeding season. On one of those evenings I located a wonderful male Spring Peeper singing in a Hemlock bough high above the pond. Throughout the summer much of my photograph efforts seemed to be concentrated at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario where I encountered a very co-operative female White-tailed Deer grazing on a nearby peat bog as I canoed through the wetland one evening.

 

sunset, pary sound, ontario, muskoka, georgian bay

Sunset on Georgian Bay near Parry Sound, Ontario

 

frog, tree frog, spring peeper, hyla crucifer, ontario, barrie, wetlands

Spring Peeper (Hyla crucifer) with vocal sac fully inflated

 

deer, white tailed deer, peat bog, wetland, parry sound, ontario, muskoka, canada

White Tailed Deer on peat bog with cotton grass.
Parry Sound, Ontario

With the new year just around the corner I am pleased to say that I have finally completed my eBook on frog photography. It is now undergoing the editing phase prior to publication. I will also be announcing several new photographic workshops in the coming months. Stay tuned for the announcements regarding those. As a side note for folks that may have missed the announcement for the Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Photographic Workshop there are a few spaces still available. The Muskoka region has seen a lot of snow this year, which is going to make these waterfalls even more inspiring. Hotel accommodations will be in short supply for this event with folks booking up rooms for their snowmobile excursions and other area events. If you are interested in attending please contact me by clicking here.

I would like thank everybody for their continued support of my blog, those that have attended my photogaphic workshops and to wish everybody a safe and prosperous 2018!

See you next year 🙂

 

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On Tuesday November 14 at 7:30 p.m. I will be presenting my Ontario & Beyond: Wild Places Wild Faces program for the Photo Arts Club of Newmarket Camera Club at the Newmarket Communtiy Centre and Lions Hall located at 200 Doug Duncan Drive in Newmarket, Ontario. Non-members are welcome to attend the presentation for an entry fee of $5 per person. The presentation features tons of Ontario related imagery and info for those looking for new places to explore within our province as well as destinations that are further afield such as Cayman Brac and the Amazon Rainforest.

Hope to see you there 🙂

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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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Juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens at 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Try as I may I have yet to find any Bullfrogs within the wetland at my cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. To date I have heard all but one male Bullfrog chorusing so far this season but locating him is another matter altogether. I believe the difficulty in finding the Bullfrogs may have something to do with the very cool and late start of the growing season as the waterlilies are well behind schedule in terms of water surface coverage and blooming. The lake level is also considerably higher this year, by as much as one foot. It is possible that the Bullfrogs are seeking refuge in the dense thickets of leatherleaf that surround the wetland edges and will emerge out into the more open areas of the wetland when the waterlilies provide more coverage.

On a recent exploration of the wetland I did however have the good fortune of locating some very co-operative turtles and water snakes. On one outing I located 12 Northern Water Snakes basking on a beaver lodge! The highlight of my excursions was finding a juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle that was small enough to be sunning on a yellow pond lily leaf. To create the opening photo I chose a low perspective by seating myself in the bottom of the canoe and carefully framed the scene to ensure I maintained the turtle’s reflection in the slice of open water between two lily pad leaves. By resting the lens on the gunwale of the canoe I was able to gain the additional support for this handheld capture. A polarizing filter is pretty much a necessity when photographing basking turtles to eliminate the unwanted glare from the vegetation and the turtle’s carapace, they are also very useful for eliminating the undesirable glare from the scales of snakes. My choice of polarizing filter for use on the Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens is the B&W 95mm F-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizing MRC Filter.

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 340mm (35mm equivalent = 540mm)
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/125 sec.
B&W Polarizing Filter

The Common Snapping Turtle above was photographed in the exact same manner as the juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle although a passing cloud thankfully provided some temporary over-cast conditions, which eliminated the harsh shadows that were being cast from upward pointing branches on the log. Whenever I locate an overly co-operative subject such as this large snapping turtle I put away my long lens after creating a few images and reach for my wide angle lenses for an unique perspective as shown below.

Snapping Turtle-scape, Horseshoe Lake Wetland, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/50 sec
Nikon Polarizing Filter

 

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-85mm lens @ 78mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec

Below are two Northern Water Snake images that were captured over the course of the last two weekends. The first water snake was discovered within the wetland complex at rest among the branches of a beaver lodge while the second was found resting on a rock beside my dock in late evening light. Each of these images makes use of killer features found on the Nikon D500. In the first image I could not get in as close I was wanted to due to the branches extending out into the water. The work around was to select the Nikon D500’s 1.3X sensor crop and presto – I had the composition I desired. Once again, seating myself in the canoe and using the gunwale to provide additional support and activating the Vibration Reduction on the Nikkor 200-500mm lens I was able to handhold the shot at the 35mm equivalent of a 1,000mm lens!

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500 (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/160 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Often I will venture down to the dock in the evening to see what critters have begun to emerge and was delighted to find the water snake at rest on the rock beside the dock. The only way to effectively photograph the snake was to get into the water. Due to the fading light, hand-holding the image was going to be impossible so I set-up my tripod in the lake allowing me to mount my camera and lens just above the water’s surface. Once again I was wanting to create a slight tighter composition so I set the 1.3X sensor crop. To deal with the low light and slow shutter speed I set my self-timer to 2 seconds, activated the Live View feature, and since the Nikon D500’s LCD screen is a touch screen you can actually touch the screen where you want it to focus. Once focus is achieved an image will be captured. In this case, I touched the LCD screen where the snake’s right eye is and two seconds later the camera recorded the image you see below.

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f11 @ 1/15 sec

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

 

 

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