Yes, we’re closed

End of the season

I brought the last load of firewood in on Friday. I’ve lost track of how many loads it’s been, but fewer than normal due to the extra capacity of the truck and the shed is fuller than ever before. Curiously I now have to start splitting right away as the weather is going cold; it’s been well below freezing every night but with daytime highs in the 20s, and those highs are expected to leave this week. Followed by maybe some rain and maybe some snow in time for a significant drop in temperatures. We’ve gotten away with quite an extended Summer this year, albeit not without price: 90% less rainfall than normal in the past three months with resulting environmental stresses including wildfires still burning.

In view of all that I went out Sunday to ‘close up’. This is a significant procedure as I have to remember to bring back anything that won’t survive months of freezing, and close down all the systems including draining water lines and putting antifreeze in plumbing traps. It takes a little over an hour to get there, another such time period to return (with a side trip to dispose of garbage), and to do all the stuff in between a couple more. Makes for an intense day to say the least.

I brought two cameras with me on this last trip; the venerable Nikon (which operates at about 90% failure rate these days) and the Canon 1Ds. I took no pictures (the image is from the prior trip). There just wasn’t anything to photograph. We’re at that dull time where Autumn has done its thing and Winter waits in the wing. The wildlife has scurried to dens or warmer climates and nothing much going on. I did see a party of hunters along the way, with nearly a dozen trucks and trailers and ATVs all getting ready for their big adventure. Too bad they set out too late in the day and too late in the season. Only four remained at the spot on my return trip. I could tell them a lot about what they’re doing wrong, but I’m not going to. Hunting has become a very foolish ‘sport’ which bears little resemblance to the actual practice. So if all the animals want to hide out at my place, that’s fine by me.

Now it’s time to gear up for the next adventure of sending the Mrs. off to England to look after her sister for what may be the last time. It is not a good situation, but we are determined that she will have as good of final years as is possible for what little time she has left.

Bonus (short) videos from the photographer who doesn’t do video:

The Goose Family Robinson

Finding Miss Raven

I’ll be doing more regular photography as soon as I see something to take a picture of.

 

Spring birds

Six birds, one tree.
Robin, the bird of Spring.
Common redpoll, which is uncommon here.
Bush with black-capped chickadee.
Downy woodpecker, who pretended to be a robin.
Pileated woodpecker, in a tuxedo.
Varied thrush, up high in potato (pine) tree.
Oregon dark-eyed junco, nicest picture of the lot.

All photos taken with Nikon P610.

Analysis Part 2: lenses

The second subset of the Nikon replacement problem is a Duesy! The P610’s lens not only has incredible zoom range, but incredible sharpness as well. It can go from this:

Ice Bubbles (cropped close up)

To this:

Tangled Tree at full telephoto

In one go without changing lenses. There are about four new cameras available that can manage that, and two of them are Nikon’s ‘replacements’ for their P610 model. Both of these are fraught with problems, including having too much zoom – and too much price.

Honestly if I were to design a replacement for the P610 I would have made improvements like better manual focusing and a larger (not necessarily higher resolution but 20MP would be nice) sensor. Think about it: the P1000 has the equivalent of a 3000mm lens on it. Now if they were to use a 2.3 sensor (6.6 x 8.8) instead of a 1/2.3 sensor (4.55 x 6.17) that would still give 1500mm equivalent telephoto (much like the P610’s 1440mm) but double the sensor size (in square area) meaning it would be better in low-light conditions – even with more pixels on it. Oh I’d certainly also do something about that tiny, dim EVF as well. Imagine the marketing: “largest, brightest viewfinder yet!” Or something like that. Really, somewhere between the LCD panel which can’t be seen in broad daylight and the tiny EVF which I can’t see in any light there has to be a spot where there’s a way of viewing the scene properly under normal shooting conditions. It’s an electronic image; it can technically be any size and brightness you want it to be. One thousand pixels stuck in a hole 10mm across is not the answer.

Anyway with the P1000 and P950 dismissed, the other two new camera options are the Canon SX70 and the Panasonic FZ80. The latter has a touch screen I dislike and the the former is about 2 times the money. Both have their other flaws as well. You’re not getting me to part with hundreds of dollars for a camera that falls short of my needs, no matter how many cup holders it has. What is the point of buying any camera that is, to put it bluntly, unsuitable?

So let’s look at my existing cameras and lenses instead. They also fall far short of my needs, but the money has already been spent.

Canon 75-300mm EF. Good thing I only paid $50 for it.

This one is obviously soft. On top of that, 300mm is short for bird photography and in no way close to the Nikon’s telescope-like abilities (even after the crop factor of 1.6). I could buy another of these lenses for about $150, but would it be any sharper? Maybe, but it certainly wouldn’t be any longer. There is an IS version as well which might help some with blur, but that one is $600+. If spending that kind of money I might as well get the Canon SX70 and have the truly long zoom range (65X), even if the finder is not as bright.

Canon 55-250mm EF-S. Sharper, but not longer.

Focal length is the main issue here. It has got IS and does a good job, but even with the crop factor it’s only 400mm equivalent and that’s 1000mm shy of what the Nikon can do. Add a 2X lens extender you say? Forget it: that’s reduced resolution, more money spent, and 800mm still isn’t 1440mm. Again better to buy an entire new super zoom camera.

Olympus 55-150mm.

This is not as good as it looks. Mainly because it’s a cropped segment of the full image (at 100%) and because I was maybe 15 feet away from that bird. On the Olympus, 150mm is equal to 300mm for a full-frame camera because the 4/3 size sensor has a 2X crop factor. There is a longer zoom available for it, with maximum 300mm which is like 600mm. That might just about do it – for $400+ and the hassle of importing it from Japan. The Panasonic FZ80 is about the same money without the import issues and has longer range. What’s more, the E410 is an out-of-date camera with a fairly ‘low’ resolution of 10MP (making cropping problematic at times) and the lenses are not really, shall we say, ‘Nikon-sharp’. It’s a pity because there are things I like about this camera. If only Olympus hadn’t fallen for the bean-counters’ insistence on mirrorless designs they might today be building a modern 4/3 DSLR that would be worth buying.

If you’ve read enough of my posts you know I have a few ‘classic’ long range zooms from the film camera era as well. You also know that they are very large and very heavy – and not all that sharp. Probably the best of them is the Hanimex which is a Pentax K mount, meaning it only fits on my Pentax K100Ds – which has the lowest resolution sensor of all my cameras. None of these old lenses are a practical solution.

What is, then? Well, maybe this:

Not a drawing.

What on Earth is that? Me playing around with things: a totally different genre/shooting style that owes nothing to my wildlife photography but is far easier to achieve within budget (as in it costs nothing).

Not sure I like the prospect of no more long telephoto shooting.

No, I definitely do not like that prospect.

The Chickadee

Bush King

In There Somewhere
On The Fence
Select A Seed
Up! Up!
And Away!

Note: these are not necessarily all the same bird as they were taken over several days as I experimented with the camera & lens, evaluating it for bird photography in fact. Most of the time I was quite close, but some are cropped.

(Photos taken with Olympus E410 & 40-150mm f3.5 lens.)

Backlog of birds

All kinds of things going on here, including wood harvesting, bad weather, and an utterly useless national election that wasted a huge amount of money for no reason whatsoever.

Not much photography though, for the reasons previously explained.

Here are some bird pictures left over from when I could take pictures.

Common Loon.
Song sparrow.
Downy woodpecker.

Above taken with the Nikon P610.

Gray jay aka whiskey jack.

Taken with the Pentax K100D.

Black-capped chickadee.

Taken with the Lumix ZS60, believe it or not.

Another song sparrow.

Taken with the Olympus E410.

Once again, I am cheated out of the ability to add to or subtract from my equipment stocks. I thought of buying a proper adaptor for the one FD mount lens I have, but I paid <$30 for the lens (with shipping) and can’t justify paying >$30 for the adaptor. It just doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t make sense that ego-Bay keeps sending me e-mails about items I’ve looked at when I can’t even sign in to delete the account. Talk about intractable stupidity!

 

Re-learning curve: Canon 1Ds

“Re-learning”? Not with this camera! This is the ‘full frame’ DSLR, and as such has the largest and brightest viewfinder. Seeing what I’m trying to photograph is the biggest problem these days, and with the 1Ds it’s almost not an issue. Likewise the Canon G11 with its optical finder gives similar performance. Only the EVFs and smaller, dimmer optical finders present much difficulty.

Okay this camera still has poorly-thought-out controls, but I know where they are and don’t have to change them often. Also it weighs a lot. But what about the all-important results? Well I took 28 photos and only 6 of them are actually bad. That’s the best post-eye-problem ratio of any camera I’ve got.

All these photos were taken with the 75-300mm Canon EF lens. Some are the full image, some are cropped to varying degrees. This is not the best lens either, but it was cheap and it works.

Landscape view. Or ‘lakescape’ perhaps.
Squirrel!
Shrouded in mystery.
Birds fly in the lake of the sky.
Natural guitar pick. (Stone full of mica.)
Bird in a tree.
First of this year’s wood harvest. (640 x 426 segment of full frame.)
Goodnight.

The success with using this camera reinforces the validity of my revised plan. In fact replacing this camera and the T100 with a 5D Mk II would by viable, but unlikely to happen. At this point I’m aiming for keeping the Fuji F80, Canon G11, Nikon P610 (which needs replacing at a later date), Canon T100, and this Canon 1Ds. Also I will use various adapters to allow the use of classic lenses with either Canon DSLR (the full frame cameras are not quite as good with this due to some lenses getting in the way of the larger mirrors).

To that end I have purchased some new equipment which hasn’t arrived yet but will result in further posts when it does. I’m not doing so well at selling off the superfluous stuff, but then there’s a lot else going on around here now with the start of the annual wood harvest.

Birdies

A small assortment of accumulated bird pictures.

But is having colouration like a gravel road a sensible survival adaptation? (Ruffed grouse)
Prison guard. (Northern rough-winged sparrow)
Blending in. (Alder flycatcher)
Serenity. (Barrow’s golden eye)

Incidentally WordPress no longer allows me to edit published posts in any way, so whatever typos I make are now permanent.

Finally back to the cabin

What with one thing and another (especially weather) it has taken me quite some time to get back out in the woods and pick up where I left off rather suddenly last fall.

Yes that’s snow.

Not only was there still snow in the dark shadows and along the road edge, but the road itself was like a lunar surface – after a heavy artillery barrage. The first 4 kilometers could best be described as “shredded”. After that … well they were grading the one section known for staying flat, hard, and smooth so I guess that explains it. No one told them they’re supposed to do the bumpy bits.

Think of it as ready-to-slice firewood.

Although not actually blocking my route, there are plenty of trees down. Again. Some of it will be fine firewood, other bits are just in the way. The notorious “new path” between the two routes is blocked again, as it is every year. Eventually there will be no trees left on that triangle of land.

Dock? Not any more.

Although the lake was not as high this year as last, it has done some damage. As of my arrival the wind was too choppy to put the water line out (I have no desire to be knocked over by a wave and drowned, or even just doused). Perhaps I can get to that tomorrow. When it’s supposed to snow. Spring? Not ’round here, mate!

Mr. & Mrs. Goldeneye (it’s a kind of waterfowl).

I brought along only two cameras this time: the venerable (if cantankerous) Nikon P610 and the Canon 1Ds (to try it out on landscape shots). The weather is cloudy so I didn’t get any beautiful snow-capped mountain pictures on the way in. Besides I forgot my concocted CF card reader so I can’t off-load from the Canon. I also forgot the micro SD adapter so I can’t check the video from my new toy:

New & cheap action/dashcam.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Other than snow, I mean. I have a huge amount of work to do all over the place here. Again. But at least nothing got destroyed over the Winter.

Bunch o’ birds

Some miscellaneous bird pictures that have been piling up in the Nikon file.

Robins. Trust me.
See? Robins.
Except this one is a varied thrush.
And this one is an Oregon dark-eyed junco.
Robins again.
I’ve got my beady little eye on thee! (Robin of course.)
Guess what?
Slate-coloured junco and his Oregon cousin.
Northern flicker pretending to be a robin.
The Robin Tree. So-named because we have had a huge number of robins this year and they like to hang out in this tree. (Look for the blobs.)