Questioning Sanity

Sunday …freezing rain and then just plain rain. Sane people sleep late on days like this but yours truly decided to spend most of the morning sitting in a one man blind trying to photograph “feeder birds”. Object of all this was to test AF on my MKIIN and the 600mm. Jeff Kezele prompted this experiment when he emailed this week with a report of ‘missed’ focus at less than 20 feet.

I went to DOFMaster and plugged in the data for the camera, the lens and the distance. It says the DOF is 0.03 feet– yep, a huge 3 one hundreths of a foot. The following gallery has images where I put the top middle AF point on the eye or I did not put the AF point on the eye…(close like cheek or head/neck juncture but not on the eye). After seeing the results, I may have to use the club rule that allows ‘focus stacking’….like the little buggers will set still long enough to do this.

I have to look in the original preview in BreezeBrowser Pro to tell where the AF point was but y’all may have better vision 🙂 .


Image of the Weekend

Saturday morning, Molly and I went to Riverlands. Forecast was for partly cloudy turning to clouds. Riverlands was clear as a bell. Once again, not much was happening at Heron Pond, Two Pecan Trail, Teal Pond or below the lock and dam.

There were a few swans on the large part of Ellis Bay but the majority of the birds were near the Ellis Bay ‘islands’ and were content to sleep off the cold temps. No kestrel either. We did get a few eagles but the highlight was a some Bufflehead ducks under the 367 bridge in a small open water area surrounded by ice.

Note to self: Check all your camera settings before going out. I had been shooting low light images and had the ISO cranked up….not real pretty when you look at them on the computer.


Luckily, Molly saved the day and here is one of her keepers.



MLK King Day shoot

MLK King day started off cold and windy. Hit Riverlands early. As I turned off 367 I looked at Teal Pond– a few Canada Geese, some diver ducks and gulls…. not much happening.

Heron Pond? What a contrast from Saturday where there were plenty of swans, geese and ducks, now there were maybe a dozen mallards….at best. Looked like Riverlands was going to be a bust. So back to Teal Pond. After 30 minutes of having strong wind blowing in the driver’s side, I decided to park facing Ellis Bay to get out of the wind. George stopped and we got a eagle fly over and I managed a few shots.

Decided that I might run up to Hideaway so started to leave– and saw a Jeep pulled over and big ol white lens sticking out the window on the Lincoln Shields side of 367. Knowing the area and where the lens was pointing I knew he had found the Kestrel. I went up and turned around. Easing slowly into place so I wouldn’t spook the Kestrel, I stopped and began to get a few shots. Birders began stopping and doing their thing and ended up spooking the Kestrel. I started to leave and saw….another Kestrel.

Got some keepers out of the day– from bust to boom




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SATURDAY AM-1/19/2013

Molly and I have not been to Riverlands much this year ( hey,it is only Jan 20th 🙂  )So, we thought a morning trip would be a good thing. One thing you can count on is running into George G, ‘senior photographer” of Riverlands. Looking fit as a fiddle, or as he puts it ” I’ve taken nourishment”, George was running the roads looking for something interesting to photograph. He reported that one of his Nikon’s was on the blink– we hope the problem is minor.

Molly and I had to shoot long distance at the swans in Heron Pond which has it pros and cons. I attached one of her images of the Trumpeter swans taking off at the end of this post.

On the way out we ran into a Great Blue Heron. I’m always amazed at the toughness of these birds– especially when the area freezes over.The portrait is the result. The image in the marsh is from Columbia Bottoms which had very little water and had not totally thawed during the recent warm up.

gbh_01192013 trumpeters_01192013 gbh_01182013

If you have a Gitzo series 3 tripod…better read this

My friend Joel Dunbar ( sent me an email that sent shivers up my spine.

Joel had been in his local wetland photographing and was walking out. Like many of us with large glass, he had the camera and lens (600mm F4) on his Gitzo thrown over his shoulder. As he reached the top of a levee, the mounting platform of his Gitzo came out of the ‘spider’. Camera and lens hit the ground breaking the lens near the section where the focus limiting controls are located (see image at end of post).

Joel was understandably upset.

I started researching options for repairs. I have had mixed results with Canon Repair but it looked like the best bet. We looked at Canon Professional Services (CPS) and found that Joel qualified for Gold membership,which had a discount for repairs. He contacted Canon and arranged to join and sent the lens in for repair. I’m glad to report that he got the lens back in a very short period of time and looks like all is well…for less than I would have ever imagined.

Molly and I are thinking very hard about joining CPS after seeing the results from Joel’s experience.

Once I heard that Joel had the lens come off the platform on the tripod, I talked with Jeff Kezele about the Gitzo Safety Assurance Plate ( He said he had one and it worked. I bought them for Molly and my tripods. Sent the link to Joel and he is buying one as well.

Something to think about if you are hanging heavy glass on these tripods. The newest model has been designed to not have this problem. However, if you do not have the latest version, I’d suggest you consider getting one of these plates.

If you decide not to buy the safety plate– at least tighten the star bolt monthly and keep your fingers crossed.

click to enlarge image

broken lens


I suppose by now everyone knows where to go and when to go to get images of Northern Harriers. If you don’t or you have forgotten, email us and we will be glad to share. Still processing the cream of the crop but these ain’t chopped liver and I am pleased with how they turned out.


I had to skip the last few days of Missouri’s Duck Hunting Middle Zone with a nasty sore throat and low grade fever. After being cooped up, I just had to get out of the house…cold or no cold. I thought if I waited until late morning and let the temps get closer to being above freezing, I could probably get a few images and not get any sicker.

Didn’t really work that way, but I did manage to get some ducks on ice images while waiting for harriers to fly by. Got the images,got chewed out for coming home sicker than I left and was put on “house arrest” by Warden Molly for the last few days of my winter vacation.

Hope you like the images– they were worth the ‘jail time” .  🙂