Points in Focus Photography

This is the 3rd update in a series of photo journals looking at the development of a Green heron nest and the rearing of the young. The pair ultimately laid 3 eggs, as seen last time. Incubation time was on the order of 22-23 days. The chicks hatched within the 48 hours preceding Friday April 30, 2010.

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I had the opportunity to photograph the only flying B-25H Mitchell medium bomber while it was in town over the weekend. While not quite as impressive in terms of size and noise as the B-17 I photographed last year, it was no less an awesome experience.

The Barbie III is operated by History Flight and tours the US offering people a chance to experience flying in this historic aircraft.

A trio of juvenile Great Blue Herons await feeding.

Great Blue Heron chicks fight tug-of-war style over a fish at feeding time.

This has turned into something less of an ideal weak for me to get out material. I’m currently working on a series that takes a look at watermarking or otherwise protecting your digital images and how effective it is. Along with some thoughts into the usability problems each of the methods creates.

Anhinga in Flight

In the mean time, I’ve been out shooting now that I have my gear back and in working order so until I get my article done, here are some of the better bird shots from this week. Also I won’t be checking in on the Green Heron that I’ve been following until it gets a little closer to hatching time.

Today’s weather was miserable, rain on top of rain. If it could rain elephants and whales that’s what it was doing. When the weather broke for a bit though I ran up to check on the Green Heron nest. Not only did it seem to survive the weather the nest now has the 3 eggs typical of a Green Heron clutch.

The male of a nesting pair of Least Bitterns patrols the edges of the reed bank before departing to forage.
The Least Bittern relies on camouflage and building it’s nest deep in reeds for protection.
Black-and-white Warbler, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida
A Black-and-white Warbler taken at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida.


This has not been my year for bird photography. In January my long lens broke and following that my main camera spent a week at Canon being worked on. That said, this has certainly been the year for birding, unlike last year which was just depressingly bad. Wakodahatchee Wetlands, one of my local birding spots has been hopping since early January and I’ve been without the glass to shoot it.

That said, on Wednesday the 24th, I made it back to Wakodahatchee though certainly not at the ideal time, mid-day. However, there was still a few good shots to be had and lots of clouds didn’t hurt the light either.

The highlight of the day was a Purple Gallinule foraging in Spatterdock and Pickerel Weed along the boardwalk shown here.

The start of 2010 looked like it was headed towards being the quarter of destruction. As I wrote about previously, I managed to break my 100-400. I also picked up a new EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM, only the first copy wouldn’t focus consistently on any camera I put it on, so back it went to B&H.

I have to plug B&H Photo out of NYC here for a second; I buy almost all my gear though them, mostly due to their fabulous customer support. The few times I’ve had a problem with something, they’ve been amazingly quick to take care of me, from short hold times when calling customer service to painless returns and exchanges.

Anyway, the second copy of the 24-70 arrived and this time while focusing fine on my 40D, was still all over the place on my 1D Mark 3, a strong indicator that this time it wasn’t the lens, but the camera.

Now the 1D-3 has a bit of a reputation for being a little fast and loose with its definition of focused. Even since the initial defect was corrected, there’s still some debate over whether the AF was actually fixed. Some photographers still insist that the OOF rate is higher than it should be; others never had a problem to start with. Personally, I never saw a problem until the 24-70/2.8.

The odd thing to me is that slower lenses have always been spot on. Even when the actual depth of field wasn’t all that large in physical terms, like when shooting a 400mm lens at f/5.6 with a rather short subject distance.

With the second lens a no-go on the 1D, it was time for the 1D to go back to Canon for a checkup.

Since the 1D Mark 3 has had focusing issues, Canon has a standing service bulletin that 1D (and 1Ds mark 3) users can have their camera’s AF checked out and repaired as a courtesy from Canon, in other words for free.

I can’t say I was happy about having a problem, but at least Canon is taking care of their customers.

Now I’ve sent exactly 2 things to Canon for service, my 1D and an EF 28-135 lens some years back. In both cases, I’ve been absolutely floored by the speed and responsiveness from Canon. Especially after hearing the problems a friend has been having getting Nikon to fix a clearly malfunctioning battery grip.

In this case, my camera was out of my hands for service for a whopping 7 days. Was overnighted on a Tuesday; Fedex dropped it off the following Tuesday. I actually got the camera back before I got the letter from Canon explaining that they received the camera and were going to repair it.

Was it fixed? Everything so far says yes.

While I still haven’t redeveloped the confidence in the camera that I use to have, that’s just going to take some time. I haven’t had any blatantly out of focus images from it yet though and that’s a good sign.

While I may have, a long list of complains about Canon’s pricing and design decisions, never mind the recently slipping in image quality relative to Nikon, and occasionally have even consider switching. The people that deal with the worst part of photography, having broken gear, have performed as well if not better than I could ask for and I’m not even a CPS member.

So atta-boy Canon USA, thanks for the speedy job.

  1. Canon USA 1D/1Ds Mark 3 AF Service Notice
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