2013—Day 41—Bald

I splurged on a new lens to take on my trip to the Grand Canyon on February 20. I picked it up yesterday at Action Camera and went out today in search of subjects to try out the lens. What I learned today was not a new thing but rather a reminder: Be sure to read, and understand, the manual before, not after you return home from, the photo shoot.

My new lens is an AF-S Nikkor 70-200 f/4G ED VR lens. It is one of Nikon’s newest lenses and I opted for it, instead of the 70-200 f/2.8 lens, for a number of reasons: 1) price ($1000 less); 2) weight (3o oz. vs. 54.3 oz.); and 3) 3rd generation Vibration Reduction. All the reviews I’ve read praised its clarity, speed, and VR. I use a Nikon D800, which I love, and I am obsessed about focus. The latest VR is supposed to be far better than previous generations. I know it is but I was so anxious to see how my new lens performed that I failed to spend a few minutes reading the manual (the pages in English number only 10 for Pete’s sake) or examining the actual lens and its switches thoroughly. As a result, my settings weren’t where they were supposed to be so I was disappointed with the results. If only I’d taken the time to examine both the lens and the manual, I might have had a bit more success and the shot of the bald eagle I encountered just a couple of miles from my home, would have been great instead of just so-so. It was only after I returned home that I realized I should have changed the VR switch from normal to active because I was moving as were my subjects. This switch is on a couple of my other lenses but I never think to change it. I hope today’s experience gets me to pay more attention to all the settings on the lens, not just the exposure triangle settings on the camera.

Despite my disappointment in my performance today, the good news is that I even FOUND a bald eagle so near. I drove to the rice fields in Sutter County, just a couple of miles from my house. I often see hawks in the area and today was no exception. I saw kestrels, a white tailed kite, a ferruginous hawk, lots of harriers, I think I even saw a prairie falcon and I took photos of several of these raptors and some egrets and a flock of greater white-fronted geese. As I drove home thinking I had some great shots of the geese as they lifted off from the pond I stopped by, I noticed a large white-headed bird flying low over another pond. Luckily for me, there was a pullout. I grabbed my camera and crossed the road and watched in amazement as a juvenile (according to Sibley’s probably a 3rd year juvenile) bald eagle flying around a large pond, being harrassed by lots of other birds. He stayed long enough for me to get quite a few shots. I hope I can find him again now that I know what to do to improve my chances of getting a more in focus shot. I cropped the first three shots; the last shows the setting.

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