Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hang Gliding

Although the Falls of the Ohio State Park is not large as state parks go, it can seem like two entirely different places just in the space of 24 hours. Saturday, we just missed a large mass of rain and storms that passed to the east of Louisville. The day was humid, and exceedingly cloudy however. In the woods along the river bank warblers darted from branch to branch, waiting for a front to move through so they could resume migration. I had no time to focus the binoculars, let alone a camera. Migrating Blue Jays called raucously above.

We have a breeding pair of Ospreys which successfully raised two offspring from a nest in a cell tower by the power plant at the Falls this summer. Our family of Ospreys were out in force all weekend. Flapping mightily in the still air, they circled the same spot on the river for fish. One hovered for a while - has he found a fish? Dive down, and swoop back up again at the last minute. Over several hours, we only saw one Osprey actually catch anything, even though they moved upstream and downstream trying for better luck. Did the dull skies affect their hunting? They must have been very tired and hungry after hours of this. This is a lifetime chance to get FOUR Ospreys in the same shot!! Overnight the rain from upstream caught up with us, and acres of exposed fossil beds were covered with raging rapids as the Army Corps of Engineers opened the gates of the dam. A stiff breeze blew all day, and the solid dark clouds lightened, then left altogether. After yesterday's effort, the Osprey family spent the day just hang gliding, along with the Peregrine Falcon, Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, and an occasional hawk or two. Fortunately, I walked the fossil beds on Saturday, during the dry, and got some new fossil photos to add to my collection. How many people do you know who take pictures of rocks? The stiff breeze was not enjoyed by butterflies though. I watched several brave Monarchs trying to fly across the river into a headwind that must have seemed like a hurricane to one so small. I don't know if any of them made it across or not.

Now, I have a question for all you bird photographers. On a day like today, I can see the birds high above in my binoculars pretty well, but I'd sure like to get better photos of them. At the Falls, for example, many of the birds will be at least half a mile away. I do not have a real DSLR camera, being hesitant to spend the $$$$$$$ required, and also reluctant to cart multiple lenses around to take photos of both butterflies and birds on the same day. My Panasonic Lumix lets me zoom from near to far so easily, and it weighs very little so I can carry it all day. But I'm zoom greedy, and want to zoom more. What do you all use and find convenient for your good photos? Do you get frustrated changing lenses, and maybe losing the shot of the decade? Is there any way to get the equipment and try it for 30 days or so? Do you get a faster, sharper focus by turning the lens instead of using autofocus? I tried digiscoping and never got more than the inside of the scope's tube, so forget that. Please let me know by comment or email. I appreciate all your knowledge and experience. By the way, I bought a Nikon P90 with a 24x zoom, and it won't focus on birds if there is anything else around them (like leaves and branches). Booooo! I gave it to my husband to use and took back the first one.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Interesting questions. I have some rather expensive DLSR camera and lenses and also a Panasonic Lumix with up to 12X zoom which on extended zoom gives you a 480mm long lens. The problem with that is the extra zoom is digital which means the camera separates the pixels giving you a fuzzy long range picture. My DSLR zoom lens is a 70-300mm but it's an optical zoom which means the pixels are tight. I can crop the pictures for more zoom but there is also a limit you can do with that. I can do a digital zoom by to 600mm but again pictures get fuzzy.

None of us "birders" are ever satisfied with our cameras or the size of our lenses. We always want more and more and more but the cost keeps us from doing it.

My advice is to see if the Nikon has a "spot" focus feature which means it only focuses on the center of the picture. This would keep the camera from focusing on all the stuff around it.

Other then that, it's up to you on what you do or buy. There are always some long range pictures that you just can't get.