Thursday, June 27, 2013

Late June In Pennsylvania Elk Country-Part 2

Early Moonrise: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II L@145mm-ISO 100-1/640 sec. f8
I intended to post more photos from last week's trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country long before this, but the laptop that I ordinarily use to post crashed.  While I have several computers this one was organized for posting and cruising the internet (I try to keep the computers I use in serious photo, audio, and video work off of the internet as much as possible).  That being said, I don''t think the problem was caused by the internet as in my experience malware cannot cause hardware failure and this computer failed in more than one area. On the last use it performed as expected, but when I went to use it again it had turned off (I had put it in sleep mode, but now it was completely dead).  When I hit the button to power up, the fan would run but nothing else. No Logo or option to go into the bios--just a black screen.  At this point I wasn't too alarmed because if the boot sector of the disk is damaged it is still possible to access by at least two methods and recover most if not all of the data, but this was not possible in this case.  The hard drive was completely dead.  Even with a dead drive or no drive installed for that matter one should still get the start screen.  It was not a virus or other malware as that can corrupt your boot sector or damage files, but it cannot physically damage hard drive so that it cannot be formatted. The computer was unplugged as their was a threat of  severe thunderstorms and it was asleep in battery mode. There was no chance that the battery ran down as it was fully charged and had not been in sleep mode long.  As best as I can figure there had to be a component failure that resulted in damage to to multiple parts of the laptop.  It is four years old and has had heavy use, so at this point I am awaiting a replacement and using an audio production computer to post.  Now so much for the computer problems.

As I noted in the last post, elk photography was not as productive as one would hope, but it still was an enjoyable trip. It was so pleasant just to be afield in the early mornings and late evenings.  One several occasions I went out early in the evening, got on a good vantage point and just soaked up the beauty of the countryside. While photos such as the one below may have little commercial value except to illustrate articles about elk and elk habitat, I can seldom resist taking them, In fact I usually take a photograph from this spot each time I am there. In this case I waited until shortly before sundown so that the sunlight had that special cast and the shadows of late evening  molded the terrain and made the ridges and valleys stand out.

Pennsylvania Elk Country: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 17-40mm f4@40mm-ISO 100-1/500 sec. f5
Ron "Buckwheat" Saffer was also in elk country and he was enthusiastic about the many opportunities to photograph birds that presented themselves.  I always like to see birds and since I concentrate on filming I usually end up getting a lot of video, but few if any good still shots.  At any rate it was common to see,  Bobolinks, Bluebirds, Meadow Larks, and various types of sparrows, along with many other species. I didn't take one good still photo of birds with the MK III.  I was with Buckwheat when he photographed a Killdeer.  I took mostly video, but at one point I mounted the 500mm F4 and took a  RAW photo with the GH3.

Killdeer: Panasonic GH3-Canon 500mm f4 IS L-ISO 200-1/200sec. f?

One must use a special adapter to use the L lenses on the GH3.  They are manual focus on this camera and only partial meta-data is recorder.  It does show the ISO and shutter speed selected, but as the lens does not communicate with the camera it does not record the lens info such as brand, f stop, focal length, etc. It is not hard to remember what lens is used, but unless one keeps notes, remembering the f stop, etc. is out--at least for me.

I had an excellent encounter with a meadow lark on Thursday morning, but it was too far for stills so I made still captures of video clips.  The first is with the 500mm and the extended telephoto mode, which gives the lens an effective focal length of 2,4000mm when once considers the 2x crop factor of the GH3 sensor and the added 2.4X crop of the extended telephoto mode.

Meadow Lark: Panasonic GH3-Canon 500mm f4 IS L-ISO 200-2.4x extended telephoto mode
There is also the option for 2X or 4X digital zoom.  This can be used with the camera either in standard mode or in extended telephoto mode(ETC).  When it is in ETC mode, the 4x  looks so bad as to be unusable, but the 2x looks quite good on the LCD, but it is lacking when viewing on an HD TV. I ordinarily do not use this setting, but I was experimenting and as one could expect I got one of the best poses of the bird singing when I was in the 2X+ETC mode.

Meadow Lark: Panasonic GH3-Canon 500mm f4 IS L-ISO 200-ETC+2X digital zoom
A good lesson to take away from the trip is that it is rewarding to pay attention to all of nature and not tune out everything but one species, rather one is well advised to take advantage of all excellent photo opportunities when they present themselves.  Looking back, I did enjoy the elk photography on this trip, but I find myself thinking more about the birds and the wildflowers and at least for me, at the end of the day the most important thing is the memories.

Originally Published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Late June in Pennsylvania Elk Country-Part 1

Foggy Morning Sunrise: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II @ 182 mm-ISO 100 1/1000 sec. f 11
I spent most of last week in Pennsylvania elk country with the primary purpose of the trip being to photograph and film elk calves. As it turned out, I saw a lot of calves, but they were usually at a long distance and were moving.  On a few occasions I did see a cow walk up to where its' calf was hidden and the calf stood up and nursed, but in two instances the range was too long for dramatic still photography and the light was harsh with a lot of mirage in the atmosphere so that there was simply too much atmospheric distortion for the big telephotos to deliver acceptable results on the video camera.  Had I been concentrating on still photography and using the 500mm lens, I would have had a few photos of calves to post, but as it worked out I took not one still image of them. As a result I went through the video clips and captured some still frames of calves to post today.

As one would expect, most of the elk were seen either very early or very late.  I caught these elk as they crossed a meadow along Winslow Hill Road on their way to the woods to spend the hot part of the day.

Cows and Calves on Winslow Hill: Panasonic GH3-Lumix 100-300 f 4-5.6-Video Still Capture
I saw calves on several occasions in the tall grass where the old Gilbert farm house once stood, but they were always at a distance and following their mothers as they left the meadows at sunrise.

Calf Follows Mother at Gilbert -Winslow Hill: Panasonic GH3-Lumix 100-300 f 4-5.6-Video Still Capture
While there was some fog on most mornings, it was not so thick that it made photography impossible, but in cases such as the first photo shown today--contributed to creating dramatic film and video.

Cow and Calf at Gilbert-Winslow Hill: Panasonic GH3-Lumix 100-300 f 4-5.6-Video Still Capture
In one instance I saw a calf nursing near Winslow Hill Road and it was so early that I used the 5D MK III with the 500mm F4 to film them, so that I could take advantage of the superb low light capability of the MK III.  Again this is a still capture from a video clip.

Calf Nurses- Winslow Hill: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm F4-Video Still Capture
 The calf is barely visible in the still capture, but shows up quite well in the video clip.  I will try to make a short film of the best clips of the trip and post it in the near future.

There were other interesting subjects to photograph as well and I hope to post more photos of the trip in the near future.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.