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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - 2018 (M38A1)

M38A1

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Late to the party here on getting some shots culled, processed and pushed up. But hey - better late than never, right?

So last year Woodbutcher (Rusty) and I headed to Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to do some bird photography. Not having done much of this ever, I was a bit behind the eight-ball so to speak. This year was different - I had a new piece of glass (Sigma 150-600) and a new gimble head for the tripod. Oh and that new body (D500) to play with. Doh! With that, Rusty headed off to a wedding in Phoenix and swung by Bosque BdA on his way back. Kyle (deco) and I headed out from the Austin area and we met up with Rusty and his daughter.

The first day of shooting was wonderful. Great light and nice temperatures. The next day however, the bottom fell out and it was cold (like 9*F cold) and snowing all day. Needless to say the light wasn't great. The third day was crisp and clear as was the fourth day for the trip home.

Here goes...

Liftoff is always a fun shot
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Not a lot of these guys out. They all seemed to like to hangout in one tree and it wasn't this one. I counted five bald eagles in one tree alone.
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Fresh battle wounds for the mulie
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Blue Herron just stumping around
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Couple of sandhill cranes showing how it's done
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...and this one just strutting it's stuff
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Snow goose in a bank turn
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Couple of Canadian Goose. The one with the band came from Northern Canada according to the tag
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Nice little mallard
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It's PePe LePew!
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Looking for dinner
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I thought this angle was hilarious for these turkey's just wandering out of a cornfield
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Northern Shoveler
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And then the weather changed overnight. This one was highly processed for that 'artsy' look. Yet most of them following aren't processed near as much and have that same vibe. It was cold and snowing the entire day too.
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The constant snowing made for some cool shots. Not great light, but cool effects.
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Kyle doing his thing. This shot gives you an idea of what the conditions were like.
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Some random bird
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That little black blob was 'almost' dinner
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Probably one of my favorites from the trip
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Couple of mule deer does
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Pintail and Canada Goose
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That Blue Heron from yesterday? He didn't move far
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...and my closing shot for a silhouette
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Another Mule deer
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On the way back to Texas, we saw these guys
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Overall I had a blast in spite of the snow and cold. I think it made for some interesting image captures. But the real treasure for me was spending time with Rusty, his daughter KT, and Kyle. Pictures are nice, but the memories will be of the time we spent together.

The full gallery is HERE if you're interested.
 
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Tourmeister

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That Heron is like an old fisherman. Once you find a good hole, you keep going back to it :-P

I love the expression on the face of the duck coming in for a landing in the snow... He just has that, "Oh great!" annoyed look on his face.

They are all great shots. I am amazed at how well you get the eyes focused. I never seem to be able to manipulate the controls, frame the shots, etc,... fast enough to keep eyes in focus.
 

M38A1

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...I am amazed at how well you get the eyes focused. I never seem to be able to manipulate the controls, frame the shots, etc,... fast enough to keep eyes in focus.
Thanks-
Once you get the hang of what's going on, you let the camera do as much as possible. Faster shutter speeds, "C" focus mode, single point focus, floating ISO, "Manual" exposure mode and continuous burst shooting pretty much gets you there. All you need to do is keep the focus point on their head or neck if possible. :-) Also, like aircraft the birds will take off or land into the wind which makes it easy to know where to put that focus point orientation in the camera viewfinder as you generally know their direction of flight. (...and the 64 shots I came away with in the gallery link are just that - 64 - of about 2000)
 
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Fantastic shots, Scott. I'm sure the weather was pretty miserable, but like you said, it made for some really interesting pictures. Thanks for sharing!

So, unless I missed it, I didn't see anything about the new Siggy. What are your thoughts?
 

M38A1

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So, unless I missed it, I didn't see anything about the new Siggy. What are your thoughts?
That's a whole 'nuther topic.....

I had zero intention on purchasing it, but as usual Rusty and Kyle were there and peer pressure sort of took over. Well, that and Precision was having a sale and the Siggy reps were there and they paid the sales tax on top of a good price. So I got out to Bosque and couldn't figure out why my copy was 'shorter' than Kyles. Duh - I left the sunshade at home. With some judicious placement of where that thing was pointing I was able to keep it clean and dry throughout the trip.

So I only had it a short bit before I left. That means I really didn't shoot it before we left which was a mistake. When I got home a significant percentage of the shots were out of focus (OOF). Bummed, I did some testing at the house with it and sure enough, it just had a hard time acquiring 'lock' (the little arrows left and right just would go back and forth infrequently giving me the circle ball). So back to Precision I went with my test shots in hand, my fine-tune shots in hand and data. Never really needed it. The sales rep at Precision simply asked "do you want another copy or your money back"? I had to think on that a bit then opted for another copy. So I got that one home and shot it a bit and it seems considerably sharper throughout the focus range and there's no 'hunt' on focus lock like the previous one. So as of now, I'm pleased with it. I sort of look at the purchase as a stop-gap between now and the 200-400 f/4 I "think" I want and "know" I don't need. :-)
 
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That's a whole 'nuther topic.....

I had zero intention on purchasing it, but as usual Rusty and Kyle were there and peer pressure sort of took over. Well, that and Precision was having a sale and the Siggy reps were there and they paid the sales tax on top of a good price. So I got out to Bosque and couldn't figure out why my copy was 'shorter' than Kyles. Duh - I left the sunshade at home. With some judicious placement of where that thing was pointing I was able to keep it clean and dry throughout the trip.

So I only had it a short bit before I left. That means I really didn't shoot it before we left which was a mistake. When I got home a significant percentage of the shots were out of focus (OOF). Bummed, I did some testing at the house with it and sure enough, it just had a hard time acquiring 'lock' (the little arrows left and right just would go back and forth infrequently giving me the circle ball). So back to Precision I went with my test shots in hand, my fine-tune shots in hand and data. Never really needed it. The sales rep at Precision simply asked "do you want another copy or your money back"? I had to think on that a bit then opted for another copy. So I got that one home and shot it a bit and it seems considerably sharper throughout the focus range and there's no 'hunt' on focus lock like the previous one. So as of now, I'm pleased with it. I sort of look at the purchase as a stop-gap between now and the 200-400 f/4 I "think" I want and "know" I don't need. :-)
Ah, well that's a bummer about the copy you had at Bosque! At least it seems to be sorted now. I assume you have the Sport version, not the Contemporary version, correct?

Still want the 200-400, huh? What a monster. It does seem to be long in the tooth now. I'd love to see Nikon come out with an updated "ED" smaller/lighter version. It's overdue IMO.
 

M38A1

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No, I got the Contemporary version due to 1) cost and 2) i don't like being out in the rain much anymore. lol....

As for that 200-400, it's an old lens now for sure. I like what Rusty has in the 100-400 Canon line and it seems to do really well for him. Part of me got tripped up on the 'low cost solution with wide focal range capability'. I've always pretty much tried to steer away from such large small/big combinations for the simple reason they can do the job but not spectacular at either end. But everything I've been reading about a few of these (Tamaron/Siggy/Nikon) says people are really happy with them. The problem with that approach is, I don't know where their 'happy' point is. MY 'happy' point is tack sharp regardless of image focal length. I might end up regretting this one or loving it. For for a grand, it's not a ton of money either way if it goes South on me.
 

Tourmeister

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The problem with that approach is, I don't know where their 'happy' point is.
This is SOOOO true with so many things, not just lenses! If I don't know someone pretty well, I take such advice with a TINY grain of salt. It applies to books, movies, TV shows, restaurants, motorcycles, cameras, etc,...
 
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No, I got the Contemporary version due to 1) cost and 2) i don't like being out in the rain much anymore. lol....

As for that 200-400, it's an old lens now for sure. I like what Rusty has in the 100-400 Canon line and it seems to do really well for him. Part of me got tripped up on the 'low cost solution with wide focal range capability'. I've always pretty much tried to steer away from such large small/big combinations for the simple reason they can do the job but not spectacular at either end. But everything I've been reading about a few of these (Tamaron/Siggy/Nikon) says people are really happy with them. The problem with that approach is, I don't know where their 'happy' point is. MY 'happy' point is tack sharp regardless of image focal length. I might end up regretting this one or loving it. For for a grand, it's not a ton of money either way if it goes South on me.
Makes sense to me. I feel the same way about my Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6. Sometimes I'm really impressed with the results, sometimes I'm extremely frustrated. It drives my wife crazy, but I have a hard time hanging on to any photo that is not tack sharp, this becomes a problem with pictures of our daughters. But with these long focal lengths, I have no option but to stay budget minded. Anything else and I'd have to give up my motorcycles to support the cost, and that's not happening.
 
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