Friday, February 10, 2012

British Wildlife Center | February 2012

After a long wildlife photography hiatus, I'm back! Well maybe. I'm running out of my own photos to sketch from, so maybe it's time to go back to get more references from the wildlife parks.
I wasn't aware that Surrey was having a boatload of snow, thankfully I wore my full bad weather setup - with a minor hickup of not wearing double layered socks, so my toes are still feeling quite tender even as I type.
The critters we managed to get photographs today were the Red Squirrels, Wildcats, Otters, Deer, Harvest Mice and Owl. Foxes and Badgers were no go, the first being uber skittish, and the latter refusing to wake up.
Brought my usual wildlife kit out - D300, 300/4, 70-200. For the most part, the 70-200 was in use, though when the harvest mice were abound, I switched over to the 300/4, occasionally with the 1.4x TC.
Bit rusty shooting with long lenses, and messed up alot of the shots by incorrectly selecting where to focus. To give an idea of how thin the DOF is on a 300mm:

The AF - thankfully - is still spot on, and I was using a single point AF for most of the day, alternating between 11 and 51 AF points depending on the speed of the critter. I only had to switch to multi point Af when tracking fast moving critters or low contrast subjects.
What can I say. I just love the D300's AF.

Towards the end of the day, a pair of owls were brought out for us to shoot, a Tawny Owl and a Barn Owl. I'm not a big fan of owls standing around, so tried to get uber close details.

The above is un-cropped, using the 300/4 with the 1.4xTC. Bit saddened there were no foxes available, would have been frakkin' awesome to catch them in the snow.

Perhaps next year.

Two new things were also introduced into my photography today, first off is my flash being powered by Sanyo Eneloop batteries. After years of pining for them, I finally have a set! Only because I blew up my last set of batteries and their charger. I don't know why, don't ask. But it's not bad, since I've used them for about 2 years, across countless photography trips over many countries.

The eneloops are.... well they work like the sanyos they replaced. Supposedly they rock as they don't have any charge leakage, so you don't need to "top them off" before going on a photoshoot.

In addition, the bundle I picked come with a really awesome microprocessor controlled battery charger than charges 4 cells together, *individually* shutting of the charge when each cell is done. On top of that, if only two cells were charged at a time, a quick charge mode activates, decreasing the charge time in half. And 3 times the speed, if only 1 cell was charged. I can't see myself using this feature, but it's still nice to know this little tidbid :)

Secondly, I've moved over to Corel Aftershot Pro... no sense in hanging on to old software. Still getting to grips with the package. One thing I'm not a fan of is the contrast slider, it tends to give some really hot highlights, whereas adjusting the contrast via a curve seems to do much better. Color wise, I'm a bit too pooped to copy/redesign my old color curves for Aftershot Pro, need to get that done soon.

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