Last week a Canon 300mm lens was brought into my shop by an owner had decided to downsize her equipment. By “downsize” I mean that she was changing from her big DSLR to a much smaller and lighter mirrorless camera.
I thought I’d entice buyers by showing photographs of birds using that neat telephoto lens with a 1.4 Canon telextender that I also had to sell.
Everyone likes eagles, and I had noticed a few clinging to trees along the river on my drive home. I was sure a couple shots of eagles in the dismal valley smoke would be proof as to the quality of that 300mm.
I don’t have a Canon DSLR so I called my friend Jo McAvany and suggested that I’d drive along the river as she looked for eagles. I could pull over for her to use the 300mm and the 1.4 telex on he cropped frame DSLR. That meant she could shoot from the open window with what would effectively be around a 550mm lens.
Jo showed up at my house around 9AM as I was having my morning coffee. (Jo is one of those strange people that don’t eat breakfast or drink coffee…Ya, I know)
Anyway, as we were going to my car, Jo called to me to wait. I could see her sneaking slowly through my bushy garden.
She had spotted five or six grouse sitting on her truck. They must have been drawn to the warm metal on the cool morning. I heard her say, “I wish I had my wide angle so I could get them all in”.
The first shot of the day was not an exotic eagle, but I think that a couple grouse standing on the top of he truck’s cab is pretty darned good.
Talking and laughing about the silly grouse, we drove along the winding country road that leads down to the river from my home. I slowed down when I saw a hawk taking off from a fence post beside an open field.
That hawk is always hanging around there. It must watch for mice feeding where the cows dig up the pasture. I have never been able to get a shot of it, but I slowed and Jo got out to photograph it landing on a treetop across the field.
No eagles yet.
We drove down into the gloomy smoke settled motionless in the river valley and then as slowly along the highway as the big transport trucks speeding along would let us.
One eagle. Yep, we only saw one blasted eagle on a distant tree. I pulled over onto a train crossing and ignored the “No Trespassing” sign to get close enough for Jo to get a shot. Just as she got out to position herself the big bird took off, I yelled, “shoot” and she did. One out of the three was perfect! I think that’s a good ratio. We left and continued down the highway with out seeing another eagle.
Disappointed, we turned to take the back road to my place hoping to see a few ducks at the pond I had tried unsuccessfully all spring to get photos of geese at.
The reeds along the edge blocked most of the shots. But Jo was determined, and ran across the road to photograph ten or so ducks resting on a log. By the time she got a shot there were only three left.
Well no eagles, and no more birds waiting to be photographed. We did stop for a photograph of a deer. Big deal, there are hundreds of those.
We got back to my house and as I brewed myself another cup of coffee, my never-say-die friend went out to take pictures of my chickens. Chickens.
We didn’t prove that lenses’ quality with pictures of eagles. Well one. Nevertheless, Jo got some neat bird photographs, and we had fun.
Making up a reason, like testing a lens, is a pretty good excuse to get out with your camera if you actually need one. However, I think what it is really about is being enthusiastic about photography and, of course, stimulated and excited by just about anything one points their camera at.