7D Mark ii and 100-400 mark ii review Day 1: Pheasants

Let me start off by saying it is WAY too early to jump to any conclusions about my new combination of a Canon 7D Mark ii and a Canon 100-400mm IS mark ii.  I have 15 days to keep or return it.  This morning I headed out in 3 degrees, -20 wind chill looking for a one of my Snowy Owls.  I figured if I could catch on a pole or post I could do a side by side comparison.  No luck on the Snowy Owls, but I did find 14 Male Pheasants.

Pheasants aren’t native to Illinois or even America.  They were introduced from Asia into the United States as a game bird, they took hold and strived!

I was going to strip off all info and have you guess which camera took which photo, but I’ll do that later.

Pheasants with the new Canon 7D mark ii + 100-400mm IS mark iiKJ7D8746-FrameShop KJ7D8749-FrameShop KJ7D8755-FrameShop These are farm raised in pens and then released into a state park for hunters.  This poor guy doesn’t have any tail feathers!  I am guessing they were picked off from other birds in the pen, but maybe he froze his a$$ off 🙂KJ7D8775-FrameShop KJ7D8786-FrameShop KJ7D8792-FrameShop Couple from the trusty Canon 1DX and 500mm f4 IS Prime.PBKJ9573-FrameShop PBKJ9576-FrameShop

 

I am headed to the river to see how this combination handle my Eagles and birds in flight.  I was going to micro adjust the pair, but after today I am going to wait on that step.

What do you think so far?

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Thanks for stopping by, Life is good, and I am blessed!
Kent

Lock & Dam 14 Mississippi River Bald Eagle Fishing Sequence

Last Friday 2/7/14 was a perfect day for me at Lock and Dam 14. I am guessing 80 to 100 photographers were there. I arrived around 10:30 am negative 9 degrees (-9), warmed up to a balmy 14 when I left 6 1/2 hours later. The action was non stop 1297 activations. I have TONS to edit, I even had to back up because I was clipping too many wings with the 500mm. Several of the local guys I know over there switched to 70-200mm. I didn’t take mine that day, so I was forced to stay with the 1DX and my trusty 500mm.

Have I told anybody lately how pleased I am with my Canon 1DX purchase and my 500mm pairing!!!!

A complete fishing series of 8 captured at 14 FPS. This was one of the first time I have witness an adult miss the fish. L&D 14 has taken some heat lately for baiting but I was there both Friday 2/7 and Saturday 2/8 in the snow and I witnessed NO baiting.

AV8O6531 2-FrameShop AV8O6532 2-FrameShop AV8O6533 2-FrameShop AV8O6534 2-FrameShop AV8O6535Cover-FrameShop AV8O6536 2-FrameShop AV8O6537 2-FrameShop AV8O6538 2-FrameShop

 

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Kent

Eagles / Birds in Flight: How to, Tips and Tricks

Tons of people have asked how I am getting the high quality Eagle Photos, so I will focus this post on giving out all most of my secrets!

To get shots like this, lets walk through the steps.

Copyright: PhotosByJarrett {2010-2014}

Know your gear:  I can’t begin to tell you how many people ask me a question in the field and I gladly give them answer, but then don’t know how to adjust their own camera.  I am a Canon shooter and all setting and screen shots will be Canon.  Nikon have all the same settings, you will just have to hunt for them.

Camera Settings:

  • Shutter Speeds = 1/1600 or higher.  At 1/1250 you will still get some wing blur.
  • ISO = 400 to 800.  Some high-end camera’s can go faster, but be careful for noise.
  • Aperture = high as possible, I like to shot at f 7.1 or 8
  • Depending on light I shoot in Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority.
  • Fastest continual shutter speed your camera will drive. (Drive Mode)
  • Exposure Settings.  It is so easy to “Blow” out an Eagles white heads and tail feathers!
    • Adjust your EV settings in the field as needed and even as the light changes.
    • I will shoot as high as + 1 & 2/3 on a cloudy day.

Advanced Camera Settings:
In order to track a flying bird, slow down your auto-focus tracking sensitivity to as SLOW are you can get it.  This will prevent other things that pop in and out of your frame from grabbing focus.  It also helps to speed up focusing.

On my Canon 1 DX I use setting #2

Micro Adjustment of telephoto lens:

I use a wooden ruler as a cheaper way to do this.

Camera Stabilization: 
I find myself using three different types.

Tripod with a full Gimbal Head: this is what most of the serious guys use.  My camera and lens combo is right at 14 pounds, so it gets heavy.

Gimbal Head

 

Monopod: I find that for most situations this works best for me.  I use a Really Right Stuff Head on my monopod.  This allows me to move more easy and I have way better luck tracking birds in flight.

LCE_2014_6806_Crop

Thanks Sriti for the use of your photo.

BushHawk:  I use this for when I want to hand hold.  It is great for faster moving birds and high fly overs that you can’t track with the Gimbal.

Bush Hawk

OK, so are we finally ready to hit the field?  I use this website to track the Eagles on the Mississippi to see where they are gathering at.  The public can get the closest to the Eagles at Lock & Dam 14 just South of Le Claire Iowa.

Practice:

  • The pros say to expect keeper rate of 1 out of a 100.
  • First time out I shot over 2,000 to get 38.
  • Practice on common birds, so when you special bird comes along you will be able to increase your chances.
  • If shooting eagles, gulls are great to practices on, and set your white balance.

Know your Subject:

  • Mostly birds land into the wind and always fish into the wind.
  • Most birds will launch into the wind.
  • Use your natural light
    • East side of a river in the morning
    • West side of the river in the afternoon
  • Flashes tend to turn the birds
    • Some use “Better Beamer” extenders
  • Blue skies with clouds provides nice backgrounds!

Back Button Focus: will really help with your keeper rate and not ending up with unwanted photos.

Back Button Focus

Top Ten Tips:

Tip #1: Watch your composition.
Tip #2: Adjust your elevation.
Tip #3: Adjust your camera settings.
Tip #4: Use the user programmable modes.
Tip #5: Shoot away from the sun.
Tip #6: Shoot in short bursts of 2 or 3 images.
Tip #7: Don’t skimp on depth-of-field.
Tip #8: Shoot with both eyes open.
Tip #9: Pay attention to the background.
Tip #10: Don’t skimp on Image Stabilization.
Post Processing:
This is the biggest area I still need improvement and am working on.  I am trying to leverage and follow most of these steps.  I will say, as a rule Less is More!

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Kent

Recap of the last 3 days shooting Eagles at Lock and Dam 14 (1/1, 1/2, 1/3)

Wednesday I was told to get out of the house so Sharon could take down all the Christmas decorations.  By the time I got to L&D 14, it was a driving snow storm.  There were some eagles working, but the snow really messed with the focus and sharpness of the photos.

Thursday was the best day with a west wind which meant head on fishing!

Friday, the day started out at -9 degrees with 20 – 25MPH winds. Wind chill was -30 at least. It made the water really rough and the eagles struggled to lock onto fish. Since I already got lucky this year with several full frame fishing sequences, I am trying to focus in getting an in air fight series. Saw a few fights, but WAY out.  Every time there was 2 or 3 birds close to each other I started tracking, just practicing my framing and back button focusing.  Every once in a while my shutter finger would slip and click off a couple.

Here are some fruits of my labor from 1/1, 1/2, and 1/3.

As always C&C is welcomed, and I’ll be headed back on Saturday the 11th for Larry’s Annual cookout.

all Iced Up In Air Fight A Pair in Front of Bridge The Chase A Pair Wing Clipped Juvi Successful Juvi Three Winged Eagle Had to include One Fishing Shot

 

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Kent

Eagles and the Canon 1DX

Well, I finally pulled the trigger and got the best Canon body made.  I received my new 1DX the Wednesday before Christmas.  I got it early for Eagles.  Then the weather turned cold which made the eagles 3 to 4 weeks ahead of schedule.  They are already South of the Quad Cities.  I wanted more time to get used to the body before going into battle, but I went into battle with a one night crash course!

Here are a few series of Fishing Eagles.

Copyright: PhotosByJarrett {2010-2014}

 

Click on each photo below to see full resolution.

Paper Prints, Canvas Wraps, Metallic, and Digital Downloads.

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Kent