Our house is built 2000-2002 on a solid rock about 40 m from and 20 m above a small lake. You can see it on the aerial photo below.Already in spring 2002 two pairs of House-Martins built nests under the roof of the house. In a few years there where five pairs of them. They fed their chicken mostly with mosquitoes, but then we bought a mosquito capturing machine that attracted them with feromons and carbon dioxide (from propane gas). The number of mosquitoes decreased with 90% and the birds moved away and didn't come back. The year after came some pairs of Great tit instead and they built nests between the outer and inner layer of the roof where they foud insulation material for a comfortable "home". They have slowly increased and are now 5-6 pairs. Unlike the House-Martins these birds seems to feed basically on ants from a big pine tree close to the house.
This afternoon i was spending almost two hour observing "my" crane family. For 1 hour and 45 min I only saw the parent birds and the first chicken (No 1) hatched yesterday. Both parents acted somewhat different compared to the day before. They were more "nervous" than earlier and the male came back to the nesting swamp much more frequently.Suddenly I saw another chicken, somewhat smaller than No 1, and he/she didn't move much, and when moving the movements were slow compared to the elder sibling. I felt very happy and managed to get some photos and a couple of minutes of video before the male parent "forced" them close together and laid down on them.My equipment today was: Canon EOS 1DC with Canon EF 200-400 mm/4 L with 1.4x extender (for stills)Canon EOS 7D MkII with Tamron SP 150-600 mm/5-6.3 DI VC USD (for video 1920 x 1080p) recorded on an Atomos SHOGUN recorder.Light conditions were difficult for filming with heavy cloud frequently passing by covering the sun causing the EV to differ 2-3 steps. That's a problem with filming in Manual mode. Focusing was also conducted in manual mode and the peeking function of the Shogun is very helpful since the DOP is very narrow. When testing to shot some stills with EOS 7D MkII and the Tamron lens in AF-mode the combination is very fast and reliable. To that you have the 10 f/s frame rate and a big buffer and fast processors, making this combination an excellent tool for wildlife shooting. I'm very satisfied -only lack a 4K video possibility!Video from the last days will eventually be published on Vimeo ( I will post links!)It's very hard to get the young chicken to appear "sharp" in a photo. This is possibly due to the fact that they don't yet have normal feathers, but more like a very dens and thick "fur". This is probably very heat conserving and water "resistant". In a photo of a young chicken close to an adult crane the adults feathers look sharp while the chicken is not looking so sharp.Unfortunately I was not the only one to take interest in these birds. About a week after hatching the two chicken, one after the other disappeared. This was probably the due to the fox family with four cubs having their lair not far from the cranes.Such a pity, but I can only hope that the cranes come back next spring.
Finally, after exact 30 days one of the originally two eggs hatched and the chicken showed up for the first time.All photos below are frame grabs (from HD 1920 x 1080) since I was filming the short period the chicken was visible.
This blog post is basically from a practical comparative field test between my two long tele-zoom lenses:- Canon EF 200-400mm/4 L w. 1.4x ext.- Tamron 150-600mm/5.6The Canon lens was used on a EOS 1DC (same as 1DX when used for stills). 12 f/sThe Tamron lens was used on a EOS 7D MkII which gave it a max. focal length of 960 mm. 10 f/sAll photos are cropped to various degree.Most of them are shot with fully open iris and manual focusing.Along side with our house is a small lake which a kilometer south narrows into a stream that pass under a bridge. A couple of days (April 27th) I noticed that two white wigtails often "played" in and around the stream. I found them "amusing" and they also where a suitable object for this test. They very much acted like dippers except they were not diving in the stream water.Below you find some photos from two days of testing. One day in sunshine (1DC) and the other day in cloudy weather (7D MkII).
Last year (2014) I had the opportunity to follow a pair of cranes nesting and bringing up two healthy chicks. I followed them from late April to late August when they moved south.This year (2015) they came back about 3 weeks earlier than last year, and started nesting on almost exactly the same spot as last year. That gives me the the possibilities to study them, take photos and film them, at least until the chicks are 2-3 weeks old. After that they will move around much more in a substantially larger area. Their nest is located 60-70 meters from a small private (mine!) gravel road with barely no traffic.As long as they stay in the nest and in the area around the nest I can study them from my car which does not disturb them. So far I have not been able to step out from the car and put up a tripod, so I have to rely on a been bag for lens support. I will definitely try to leave the car and use tripod since I have two rather big and heavy tele lenses.If they (and I !) are lucky this blog post will expand until August (hopefully!).Gear for video: Canon EOS 1DC wirg EF 200-400mm/4L with 1.4x built in extender and a Shogun 4K 7" monitor/4K recorder. Video in 4K.Canon EOS 7D MkII with Tamron 150-600 mm/5-6.3 and a Ninja 2 monitor/recorder. Video in 1920x1080p.Gear for stills:Canon EOS 5D Mk III with different lenses (including these above).
Tips and trick for frame grabbing from video
In 2004 my wife and I started a rather large (160 hectar) deer park with european red deer. In order to document this park and the deer I took up photographying again. I was very interested in photography during my youth, but after beginning my work as a radiologist I only shot photos of family and on vaccations.In 2004 I decided to "go digital" and after a lot of thinking, reading reviews and so on, I decided to go with Canon EOS system and my first camera was a EOS 10D (6.3 Mpx) with a 24-135 mm and a 100-400 mm/L. Since then I have got better cameras, today using a EOS 1D C and EOS 5D MkIII. Alongside the lenses have been better ones, and since last year my absolute favorite is the 200-400 mm/4 L with 1.4X extender. I soon found an interest in the behavior of the deer. Since we have a rather big population of wild red deer, outside of our park, there were soon an lot of meetings between our deer and the wild ones. Many of these meetings are documented with photos and videos during these 10 years. The major problem in shooting these photos is that light almost all the time is low (early mornings and after sunset in the evenings). The combination of low light and long tele lenses doesn't always result in crisp, sharp images to serve the "pixel peeper" in us. But please remember that these photos primarily were meant for documentation rather than "artistic" photos. The vast majority of my deer photos are shot in or in the vicinity of our deer park, and the exeptions are marked "wild". Soon after 2004 I became ill with the well known, but devastating illness GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). During these 10 years I have bought better cameras and invested in a number of Canon lenses, mainly L-lenses. In 2009 (with EOS 5D MkII) I started video filming, and today I probably film more than I take photos. I have learned that it takes a lot of time to go over to video. Today I film and shoot stills mainly with a Canon EOS 1D C and since last summer the EF 200-400mm/4L with built in 1.4x extender has become my favorite lens. I plan to write another blog about this lens later. The 1DC is a very fast camera (12-14 f/s), but it is very noisy. Having wild animals close the sound of the shutter end mirror tends to scare them away. In a blog (Philip Bloom et al) I learned about the possibility to take frame grabs from video produced with this camera. These "stills" is about 8.2 Mpx (was good enough in 2005!!!), and if filmed with short enough shutter speed they present good enough print up to A3 format. Perhaps not good enough for "pixel peepers"! Since filming is totally silent it doesn't scare the animals. I have added an album with 2 frame grabs in the Canon group and on my own page. Setting a short shutter speed ( e.g. 1/500 s) can give you excellent "stills" 24/25 f/s, but the video will be bad with a lot of stutter. Not at all pleasant to watch! But it is an alternative to 12 noisy f/s. The jay bird in album Birds is a frame grab from a 4K video and it´s shot at 1/50 s.