Friday, 28 November 2014

Great Grey Shrike and Canon 7D mk 2

For some of you this is old news but since my last posting I have been into hospital and had the salivary gland plus it's resident stone removed leaving me with a 2.5 inch cut and I daresay scar but overall things went well, I didn't suffer any nerve damage to the nerve that controls the left side of my mouth so I can jabber away just like I used to. Whilst I felt pretty fragile for a week or so I am now feeling pretty good; better in fact than for 4 months (the time it's taken to get the problem sorted).
To aid my recovery I invested in the Canon 7D mk 2. The on-line reviews seemed good and Steve Ashton and Mike Gould seemed to think it did what was advertised so in I jumped. The camera only arrived Monday afternoon so my experience with it to date is limited.
Straight out of the box I slapped my 400mm f5.6 on it and fired off a few shots Ahhhhhh......they were rubbish. So it was out with the ruler at 45 degrees to check the focusing. Same as with my old 7D - it was front focusing (so is probably the lens and not the camera that was at fault) - so it was time to locate the AF microadjustment. A quick look suggested the degree of correction required was very similar to before at +7.
The next day I spent a little time at Restharrow trying out the tracking - which is superb,  and the focus array options - which I'm still trying to work out. What I will say is that once it has locked onto a subject (ie flying bird) it does stay on it superbly my only problem is that with the wider arrays of focusing points I have no control of where it actually focuses and it's as likely to be the wing tip as the birds head/beak/eye. Still if it was easy.............
On the noise front I was hoping for an improvement and I've got one. Thus far I would say that ISO 800 with the mk 2 is similar to ISO 400 with the mk 1 but there may be more to come in that ignoring the noise controls the amount of noise is very dependent on the "Threshold" selected on the DPP sharpening tool. Certainly the shots I've taken at ISO 800-1000 have been usable with only the minimum of work (and this was before finding the "Threshold" adjustment).

Now for the shrike.
Today was the third time I've gone to see it. The first was a couple of days after my op and I was too tired to hang around waiting so I missed it when it returned for the afternoon. The second time was a week after the op and I dropped in on the way to the William Harvey (to have the stitches removed) and again on the way back but it was a no show for most of the day so I missed it again.
Today I arrived around 8.45, it was cloudy and murky but Ron (I've forgotten his surname) had been there since dawn and pointed it out in the hedgerow adjacent to the playing field. Tick achieved; now the wait for it to come close and hopefully for the sun to come out.
Around 9.00 it came out of the hedge and flew into the large hawthorn by the stream (on the Canterbury side of the bridge). Ron got his scope on it and saw that it was ripping a mouse/vole apart that it had impaled there - I'm sure it had nothing in it's beak when it flew across so this must have been an earlier kill. The shots I got were rubbish but here's one for the record:

Mouse breakfast...yummmy
It stayed there for 10-15 minutes then moved further away to another bush by the stream then onto the top of a small dead tree that was quite close (relatively) to where the stream goes under the A28. I went off to see how close it was. The answer was closer but still not close and the traffic flying past and lack of pavement meant it was not a comfortable place to be. Still I fired off a number of shots and got quite enthusiastic as the sky started clearing.
Whilst there I tried a few changes to the micro adjustment ranging from +7 to +10 but ended up at +8.

It stayed there looking around and attacking the top of a twig for about 15 minutes then at 9.30 it flew to the wires by the Branch road bridge. I was actually relieved to get off the A28.

Caught in the act!

The distance to the bird was very similar to that I had from the A28 but at least I wasn't dicing with death. After a while it flew off and when I refound it it was in the row of bushes over towards the Bagham road. From there it went back into the playing field hedge where it stayed for quite some time though at one point it was on a post in the middle of the field then in the hedge quite close to the playing field pavilion.

Trying to look innocent

Then I lost sight of  and was scanning the distant hedges when some people who just turned up pointed out it was right above me on the wires (I was down by the pavilion where the wires are closer to the road). Fill your boots time the only problem being wires don't make great pictures.

It continued to fiddle about in it's original hawthorn bush, tried chasing a couple of long tailed tits who seemed to want to torment it after it had failed and even chased a snipe but eventually it returned to the wires near the Branch road bridge. The light was now brilliant but those wires are further away than you think.

On it's way back to a distant hedge

All in all a pretty pleasing morning.
A bit of sun, the bird came close, a few people to chat to, (though I'm left wondering whether Mark threw his camera into the river as he threatened) and even Mr Ashton couldn't spoil the fun - despite phoning me every time he drove past along the A28 in his truck..........and his tooting of his horn as he went past.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog Steve good to see you out and about again after the op and pleased you seem to be feeling better now that the stiches are out (and the lump of calcium) and the effect of the anti biotics are disappearing. Seems that you are getting to grips with that new toy and delivering some quality shots at unheard of ISOs