In early July, 2015 together with David Tipling I went on a 5 day trip to the Catalonia region of Spain where we were guided by Photo Logistics. We made our own travel arrangements flying into Barcelona where we picked up a hire car and had a 3 hour drive to Montgai where we were met by Roger one of the directors of Photo Logistics. This was a fairly new experience for me as in all the years that I have been photographing wildlife I have only once used a commercial/paying hide, this was almost 10 years ago in Finland for Golden Eagle when sadly we were not successful! So why now with Photo Logistics, two reasons, firstly David T knew both of the directors of Photo Logistics, Roger and Carles and had a very positive previous experience using their hides. Secondly two of the many species they had on offer were Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, two birds that I had seen before but not well and would love to photograph. I knew that without assistance my chances of photographing either species well was highly unlikely.
Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse at water hole, Spain
Roger had arranged our accommodation close to where we were to photograph the Sandgrouse which was very comfortable and only 25 euros a night. Up at 0500 hours we were met and driven to the hide by Roger which was spacious and comfortably seated 3 photographers. At this point I will mention that like many other commercial hides you are shooting through one way glass!… Read more
Until recently I had never used the micro adjustment facility that has been available on all of my more recent Canon DSLR cameras as I have always felt that all my camera/lens combinations produced sharp results. However that changed when I purchased the Canon 7D MkII which with a number of lenses in particular my Canon EF 300mm f2.8L USM IS II both with and without extenders and my EF 400mm f5.6L produced unacceptably soft images. My first thought was to return my camera as never having had this problem before I thought the camera was faulty! On discussing my problem with friends and looking on the internet I quickly discovered that quite a few owners of the 7D MkII and for that matter other cameras were also finding they were getting soft images from lenses they knew were sharp and in many cases were able to correct this with lens calibration using the cameras micro adjustment! As a result I carried out a number of tests using the micro adjustment and manually adjusted it to get acceptably sharp results with both of these lenses and extender combinations.
Some time later I was discussing the problem with Anthony Sinfield, a colleague in the photographic industry, and told him I felt I needed to make further adjustments as I felt my images weren’t quite as sharp as they should be. Anthony suggested that I let him calibrate my lenses as he had the pro version FoCal which would take any guess work out of calibrating my lenses.… Read more
This will be the shortest review I have ever written as you are able to see for yourself how good or bad you think my web site is, but please bear in mind that the design and layout are what I asked for and probably not what GBW would have presented as the finished product. However during it’s construction I was kept informed of it’s progress and advised if they felt something I had asked for was not going to work! To sum up I am very pleased with the finished product and the competitive price I paid. Obviously you don’t have to design your own layout, you just tell them what you want the website to do for you and they will do the rest!
For me the best part of GBW is that it is owned and run by just two people Christian and Debbie and you will enjoy a very personal experience if you use their services and the after sales is second to none with both of them being only an e-mail or phone call away!
This is just a short review giving my opinion on how well this lens performs in the real world. Having owned the EF 300mm f2.8L IS USM for 5 years and having been really pleased with its all round performance I decided to upgrade.
Similar in appearance to its predecessor the most noticeable change is the tripod mount which is now integrated and not removeable like the old version. This has resulted in much smoother and more positive rotation of the lens when mounted on a tripod. However most of the other major changes are internal and include completely redesigned optics with improved coatings, faster and more accurate AF system and improved image stabilization which is now 4 stops instead of 2. A third IS mode has also been added to assist when switching between subjects when the IS is only activated during exposure. The lens is also 200g lighter.
I will only comment on the three issues that are important to me as a wildlife photogrpher.
Perhaps the least important for me is the IS as it is rare for me to hand hold this lens and if I do it is for birds in flight when I always switch the IS off (improves speed and accuracy of the AF system). If you think about it when panning with a bird in flight, the panning action negates any up and down movement. So for me the only time IS for birds in flight when hand holding the lens might assist is when the bird is flying directly at you.… Read more
For many photographers the weight of the equipment they have to carry can be a problem and this is especially true of wildlife photographers who often carry a wide variety of lenses and a spare camera body.
In the past if I leave home with my Canon 500mm f4 or 300mm f 2.8 in my bag then my camera support would nearly always be my 3 series carbon fibre Gitzo tridod and my Wimberley MkII gimbal head which I find a little on the heavy side if I have to walk very far. When I really need to travel light I often take my Canon 300mm f2.8 plus extenders which I mount on a 2 series Gitzo carbon fibre tripod and Gitzo GH2781 ball head. I have however never been happy with the later combination as in use I frequently find the ball head ends up leaning over to one side which I have to compensate for by turning the camera and lens using the lens tripod collar and your entire set up ends up hopelessly off balance and increasingly more difficult to use. You then have to stop what you are doing and straighten everything up.
For me Acratech have just helped with these problems with their Long Lens Head – you could argue it is the only tripod head you will ever need being almost at home with a 600mm f4 mounted on it as a 100mm macro. I watched the impressive Acratech Long Lens Head tutorial but questioned would it be rigid enough for me with my 500mm f4 mounted on it.… Read more
Allway Sync is a file synchronization program which will enable you to syncronize your data between PC’s, Laptops, External Hard Drives, Servers, Online Data Storage and much more.
I use it to backup images contained in multiple folders on 2 of the 4 drives in my computer and these are backed-up to x3 (2TB) external WD hard drives via USB 3.0. The software allows you to synchronize your files automatically as changes take place or at times specified by you or at any time you want. The way in which you backup your data is very much down to you with multiple choices available.
This software not only saves me time but makes sure all my chosen files are backed-up whereas in the past using manual backup I have made mistakes and not backed-up the odd image.
My only negative comment (please bear in mind I am far from an expert in many areas of computing) is the instructions for setting up the interface for me were not that easy to follow. Fortunately I have a friend who also uses the program and he set it up for me in about 5 minutes.
Like many hard drive manufacturers my x3 WD external hard drives all came with backup software included but this only allows you to backup to 1 external drive with many other limitations.
For less than $20 Allway Sync gives you reliable backup software that works.
I always look forward to using new and innovative software but coming from an era that did not have computer studies on the curriculum I often find that using and understanding everything new programs have to offer a slow process. In the past I have purchased training manuals but I frequently find these difficult to follow. For me by far the easiest way to learn new software is by video, when I will run the training video on my laptop whilst working with the program on my desktop.
The range of videos video2brain have to offer on Adobe Lightroom 4 and CS6 is second to none with numerous courses, different levels of subscription or just paying for individual training videos of which many are Adobe approved courseware. To date I have only purchased two of their products:
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Learn by Video presented by Kelly McCathran
Adobe Lightroom 4 Image Optimization Workshop presented by Tim Grey
Both of these videos are excellent, easy to follow and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Learn by Video being exceptional value with over 14 hours of training for under £30 at www.amazon.co.uk
Many of video2brain training videos are not available in the UK and only available directly from their website.
I will not go into detail about what each video can offer as you will get a far better insight by visiting the video2brain website where you can download and watch lessons from every training video they offer before you commit yourself.
I know that there are numerous free training tutorials available on YouTube not least from Adobe but it is so much more convenient to have them all in one place and presented by recognised experts in their field.… Read more
There are many reviews to be found of the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets on the web and all are in agreement that these little binoculars are excellent and punch well above their weight. Like many reviews in most cases the reviewer doesn’t actually own a pair but has them loaned to them for a week or so for the purpose of the review. However in my case after trying them in store at Clifton Cameras I purchased a pair and have been using them for about 4 months!
Like all other reviewers I found the Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets to be optically excellent, well constructed and very easy on the eye. This is nothing less than you would expect from Swarovski but for me the stand out feature was how good they felt in the hand and how well they handled compared to previous 8×20 binoculars I have owned. Previously I have never felt comfortably using miniature/pocket binoculars as they don’t sit well in the hand and the focus wheels are awkward and fiddly! As a result in the field I find them more difficult to align instinctively with your subject and slow and fiddly to focus which often results in your subject disappearing before you have focused on it! The Swarovski CL 8×25 Pockets go a long way towards addressing these issues and feel much more like a pair of 8×32 than a pair of 8×20! Being that little bit bigger than most 8×20 binoculars they sit nicely in the hand and the focus wheel is perfectly positioned for use with your forefinger.… Read more
I purchased FotoMagico 4 as friends had told me they found it much easier to use than Keynote when putting together Slide Presentations on your Mac and like in Keynote I also wanted a program that would allow me to view my notes on my Macbook that would not be visible to my audience.
I have been playing around with the program for a few weeks now and coming from a generation when computer studies were not on the school curriculum I generally find new software difficult to master. However I have found FotoMagico 4 for the most part very easy to understand. It has an excellent interface which is very intuative and easy to follow making pan and zoom quick and easy to achieve. Adding audio, transitions and video could not be simpler and now with layers and masks you can add up to 6 layers of photos, videos or text with complete control over opacity for that layer. When finished you can save your presentation in numerous formats like You Tube, Vimeo and iPhone to name a few.
This program was designed by photographers for photographers and for ease of use in preparing a professional slide presentation for me it is the best program available for Mac users.
If you wish to know more click on this link FotoMagico 4… Read more
I have been shooting wildlife images for approximately 30 years, professionally for 13 years and digitally since April, 2004 when I purchased the Canon 1D MkII. Since then I have used a number of Canon DSLRs including the Canon 1D MkIII, Canon 40D and Canon 5D MkII which I wouldn’t be without.
This is not an in depth review (if you want this take a look at www.dpreview.com) but the initial views of a working photographer on the cameras AF system and file quality. Following the controversy that surrounded its predecessors AF system my first thoughts were how well would this perform. Birds in flight must be one of the biggest challenges any cameras AF system has to cope with as their flight is often erratic with sudden changes in speeed and direction. Couple with this their small size compared to a sportsman or racing car and you will soon appreciate that when it comes to speed and accuracy of the AF system there is little or no room for error. If it can work well in this environment I think it is safe to say it will be fine for almost any application.
For this test I took a trip to Gigrin Farm at Rhayader in Wales where they have a Red Kite (very agile bird of prey) feeding station where once feeding starts you have almost 2 hours of non-stop action. My Canon 1D Mk1V was used together with a Canon 500mm f4L USM IS lens (EF 1.4x extender used occasionally) which in turn was mounted on a Gitzo 3 series carbon fibre tripod and Wimberley Head version II.… Read more