Tag Archives: turtle

Hatch And Release At Padre Island National Seashore

On Their Way To The Sea

I’m a little slow about getting back into the swing of things these past couple of weeks.  I was in Washington State where I spent a week visiting my sister and her family and then a week in Mount Rainier National Park.  While this was going on, the National Parks Traveler published a photo story I wrote about my experience photographing a Kemp’s ridley hatchling release up close and in person, during a few days spent at Padre Island National Seashore back in early June.  It was a wonderful, uplifting event and I want to share it here with you readers.  Click on the photo to be taken to the article.

 

 

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Filed under Events, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography

An Early Summer Visit to Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Becky At Padre Island National Seashore

It seems like only yesterday, instead of 2 months ago, that I visited this national seashore southwest of my home.  I drive the 3 hours back down there last week (June 6-10) on assignment with the National Parks Traveler to photograph at least one public release of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.   It was a wonderful experience and I’ve written a couple of articles about this trip that will be published on the Traveler’s site.  I’ll let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of what I saw and experienced at Padre Island National Seashore in the early summer.

Moon Sky Stars Sand

A full moon, starry sky and sandy beach at Padre Island National Seashore.

Pre-Dawn Sky

Taking in the vast view.

Just Before The Sunrise

Looking northeast along the beach, just before sunrise.

Looking South Before The Sunrise

Looking southeast.  That barricade you see on the upper far right is the divider between the pedestrian-only portion of the seashore (where I was standing) and the pedestrian/vehicle portion of the seashore, which is basically the rest of the national seashore, all 60 miles of it.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Closeup Sunrise

A pelican-kind of morningOn Their Way To The Sea

En route to the Gulf of Mexico

About The Size Of A GoPro

A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchling “swimming” across the sandy beach to get to the water of the Gulf of Mexico.  These little guys are smaller than a GoPro action cam.

Looking Down On The Hatchling Release

Standing atop a dune on this morning, overlooking a hatchling release.  There were about 400 people at the public hatchling release, that day.  The next day after this, there were 860 attendees (weekends are usually more-attended).

A Little Bit Of Sunshine

Another sunny day at Padre Island National Seashore

 

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Texas, Travel, Uncategorized, wildlife

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling Release

Itty Bitty

Part of a video I captured while photographing a release of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings is included in this National Parks Traveler article. I’ll be writing a much longer article for the Traveler in the coming weeks.  Click on the photo to be taken to the article and video.

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Filed under 1DX, 5DS, Canon, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Uncategorized

A Short (and Unscientific) Review of Tamron’s New 150-600mm Lens for Canon Mount

Canon 1DX and Tamron 150-600

The Canon 1DX  and Tamron 150-600mm lens

Because this Tamron 150-600mm lens is so new, Lensrentals didn’t have it in stock for my original reservation date. So, I told them to send it when they could. One week later, it was in my hot little hands. Here’s my take on this brand new lens.

The Tamron 150-600mm  lens retails for $1069 at BH Photo and at Adorama and is available for Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts.  Right now (well, as of Feb 15), you can only pre-order the lens here in the USA.

Out of the box:

  • It weighs .03 lbs less than the Sigma 50-500mm, so both are equal in terms of heft.
  • When I first received the lens, I discovered that the lock switch did not work at the 600mm focal length. A Lensrentals tech told me that the lock switch was there only to work at the 150mm focal length to make sure the lens didn’t accidentally move out to a longer length while one was carrying the lens on their shoulder.  Really?   I should think the lock switch is supposed to work at any focal length, and not just the 150mm focal length. I may hate the locking mechanism on my Canon 100-400 but at least it works at all of the focal lengths.
  • If you have microfocus adjustment on your camera, test the lens to make sure the focus is hitting like it should. On my 1DX, it was spot-on. On my Canon 5D Mk III, it was front-focusing.

A Day at the Park

I took my Canon 1DX and this lens out for a morning spin at Brazos Bend State Park, located about halfway between my home and Houston. Btw, mornings are the best time to go out there for birdlife and for few-to-no crowds. I made a return trip later in the day and the place was packed. I got out of the car, looked at all the people and then at the full parking lot at one of my favorite stops, got back in the car and came home.   As I was exiting the park, I looked over to the entrance and saw a long line of cars waiting to get in.  No thank you.

How did this lens do?

As far as image resolution – and this is my opinion only, based upon my own photographic results – I believe this lens is as good as or better than the Sigma 50-500.  I kept the f-stop between 8 – 10 because I’d read other reviews indicating sharpness was better achieved at these apertures (same as with the reviews I’d read about the Sigma lens).   Had it been an overcast day rather than the gorgeous, sunny day that it was, my ISO would have moved from 500 up to probably 1000 – 2000.  As it was, I kept my ISO between 250-500 depending upon the light at any one spot.  My shutter speeds ranged between 200 – 800.

After reviewing the magnified images on my camera’s LCD screen, I was ready to throw in the towel concerning this lens.  Then, when I got the photos downloaded to my computer and I could get a better look at them, I was blown away at the sharpness. Yet another lesson to me that I should never quite trust what I see magnified on my camera’s LCD screen in terms of resolution clarity.

(Note:  To see high-res versions of these low-res uploads, click on each image)

Ibis

The original, cropped a little to get rid of extraneous stuff.  Only adjustments were my normal curves and sharpening – things I apply to all of my images so nothing else special was done

Ibis

65% crop of the original

BUT…. while this lens produces very nice images, it still has some quirks.

Focusing…..Oy Vey

I’d read other reviews about this lens having an issue with tracking and focusing. Yup. I had problems myself, but I don’t think to quite the extent that some reviewers experienced. Tamron didn’t do such a great job with the focus tracking, and I had a difficult time trying to get the lens to focus on anything in motion. Out of all of the photos I took while tracking movements of the birds, maybe 2 or 3 were in-focus. And I was using a Wimberley gimbal tripod head to keep things steady. I highly doubt I would have gotten those 2 or 3 decent shots had I tried to hand-hold the lens even with image stabilization engaged.  The Sigma 50-500 was much,  much better at tracking action images like birds in flight.

And speaking of focus, I discovered that it’s practically non-existent if using any of the focus points other than the ones in the middle of the screen. My 1DX has multi-focus points, and I sometimes use different points whenever I am in Servo Mode because the part on which I want to focus (like the eyes) may be in the far left, far right, upper or lower portion of the image;  to have moved the focus smack dab in the middle of the composition would have cut out a part of the subject.

Aside from the items above, focus – as long as I used the middle focal points – worked just fine and was relatively quick.

Image Stabilization (VC)

Because I kept the camera and lens on a tripod, I didn’t really use image stabilization except a couple of times. It’s just different from what I am used to with my Canon lenses.  At least the image stabilization with Tamron is not so jumpy and unpredictable as with the Sigma 50-500.

A Couple of Questions:

  1. Do I think this a good lens to use for sports (or any other type of fast action like birds in flight or bears battling for a prime spot at Brooks Falls)? No, not at this point in time. Won’t be until Tamron gets their focus tracking issues fixed – if they ever do  (Tamron, I hope you are reading this post).
  2. Would I purchase this lens for my own uses? Hell yeah! I’m gonna get one….AFTER waiting awhile in the hope that Tamron gets all that focus stuff fixed. It’s a fantastic lens for getting stationary or reeeeaallllly slow-moving shots, but not so much for the faster action.

Ibis In The Tree

Little Blue Heron

Soakin Up The Rays

Gator

This lens doesn’t quite match the resolution output of a Canon prime, but like the Sigma 50-500, it’s an affordable option. Since my credit scores are not quite to the point that I could attempt to take out a loan for the Canon 600mm, this Tamron 150-600 (when the focus problems hopefully get ironed out) will be a great alternative.

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Filed under birds, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Equipment, nature, Parks, Photography, Tamron 150-600

An 80-Degree Winter at Brazos Bend State Park

You wouldn’t think it’s winter down here in southeast Texas.   It’s been in the upper 70’s (Fahrenheit) for the past few days.  Foggy in the morning, sunny and bright by mid-morning lasting into the evening.  Yesterday, it was 80 degrees.

I get every other Friday off.  During those Fridays, I generally don’t like to go anywhere (except on vacation, that is).  However, I’d scheduled a bone density test for this particular Friday off, so I decided I’d take along my cameras and spend time after the appointment at a state park to which I’d never been.

Well, I’ve still never been to that state park, and probably won’t ever get there.  You see, Google Map’s directions are not always spot-on.  I managed to get lost and spent the remainder of the morning never finding the park. But, I did see a lot of new area around the outskirts of Houston which I’d never seen before.  I’ve read that seeing new places helps your brain’s neurons (or whatever) create new pathways, which in turn keeps you from getting age-related dementia too soon.  So I guess the morning wasn’t a total waste.

By the time I finally found a highway that would take me home, I decided I might as well drive out to familiar ground instead of going back to my apartment.  So I found myself showing the park ranger my annual Texas State Park pass and I spent a few hours at 40-Acre Lake in Brazos Bend State Park.

H5T1290_Ibis

H5T1377_Turtles Reflection

H5T1418_Great Egret - Vertical

H5T1467_Leading Lines

H5T1549_Friday Afternoon Fishing

The weather was unbelievable.  For  a winter’s day, people were out in shorts and t-shirts.  There still wasn’t much bird life, but the American alligators were sunning themselves in numbers.

H5T1385_Sunning

H5T1403_Alligator Face

Becky was out sunning herself too.  Oh, and I was also testing my new Giga Pro T II wireless remote by Hahnel.

U9A7631_Becky at Brazos Bend

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, nature, Parks, Photography, Texas, wildlife

Blue Face, Green “Hair”

Blue Face, Green "Hair"

I was walking around Creekfield Lake at Brazos Bend State Park, this past Saturday (5/19/12). I stopped at the viewing/fishing pier stretching out into the lake, and pointed my camera down toward the water just as this blue-faced turtle was surfacing. The green stuff on his shell gracefully waved like hair underwater. Just as quickly as this guy (or gal) surfaced, it dove back beneath the water and I was lucky enough to have captured this image before it disappeared.

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, nature, Parks, Photography, Texas