A Few Birds and other Critters from south Texas

pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooterwestern IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator
edited October 24, 2021 in Wildlife

My wife and I spent the last week of September at the Santa Clara Ranch with Lisa LaPointe of Muench Workshops, and Hector Astorga of the Santa Clara Ranch, photographing birds, deer, rabbits, javalina, and Mexican ground squirrels from very nicely designed and cared for photographic blinds. The blinds were designed with careful appreciation of the sun and estimated time of days use. Almost all of our images were shot from cameras mounted on Wimberley type tripods heads. While I find Wimberley mounts often limiting in the field, when shooting from blinds, they did not restrict our range of motion anymore than the blind itself did, so they just helped support the weight of our gear.

I shot almost all of my images with a Canon 1DX Mk II body and a Tamron 150-600 G2 lens or a Canon EOS 200-400 IS L with a built in 1.4 TC, or my Canon R5 body and the Canon RF 100-500mm f5-7.1 IS L. So these images will allow one to compare the ~ 20 Mpxl 1Dx Mk II files with the 45 Mpxl R5 images. I found both systems provided excellent captures if I just did my part, and the light wasn't too low. All images displayed here will be images linked from my Smugmug site where one can see the image data and the tools used to capture the images. All images have been edited, and may have been strongly cropped in the image editing, performed by me in Lightroom.

I have thousands of frames captured with my Tamron 150-600 G2 lens over the years, and it still seems to fare reasonably well even when compared to my Canon EF 200-400 L IS if one is aware of heat dispersion over hot foreground or asphalt in some of my images shot before the workshop began. The R5 with the RF100-500 was stunningly sharp and well delineated, most of my small birds were captured with it and it was a delight to use. Light, short, and cracking AF.

I expected to see a few cara caras in south Texas, I have photographed them several times in south Florida, but I was quite surprised at the large number we would see at the ranch - literally dozens and dozens. Harris hawks were new to me, but we saw dozens and dozens of them as well.

This split tailed flycatcher was one of the first birds we saw along the backcountry Texas farm to market roads - 1DX Mk II with Tamron 150-600 G2, this is a significant crop

We saw its lots of juvenile and adult cara caras - this juvenile captured with the same body and lens as above

Here is another cara cara - same 1DX Mk II and Tamron 150-600 G2 lens

Here is a male cardinal, captured by my R5 and the RF 100-500

Here is a green jay bathing and making a bit of a commotion, R5 with RF 100-500 again

Doe drinking at the water pool with the R5 and 100-500

Here is a similar image from the 1DX Mk II with the EF 200-400 +TC

Here is a javalina being ridden by a green jay with the 1DX Mk II

Here are a pair of Mexican ground squirrels caught with the R5 and the RF 100-500

All of my images can be seen here - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Animals/A-Few-Birds-in-south-Texas-/

Comments and critiques of my images are heartily encouraged.

Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin

Comments

  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,666 moderator
    edited October 30, 2021

    Terrific stuff, Jim. I also went to your gallery and viewed every picture a few times. Looks like you had a really great trip and got some good variety.

    Try as I might, I could not tell the difference between the 1DXMKII and the R5 shots. Both are tack sharp, beautiful colors and great background blur. I tested my guesses by looking at the EXIF data.

    This one I guessed right. It had to be the R5, and it was.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator
    edited October 30, 2021

    Thanks for your comments, Joel. And looking to carefully compare the images from a 20 Mpxl camera and those from a 45 Mpxl camera.

    The R5 can be sharper at times, but its glass might be slightly more limiting than the 200-400 since it was a smaller aperture and just a bit shorter. Almost all of the images are significantly cropped. Image noise is lower with the R5, especially above ISO 3200 or so. but both devices allow us the freedom to photograph in places that we could not have just a few years ago. I look at my safari images from 2011 and am mildly dismayed at how they compare to modern cameras. Many were shot with a 7D.

    One other thing I noted, is that my Tamron 150-600 G2 lens looks pretty credible, even against the Canon 200-400+TC. I get a few images that are less sharp with the Tamron lens now and then, but many of them are due to shooting low, through hot rising air near the Earth's surface, like my images of the vultures with the rattle snake carcass on the sun heated asphalt highway in my gallery of these images.

    Here's another small bird with the R5 - I am not sure why Smugmug reports the lens as the Canon RF 100->55,** OR** the RF 100-5-00 + 1.4 TC ** OR** the RF 100-500 + the 2X TC. All my R5 images with that lens are so tagged on Smugmug - but NOT in my metadata that I see in Lightroom classic. ??? I do not own either of the RF teleconverters yet. Dropping one or two stops of light with an f7.1 lens is not really appealing to me.

    I decided, after this trip, that 25 Mpxls is more than adequate, so I fully committed to Canon's new format, and ordered the R3. Hopefully, it will arrive before Christmas.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,666 moderator
    edited November 7, 2021

    Absolutely gorgeous, the bird is coming right out of the frame. FYI, my browser EXIF plugin reports the lens info correctly, so I can't understand how Smugmug gets it so wrong.

    I have only limited experience with the R5/100-500 combo having received the 100-500 too late for my Katmai trip. But I did take it out to the SF Bay marshes and shot a few birds and it delivered quite well. Ditto for shooting the dog in the back yard.

    I'm excited for you about the R3. I'm torn about which R body to pick up next. I'm leaning towards getting the R6 for now and waiting to see what the R1 will be. Rumors have it as more of a jack-of-all-trades with a high resolution sensor. I hate the fact that the R6 has only a 20MP sensor. But as a second body I think the resolution will be fine, as nicely corroborated by your decision on the R3. Plus it reportedly has a bit better high ISO than the R5. And saving $1400 over a second R5 is nothing to sneeze at.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator

    I bought the R5 for the larger sensor density more for landscapes and such, but it really does shine for small birds with the 100-500, even though the lens aperture is much smaller than i would prefer. I do love the light weight of the package though.
    I am looking forward to the R3 - hopefully it will show up this year. We'll see.

    Here is another image with the R5 and the RF 100-500 - a long billed thrasher getting a drink. The bokeh does not look like an f7.1 lens does it?

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,666 moderator

    The 100-500 has some magic going on with the bokeh. This is F8! https://photos.smugmug.com/Friends-and-Family/n-PnSdk/Rex/i-gttpHmC/1/d50bfbf8/X2/_R9A8830-X2.jpg

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator
    edited November 9, 2021

    Bokeh looks pretty nice.

    Like I said, I really rather like the lens, even though I was initially rather skeptical. I'm a convert, I guess.

    Now I'd like to see a few more images from the RF 600 f11 and the RF 800 f11.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • govindvkumargovindvkumar IndiaRegistered Users Posts: 6 Beginner grinner
    Lovely images. Amazing shots of the Cara Cara
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,614 moderator

    Thank you for your comments, govindvkumar

    I had photographed cara caras previously, many years ago, in Florida. Usually just one bird at a time.

    Unlike the ranch in Texas where we saw dozens at a time for 3 or 4 hours long, morning and evening. I've never seen that many cara caras in one location before.

    Canon R5 RF 100-500 at 500mm 1/1000th f7.1 ISO 3200

    Canon 1DX Mk II Tamron 150-600mm G2 at 273mm 1/1000th f7.1 ISO 1000

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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