Supersonic Man

July 13, 2013


Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 11:51 am

What’s more fun than seeing a young male Bullock’s Oriole in your back yard?

How about a male Hooded Oriole?

With his whole family!

Here’s the Mrs or one of the youngsters (I can’t tell which) going after some flower nectar.

These guys have all been showing up in the last week.  We’ve put out orange slices to tempt them.  They haven’t eaten those yet, but there’s plenty of other fruit and berries in the yard.

April 3, 2013

an embarrasingly close closeup

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 7:23 pm

I’ve settled on a lens to use with the tiny Q camera… it’s a Nikkor 180mm f2.8 ED, an oldie but goodie considered to have been one of the sharpest telephotos of the film era.

The new Q-gun can really pull things in tight…

February 20, 2013

a tame eagle!

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 9:05 pm


February 9, 2013

a Q picture in the wild

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 9:21 pm

200mm x 5.5 crop factor = how the hell did I ever get a halfway sharp picture handheld??

Marbled godwits and willets taking a siesta:

This was when the local Audubon chapter was showing people around our local wetlands.

We went back the next day, and got this white-tailed kite:

We also saw a greater yellowlegs, which the Auduboners had not yet got on their list.

The godwits were still there… I think I like this shot nicer than yesterday’s:

January 13, 2013

Q time

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 12:45 pm

In WWII they used the term “Q ship” for a fighting ship disguised as an innocent commercial vessel.  In later years, that term got re-used for hot-rod cars that externally appeared to be unenhanced stock vehicles.  Now there’s a Q-ship of a camera… and it’s called the Pentax Q.  It’s a tiny pocket model, the size of a budget point&shoot compact, except it’s an interchangeable lens system.  So it competes with Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Nikon 1 system, and the like, but because of its tiny size, it’s crappier than any of them.

Until, that is, you put the right adapter on it.  Precisely because it’s so undersized, using it with a normal-sized SLR lens suddenly turns it into a monster of extreme telephoto.  A 300mm lens, which in traditional 35mm terms becomes like a 450mm on a typical APS DSLR, will on this camera become equivalent to something like 1650mm.  That’s not a telephoto, that’s a fucking telescope.

The thing is, with all the bird photography I was doing, quite a lot of my shots were being cropped that small already!  Which meant my existing camera was only giving me about one megapixel to work with.  Now I can shoot the same picture with twelve megapixels.  This would be like cropping the middle out of a shot taken with a camera that had a hundred and thirty megapixels.

The main tradeoff is just that I have to use manual focus.  With an LCD for a viewfinder.  So I bought a Q at a cheap closeout price.  (The original model has been replaced with one called the Q10.)

300mm is pretty extreme.  I prefer a more moderate 200mm, I think.  I’ll be looking for old manual-focus prime lenses of that length… hopefully I can come up with something sharp.

Because naturally, that extreme magnification also magnifies every flaw: every optical imperfection of the lens, every faint trace of camera motion, and every minute error of focus.  Shooting with a long lens on this camera is difficult and challenging. To get the noise down and the shutter speed up high enough needs either a very fast lens or full sunlight — so far, I don’t have the former and have had to wait a couple of weeks for the latter.  But fortunately, with good enough light it can be done without a tripod.  (I still recommend a monopod, though.)

There’s really no such thing as a lens that can get full use out of all twelve megapixels on a sensor this small, but I’ll just see how sharp a one I can find.

It’s taken a while but I’m starting to get some halfway decent shots out of it.  This one was taken from a tripod through a window:

January 1, 2013

back to the wetlands

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 10:18 pm

We haven’t been out to properly enjoy the birds very much since the runup to the holidays… now things are finally allowing us to recreate again.

Isn’t this kestrel just adorable?

There were lots of this one odd kind of duck… turns out they were ruddy ducks with their breeding colors turned off.  Here’s the boy,

and here’s the girl:

We also saw something large and owl-like fly by, which I could only get a distant shot of from the back:

Probably a red-shouldered hawk.

The next day, we went on a mini hike up a local hill.  Various hawks soaring around… check out the bulging crop on this one:

And then we got to see a nice sunset.

November 17, 2012


Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 11:15 pm

My 150th photographed wild bird species (not counting five blurry shots of uncertain species) is the red-breasted nuthatch, which recently started showing up in our back yard.

October 15, 2012


Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 9:50 pm

Long time no post.  Long time no get out of the house and see anything, let alone get good pictures.

The migratory waterbirds are returning.  And we get plenty of a species that I have not photographed before: cinnamon teals!

I also caught a blue-winged teal, which was also new to my camera:

This guy who is apparently flying without wings is probably a green-winged teal (a familiar denizen of the area):

We haven’t gotten out to enjoy the wetlands properly — and especially not to take pictures — in weeks and weeks.  It was wonderful.  She was delighted with how we kept seeing another new species, and another, and another.  Song sparrows, northern harriers, northern shovelers, northern pintails, a mute swan, goldfinches, vultures perched in a blooming century plant, a gadwall, avocets and stilts, a mass of unidentified shorebirds… and isn’t this pintail just the handsomest thing ever?

July 13, 2012

more new ones

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 8:57 pm

I recently learned that a gang of Auduboners came out to the parking lot at my job, to observe the birds there.  So it’s not just my amateurish ignorance that makes it seem like a prime birding spot.  Last time I took my camera there, I got a species I’d never seen before — a bullock’s oriole:

And I got a good long look at a pair of swainson’s hawks, which I’d previously only had a very distant shot of (probably one of those same two).  Here’s one of them in flight:


June 17, 2012

redo of the heron nestlings shot

Filed under: birds,Photo — Supersonic Man @ 11:42 am

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