Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dan and the gang in Thailand

My friend Dan Holayter, his wife Julie and a group of old acquaintances of mine from my Eagle River days just got back from touring Thailand for a few weeks. Bangkok was of course the the start of their tour.
Bangkok is huge, humid, and very hot. It takes hours to get anywhere in town. Dan hated the place. He is one of the few people that I know who does not care for Thai food.
It is virtually obligatory to visit some of the many elaborate Buddhist shrines around town.
Inside, a worship service of some kind.
A giant golden Buddha passively observes.
There are lots of fascinating things to see.
A funky cat?
A real cat enjoys the protection of a scary stone cat.
The canals of Bangkok are filled with floating merchants and markets.
An Asian Pied Starling.
Some impressive topiary.
Next time we will visit more of Lumpini Park and its artificial lake. This Red-eared Slider was living there. They are originally from Southeastern USA but have been introduced to many other parts of the world. They can be detrimental to native turtle populations. Many people in Asia like to eat them.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tom in Borneo etc.

While Gary froze his toes off in Antarctica, Tom was sweating in Borneo. He spent most of his time exploring caves and climbing mountains. The biggest mountain in Borneo is Mt. Kinabalu, (above).
He went on a night safari along the Kinabatangan River where he saw lots of exotic critters like this Civet.
And this sleeping trogon, Red-headed I believe..
During the daytime he saw this Long-tailed Macaque along the Kinabatangan River.
Tom was accompanied by some friends and the local guide above.
They admired, (or recoiled in horror at this) strange millipede.
Tom challenged me to identify this bird which was mist netted by some bird researchers. To the best of my knowledge it is a taylorbird, Dark-necked, or Ashy. I do not have a comprehensive field guide for the birds of Borneo so I cannot be sure.
Tom called this a Wing-like Kinabalu Orchid.
In the meantime I have been playing with the new camera a bit more. The days have been overcast so I did not heve enough light to get really sharp photos.
The gulls have only been in town for about a week. These are Mew Gulls on Chester Creek.
There was a report of a Thayer's Gull at Cuddy Park. I went there last night to look for it. Thayer's Gulls are nearly identical to Herring Gulls, (above). Thayer's Gull is a little smaller with purplish red eyelids and a pink gape. I looked through the many Herring Gulls but could not turn one into the Thayer's Gull.
Canada Geese have only been in town for a few days. These two were standing on the rotting ice at Cuddy Park pond.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Testing the Big Boy Camera

A little over a year ago I bought a new camera. I did not need a new camera, the old cameras worked perfectly well. I only bought the new camera because I read a review about the, Fujifilm HS-50 with its powerful zoom and its many nifty new innovations. I just had to have it, and it cost less than $500.00.
It is a great camera, so easy to use and so versatile. It does have its weaknesses. mainly being its inability to obtain very sharp focus at full zoom and often inaccurate exposures.
For the past year I have been saving my nickels and looking for a DSLR and a really sharp telephoto lens that I could afford. I have also been wrestling with my conscience because I knew that this would be a frivolous purchase that will never satisfy me for long.
This past week I made my choice. The photo above shows the new camera, a Canon 6D, next to my HS-50 with the zoom lenses extended. The lens is a Sigma, 150-600mm,5-6.3 DG OS zoom lens. The total cost for them was about, $2,600.00. They came with a bunch of extras like a monopod etc.
I'll write about the new lens first. I chose it because it seemed to be the best lens for my budget. It got great reviews for its sharp focus which was my main consideration. It is very sturdy, and very heavy.
I chose the Canon 6D body because it is a full frame DSLR; 20 megapixels with a slough of features that I will never use.
Its main competition in my thinking was the Canon 7D Mark ll. The 7D is an aps-c type of camera. In my ignorance I assumed that the full frame CMOS sensor of the 6D means a better quality image. I already know that is probably not the case. I should have gone with the 7D because it would have turned my 600mm lens into an 800mm lens. By the way my old HS-50 has a 1000mm zoom lens.
On Wednesday I took my new camera out to test it. The day was drizzling as I set out and turned to a snow mix as the day progressed. Not the ideal conditions for obtaining sharp photographs. I went to Spenard Crossing and Westchester Lagoon, (which is still frozen over). The swans were still present.
A new duck had arrived the day before. A single male, Ring-necked Duck.
The week before that, I went to Spenard Crossing on an overcast day and photographed this Mallard hen with the HS-50.
This week I photographed this hen with the new camera in even dimmer light with a fine drizzle in the air. The image is slightly sharper although it is not a direct comparison. The Sigma requires a monopod or tripod to hold it steady.
Last week I photographed this Steller's Jay in overcast light with the HS-50.
I also photographed this magpie with a slightly overgrown beak.
This is probably the same magpie shot with the Canon a week later.
This week, Barrow's Goldeneyes outnumbered the Common Goldeneyes.
The precipitation never let up and finally I just gave up and went home.
My preliminary impressions are that the HS-50 is 40% more powerful than the Canon and so much easier to manage. However the Canon does a much better job of getting exposures right. It is too early to know if the lens sharpness is significantly better, The Canon has 20 megapixels compared to the HS-50's 16 megapixels.
The Canon will never replace the HS-50 entirely. I will have to use the Canon more before I decide whether to put it up on ebay or Craig's list. My hope is that some camera manufacturer will come out with a superzoom point and shoot with truly sharp focus. Then it's goodbye to heavy lenses.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ushuala and Beyond

Before sailing south to Antarctica, Gary and Terry spent a few days in Buenos Aires and then Ushuala at the bottom of the South American continent. They saw some good birds, like this Chimango Caracara.
Beautiful, and tame Upland Geese.
A member of an exclusively South American bird family that looks like thrushes, this is a Dark-bellied Cinclodes. They are part of the large South American bird family called oven birds. They were given that name because of the way they construct their nests.
South America has some really cool ducks, like this, Chloe Widgeon.
Yellow-billed Pintails, (background) and Spectacled Ducks. Parts of Argentina have massive numbers of waterfowl.
A Pintado Petrel on the high seas.
A large, Southern Royal Albatross.
The related Northern Royal Albatross.
Gray-headed Albatross.
Light-Mantled Albatross.
A Gentoo Penguin plows through the water.
The cutest of the penguins, Adele Penguin.