Sunday, September 6, 2015

New arrival in the garden....

A few days ago I went to my local camera shop, took out the family jewels, and exchanged them for a Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 lens. For about three weeks I'd read up reviews, enlisted opinions from photographer friends, looked at hundreds of photos taken with this beast of a lens, and it the general opinion was that it was the next best thing to forking out six figures (in Rands) for a Canon of the same range and quality. But most of all, I asked Adeline what she thought. And when she said, just go and buy the damn thing, well, that's what I did.

It's a monster of a camera lens. I haven't weighed it, but it's not the sort of lens you take on the Camino de Santiago (read what I took with on that little 46-day excursion here) unless you're looking to develop serious back-aches. Nope, I didn't get it with a view to traveling far; I got it for birding and wildlife photography, which in South Africa means anywhere from my back garden to the Kruger National Park, which is only a six hour drive a way, plus at least a dozen wildlife reserves inbetween.

My timing for acquiring the lens was good - our resident garden Cape Robin had given birth to a youngster just a few days prior, and soon the little one was driving us insane with its incessant, high-pitched tweeting for food. The parents were constantly flying back and forth with morsels of insects and worms, and dropping it into a seemingly bottomless gullet that could never get enough to eat.So I set up my Manfrotto tripod on the verandah, mounted my new lens onto the Canon 5D MkIII and waited to see if I could catch Cape Robin feeding time on camera.

For the first try I added in the Sigma 2x extender, but at 5pm the light was simply not enough to ensure a sharp photo. For the next try, two days later, I took off the extender and stuck with the lens only, which was more successful. The resulting photo was a mix of luck and preparedness. There was literally a half-second window opportunity between Mrs Cape Robin arriving with lunch, Junior opening wide, and mum dropping in a yummy piece of earthworm.

I didn't do much to the snapshot in Lightroom afterwards, just the usual bit of cropping and sharpening. And there you have it. My investment has started paying for itself, perhaps not in Rands and cents, but certainly in photographic satisfaction.

But most of all, we're happy that the Cape Robin lineage is continuing in the garden - the Robins have a more of less permanent spot in the hedge where they return to breed every year. And now I can start a family album of photographs!

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