Photographs by Frank

25 May 2022

Loon Watching — Little Action & Optical Experiments

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:30 PM

This afternoon, I headed down to see what was up with the loons. I arrived at my loon watching post right about 4 PM. The weather was pleasant with the temperature around 70 deg. F. It was mostly cloudy but with broken clouds moving at a moderate pace. Thus the light kept changing.

My goal, beside seeing what was up with the loons, was to test out a 2x teleconverter. This device doubles the magnification of a lens but the increase magnification comes at a price. As they say… “There is not such thing as a free lunch.” In this case the price is a decrease in optical quality and, with this particular device, the loss of auto-focus and auto-exposure. One ends up with a camera that operates like cameras did prior to about 1980.

The first photo shown below (made about 4 PM) is a full frame* using the 600 mm lens. The second photo (also a full frame and made a few minutes later) shows the effect of the 2x teleconverter.

Shortly after I added the teleconverter the only loon action I observed this afternoon occurred. The loon stood up briefly and examined the eggs. (They may have turned the eggs, but I am not sure of that.) I made two exposures while the bird was standing. One of these photos (the third photo below) clearly shows the two eggs in the nest. After the loon settled back down, I made a few more exposures with the teleconverter installed before removing it for the rest of the afternoon. I was not willing to compromise photos of any further action until I got the files on my computer and examined them closely**.

As for “further action” this afternoon. There was none! The loon sat on the nest for the next two hours. It looked around regularly and panted*** when the sun came out from behind the clouds but that was it! Such is the life of a nature watcher.

I tried to stay focused on the loons, but at one point I got distracted by light on the wind turbines that are on the ridge above the loon nest. Thus, I briefly pointed my camera just a bit higher than usual.

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* This image is very modestly cropped from a 2:3 ratio native to the camera to my preferred ratio of 4:5. I crop almost every photo I make to the 4:5 ratio; it just fits my view of the world better. However, most of my photos of the loons on the nest are cropped more severely in order to make a better photograph with the subject more prominent in the frame. The last two loon photos in this series are cropped this way.

** The verdict of my experiment is that I will not be using the teleconverter routinely. The complication of completely manual operation and the moderate loss of image quality are not worth it.

*** Birds, including loons, do not sweat. Rather, in order to cool off in hot weather, they open their mouths and ‘pant’. This allows them to evaporate water from the mucous membranes and thus cools them much as sweat evaporating from a mammal’s skin does.

1 Comment

  1. Not seeing any “drop-off” with the 2x. I do understand not having it affixed for the length of a shoot. And, thanks for the lesson on panting. Who knew???

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 26 May 2022 @ 7:39 AM

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