Monday, January 19, 2009

The Wrath of Turdus

There was a promise of sunny spells, and as I planned to be over the bridge anyway I headed back to Marshfield, where there continue to be reports of finch flocks and winter thrushes on the Birding South Gloss website (here). I met Martin Hayes when I was wandering around, and should have thanked him better for keeping this going, especially for us out of towners. As before the birds were around in reasonable quantities, but getting near enough for a snap was more tricky.
Eventually these field canaries and I came to an understanding. I would crouch in the raised field in full view and keep still. They would fly in and out of the hedges ad eventually get the confidence to come close enough for a snap. The background is a bit twiggy, but the yellowhammer is such a cute little thing I can live with that.
However when it came to the winter thrushes the same old problem arose. I am convinced that Turdus the Thrush God has put a hex on me. Even when the buggers come close enough for a snap the camera/lens can't get the focus right. Sit in a tree and 9+ of 10 are ok. Sit in the grass and the lens misses. They don't look too bad at this resolution, but none are pin sharp. And look how close the redwing was. I could understand the fieldfare which was, obviously, more distant. Alright probably less divine intervention than some kind of pre/backfocusing issue which occurs with the camera pointing down and a grassy background. It even happened here last weekend with these local song thrushes from Caldicot Castle. Right, you might look and think - not that bad, but I binned loads. The one on the molehill was the only one at that range in focus. Ok if you fill the frame it works, but not at usual shooting distance. And that redwing was fairly close (for once).
The dunnock and robin at Collister Pill were the same. Sit on a gate and bang, pin sharp. Down in the straw and one of perhaps 20 dunnock in focus, and every single robin blurred.

I've tried all the autofocus options. And yes I've tried manual focus, but the viewfinder on the 400D is so small and crap that my iffy eyesight can't tell if it's sharp. It looks sharp, but I'm worse than the autofocus when I get them on the big screen! I know I'm hard on my kit, as I invariably use a 2x converter on the 300mm lens, but I have to get as close as I can! Maybe Turdus would be appeased if I sacrificed a cat? Pass the antifreeze ....................

As always better images can be seen in the web albums HERE.
Click on latest to see these ones.

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