John Chardine Photography: Blog en-us (C) chardine photography [email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:18:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:18:00 GMT John Chardine Photography: Blog 120 96 Out of the box, an issue with the Sony a7RIII and the 100-400 lens How to ruin a first impression: connect a Sony a7RIII body to a Sony 100-400mm lens, turn on, look through viewfinder, half-press shutter button and NO AUTOFOCUS! Try again and it worked. Play for the next two days and find that 10% of the time there is no AF when the shutter or AF-ON buttons are depressed. No rhyme or reason to the loss of AF. However, AF works fine on Canon lenses connected to Sony camera via Metabones adapter. 

Go into research mode. Search Mr. Google on web- no hits. Call supplier, Vistek in Toronto (888-365-1777) and speak to Service Dept.- no solution and suggest I call Service Centre. Call Sony Manufacturing and Technology Centre (Service Centre for Canada, 905-666-7669)- no solution, suggest I call tech support. Call Sony Tech Support (877-899-7669)- no solution but they set up a case number and a repair order. Call supplier, Vistek again and suggest a test at the Ottawa store and a possible lens exchange (I will be there next week). They agree (thanks Bo from Service Dept.). Continue researching Mr. Google to no avail. Posted a question on a Dpreview forum dedicated to Sony- no answer

Then I chanced upon a review article of the 100-400 lens by Thom Hogan here. Read half-way through, then came back and read this statement by Thom:

"How's it Handle?
Look, I like function buttons on the lens. They can be quite useful. Or not. Set at defaults I kept trying to figure out why the camera would stop focusing every now and then. Turns out that my support hand under the lens kept hitting the bottom function button. I'm not even sure why there's a button on the bottom with a lens like this. The left hand button falls naturally under the left thumb when you're hand-holding this lens, but the bottom button is right about where your hand is likely to be, at least part of your hand. On a monopod, that bottom button can be very close mount/pod.

BINGO! My natural position is to hold a tele-lens with it cradled below by my left hand, but in doing so I was inadvertently pressing the bottom Focus Hold button on the lens and disabling AF. I quickly re-programmed the buttons to do nothing (nice that you can do this on the newer Sonys). Crap, I was relieved, but as all this unnecessary fussing sunk in I wondered why this "issue" wasn't all over the web, why Sony Tech Support or the Service Centre didn't have this answer at their finger-tips. Surely Thom Hogan and I are not the only ones to have experienced this?!

I hope this blog contributes to putting the issue out there.

[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) af focus hold buttons lose autofocus sony sony fe 100-400mm lens Thu, 31 May 2018 14:09:53 GMT
Bye bye Canon, well not quite I've been off the blog for sometime but decided to start again. What prompted this was a decision to move (slowly) to Sony from Canon. And what prompted this was an impatience with Canon in bringing competitive sensors to their cameras and the bulkiness of the DSLR. The final straw was a chance to play with a friend's newly purchased Sony a7RIII, while recently working on one Hurtigruten's ships MS Fram. I tried the camera with my Canon 100-400 v2 lens and the Metabones adapter and I was impressed with many things. The rig worked for one, including the AF, on aircraft taking off from Boston Logan, and flying birds. Image quality was amazing and the 43MP would be great for printing. So a few days ago I took delivery of a Sony a7RIII and the Sony FE 100-400mm lens. For the next while I will publish my impressions of the whole experience of the move.

[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) canon mirrorless photography shift from canon to sony sony Thu, 31 May 2018 12:24:58 GMT
Photoshop Photography Program I just got through speaking to three different agents at Adobe regarding Creative Cloud (CC) promotions that are in effect right now. You may have seen a deal whereby you could obtain Photoshop CC for $9.99 US/mo for the first year, with no indication as far as I could see about how much it would cost after that. That offer ended 31 August/13. I got different answers from each salesperson but have got to the bottom of what is happening.

If you missed the 31 Aug deadline, all is not lost if you want to jump on the CC bandwagon rather than staying with an earlier CS version of Photoshop. Adobe has announced their "Photoshop Photography Program". See the link here. This is Adobe's answer to the barrage of criticism they received from disgruntled photographers, many of whom do not need the Creative Cloud and all it entails. What they do need is Photoshop and Lightroom. So, in this new plan tailored specifically to photographers, Adobe is offering Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, software updates, 20GB online storage and a couple of other items for $9.99 US/mo in perpetuity (i.e., not for just the first year, although I am sure the price will creep up over time). The link I give above says the offer starts today but this I was told was a "typo". The offer will be available starting 17 September and will run until 31 December. The number to call to order this is 800-585-0774.

So why would you want to do this? If you are the sort of person who always has to have the latest and greatest then in the old model you would be spending several hundred $$ every time a new version of Photoshop came out. With the new monthly subscription model you pay basically $120 US per year or $600 US for 5 years- the new subscription plan could be cheaper for you. Another reason to move to CC is that Adobe have a nasty habit of adding RAW decoders for new camera bodies to new Adobe Camera Raw versions, but the new versions of ACR eventually lose backward compatibility with older Photoshop versions. The solution to this is to use another RAW converter, of which there are many good ones out there, including the proprietary ones engineered by your camera manufacturer. Finally, as operating systems are upgraded, you will lose compatibility with your older version of Photoshop. So it seems Adobe has you behind the 8-ball on this one.

On a personal note, I really like Photoshop but do not harbour much of a warm fuzzy feeling about Adobe. I think Apple should buy Adobe and offer the full version of Photoshop on the App Store for 50 bucks! That would end all this nonsense!

[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Adobe Photography Photoshop Program Thu, 05 Sep 2013 15:51:49 GMT
Bonaventure gannets NOGA 7345 I just made my third trip for the year to beautiful Bonaventure Island, near Percé on the eastern end of the Gaspé Peninsula. For the past 20 years give or take, I've been working on this Northern Gannet colony and the one at Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland. Based on this work, I recently published a paper on the population dynamics of Northern Gannets in North America over the past 25 years, with two other colleagues. A pdf of the paper can be found here.

Since 2010 I've been part of a team working annually on various gannet colonies in North America. Our goal is to try to determine if the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which occurred in the summer of 2010, affected individual gannets or their population. We know about 25% of our gannets overwinter in the area the spill occurred, and they were commonly found oiled on gulf beaches during the summer of 2010. We think the young from 2009 were probably the most affected and as gannets take 5 years to start to breed, we do not expect to see an effect, if any, at the population level until next year. Since 2009, North American gannet populations have declined after a long and sustained increase but this occurred too early to be attributed to the spill. The decline seems to be linked to several years of below-average breeding success. We are currently looking at environmental and ecological variables such as weather or food availability that may explain this. To give you an idea of how bad the situation was last year, only 8% of the eggs laid in the colony at Bonaventure Island produced chicks that survived until September.

In between work visits I return to Bonaventure to photograph these magnificent birds. I can't think of a better photographic subject!

NOGA 7799 NOGA 1764 NOGA 7462

NOGA 9070

[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Thu, 22 Aug 2013 02:16:11 GMT
Heat shimmer, the image killer An important factor in photographic image quality is how stable the air is between your lens and your subject. Variation in air temperature with pockets of cool and warm air cause the light to be refracted as it passes through the less dense or more dense air masses and as these pockets move, they cause unstable air. On a warm day, the familiar heat shimmer rising off a warm road is an everyday example. The effect of this instability on image quality depends on its severity and how much air you are shooting through- the more distant your subject, the worse the problem. This the effects of heat-shimmer are particularly noticeable when using a telephoto lens on a subject in the distance.

Here in the Maritime provinces we quite often experience "heat shimmer". A typical scenario would be a beach with coolish water on a hot sunny day with little wind. As the water cools the air above it, the air mixes with the air being heated by the sun hitting the beach material, whether it be rocks, pebbles or sand. The shimmer is generally worse in the zone about10-20 cm above the beach- exactly where those shorebirds are standing. However, it can also affect the whole column of air above the ground to a significant height. The result of heat-shimmer is out-of-focus, blurry images. This is hard to detect through the viewfinder of the camera but if you suspect you might be suffering from shimmer, take a look at a few images on your LCD. Zoom in on them and you will instantly notice the poor image quality. Another way to tell that heat-shimmer is occurring is to but your camera on a tripod, switch on live view, zoom in using live view and focus on a static subject. As you view the LCD screen you will notice the image going in and out of focus.

Short of going home, one way to combat heat shimmer is to attempt to get as close as possible to your subject without disturbing it. Also, simply avoid the conditions that cause the problem in the first place. You need a heat source to cause the problem so avoiding sunny conditions kills two birds with one stone: no heat shimmer and beautiful, soft light.

Over the past week, I have experienced problems with heat shimmer while photographing the Semipalmated Sandpipers at Johnson's Mills. Here are some examples.

This is from the centre of an image made with Canon's 500mm F4L IS USM version II and the Canon 1D Mark IV. This should be pin-sharp!


If you see repeating lines around out of focus elements in your image it's a good bet you are suffering from heat-shimmer:



[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) heat shimmer image quality Fri, 09 Aug 2013 19:39:01 GMT
The hunter and the hunted Predator-prey relationships abound in the natural world. We tend to think of large charismatic animals such the wolf or tiger when "predator" comes to mind but swallows are predators of flying insects and cod are predators of capelin in just the same way as a wolf is a predator of a moose. Perhaps more akin to tigers than a swallows, the Peregrine Falcon is a bird predator, and its large size and power allow it to take quite large prey such as ducks and gulls. Indeed, the old North American name for the Peregrine Falcon was the "Duck Hawk". However, they take small birds too and when the Semipalmated Sandpipers flock on the shores of the upper Bay of Fundy at this time of year, local Peregrines take advantage of this food source. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Peregrine Falcon (1981) Peregrines don't have it all their own way though. The sandpipers have well developed any-predator behaviours such as flocking and fast, erratic flying in large flocks. This provides individual sandpipers with safety in numbers and also confuses the predator. The success rate of a hunting Peregrine on flocking sandpipers is surprisingly low, but it clearly must be worth their while (in other words, the energy and nutrients expended in capturing a sandpiper must be less than the what a sandpiper provides).

At the top of the food web, predators tend to be relatively rare in ecosystems, relying on a large base of prey below them in the food web. A few decades ago Peregrines were even rarer than normal likely because of low breeding success associated with thin-eggshells caused by DDT in the environment. These days, DDT levels are much lower and with the help of captive breeding programs, the species is returning to normal numbers. This is putting more pressure on populations of their prey both through direct predation and the disturbance that it inevitably causes.

[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Mon, 05 Aug 2013 17:48:54 GMT
More young-uns The American Robin is one of the most widespread and successful species of birds in North America. It's a prolific breeder having up to four broods of chicks in a single breeding season. Here we are in late July and our local robins are probably on their third brood with enough time for a fourth this year. A few days ago, we discovered two very young robin chicks on our back lawn. Both parents were in the area, feeding the chicks but I was worried about local cats so moved the younger of the two chicks to a more sheltered location. Normally I would have left them alone- and you should too if you find young birds on the ground. The worse thing you can do is bring them in and try to feed them yourself. As I handled the chick it let out a squeal and both parents reacted very strongly, which was good to see. Clearly the chicks were being well looked-after by attentive parents! By the way, it's a myth that if you touch an egg or chick, the parents will abandon.

Both chicks maintained a head-up posture while on the ground, ready for a feeding at any time. I managed to catch the younger of the two with gape wide open in anticipation of food.

American Robin (8792) American Robin (8808)


[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:28:09 GMT
They are back Well, you know summer is basically over when the shorebirds start migrating through the Maritimes. And it only just began, summer that is. Although our region is important for several species of shorebirds as a place to refuel, build up resources, fat and body condition, in preparation for their southward migration, our signature species is the Semipalmated Sandpiper. Hundreds of thousands migrate from the Arctic to the head of the Bay of Fundy to feed on mud shrimp- Corophium volutator. These little crustaceans are packed with fat and other nutrients which allow the sandpipers to double their body mass from about 20g to 40g+ in three weeks. The sandpipers then set off on a non-stop migration to northern South America, which takes them about four days. Think about that- a bird about half the size of an American Robin flies non-stop for four days to another continent!

So much for biology, it turns out the Semipalmated Sandpipers are fabulous subjects for wildlife photography and as a result I lead workshops in early-mid August to teach you how to photograph this world-class wildlife spectacle. The location is Dorchester Cape, New Brunswick. For more information click here.

Here are a few images from today, when I estimate there were about 60,000 birds in the area. Many more will be arriving in the next three weeks!

Semipalmated Sandpiper (9464) Semipalmated Sandpiper (9067)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (9401)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (9474)


[email protected] (John Chardine Photography) Thu, 25 Jul 2013 21:05:01 GMT