Backyard bird photography with the Tokina 300/2.8

Backyard bird photography with the Tokina 300/2.8

  Spring is starting to show it self in North-Central Arkansas, and it is the perfect time to try out a new toy. I sold a few portrait lenses and used the proceeds to pick up a Tokina 300/2.8. I also have a 2x teleconverter, giving me  a 600/5.6 for about 1000 bucks. Now, you might be wondering why not to buy a canon 300/2.8. I have shot the Canon, and it was an awesome lens, but with a sticker price of 6800 bucks…. well…. I just can’t justify that cost for a lens that i am not making money with. The Tokina AT-X 300 AF PRO (300mm f/2.8) is an auto-focus lens, it can fit canon, nikon and minolta cameras. Specifications:  Focal length    300 mm Weight  4.4 lbs  Angle of view              8.2°  Max. aperture             f/2.8  Aperture blades         8  Lenses/Groups           9 elements in 7 groups Min. focus distance    2.40 meters There were not a ton of these lenes made, and they have since been discontinued, so they are getting pretty hard to find. This is actually the 2nd on that I have purchased. The first one was damaged in shipping and I had to make a claim with the insurance provided by the shipper. So, we will start with the bad news. The Auto-focus performance. This lens was made before the days of Canon’s USM (ultra sonic motor) AF, so the auto-focus is much louder (it sounds like it is full of angry bees) and slower. It is still fast enough to track birds in flight, but noticeably slower than canon’s USM lenses. Here is the good news. It is a very solid...

Stuck in a rut?

rut 1  (rt) n. 1. A sunken track or groove made by the passage of vehicles. 2. A fixed, usually boring routine. be (stuck) in a rut: 1. to do the same things all the time so that you become bored, 2. or to be in a situation where it is impossible to make progress I feel like I have been stuck in a rut with photography for the last few months. Not sure why, I have been through this before, I have heard people describe it like  writer’s block but it is not like that for me… I just don’t feel like making images. I want to…but when the time comes to actually go out and shoot, I just find my self impossible to motivate.  It dosen’t really make sense, I have just moved to a new area, so photographic opportunities abound. There are so many wild areas here to explore. I should have no problems finding a subject and inspiration. I think my work a big part of my problem. I work as a photographer in a photography studio and i find myself shooting the same thing over and over. I shoot maybe 5-6 sessions a week, but out of my 40 hour workweek I spend maybe 5-8 hours actually shooting. I thought when I left the owner-operator business model and started a employee/employer relationship ( with me as an employee) ,that I would be able to live more of the glamorous life of the photographer. What I have found, is that I work *almost* as much as I did as an owner/operator, but I do not...
Short walk on Robinson Point

Short walk on Robinson Point

I ordered a new lens last week, and it came in, and I thought maybe a short walk/hike would be a good place to try it out. Caitlyn and I decided to head to Robinson Point in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I didn’t use the new lens, I ended up carrying one body (Canon 6d) and 4 lenses (35/2.8 tilt-shift, 55/1.2, 85/1.2, and a 300/2.8) The Joke is on me, I used the 35 for all but the last image, which I used the 55 for. I ended up carrying almost 10lbs of gear that I didn’t even consider using. Here is a interactive map of our hike   I’ll post a full review with samples from the 300/2.8 soon, for now here are some of the images from todays walk....

Great Smoky Mountain National Park – One of my favorite places to visit.

  One of my favorite destinations for photography, and best of all it was right in my back yard. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is located in Eastern Tennessee and the western side of North Carolina. The actual park is pretty big, a little over 800 square miles. With over 9 million Tourists every year the park can get pretty crowed during peak times. The fall will be the busiest time with winter being the slowest. [nggallery id=3] There are many opportunities to photograph in any season. Everything from wildlife to landscapes the park system has much to offer. Each season has it’s own personality and you will have no problems finding something to shoot when you go. I have stayed in every season; I have stayed in local hotels and at RV campgrounds. I have even used primitive campsites on several occasions. All were great trips. If you have never been, you should definitely plan a trip as soon as you...

The best photography gear that is not photography gear

  I have had quite a few gear posts to my blog recently. Well… Here is one more. Winter is on the way out. I am looking forward to spring. Once the temps start warming up and the trees start budding up I will be heading out for a little hiking and camping and a ton of photography. I often plan trips that are not possible or feasible to do without an overnight camping trip. For example, this spring I am planning a trip to a local landmark; it will be a 3-mile walk to the subject. Not very far really; but I want to photograph it just after the sunsets. That makes things a little more difficult. I, generally, do not like, or recommend hiking on unfamiliar trails after dark. It is very easy to get lost, or hurt. So, I will end up making this trip with an overnight stay at the intended photography location. In my youth, I did quite a bit of hiking and camping. It was one of my favorite pastimes.  As I have gotten older, things like a comfortable place to sleep have become far more important to me. I used to use a North Face Tadpole 23 Tent. Which is a legendary tent by itself. A good friend gave it to me when he got to old to go out on the trail any more. I used the hell out of that tent for about 15 years, and it still works as good now as the day I received it. There is only one problem with that tent. I just got tired of lying on the...