Saturday, April 30, 2011

400mm Heaven!

Yesterday I received the 100-400mm f/5.6 lens. It was a gift from my mother--an early birthday present. I think it's the most generous thing she's ever given me. I'm turning the big FIVE-OH next month and she said she wanted me to have something special that I would really love. I could never, ever buy something so extravagant for myself, and I do feel a little guilty for having it, but this is definitely not the norm. I can't thank you enough, Mama!

Before I could get my hands on the lens, the UPS guy and my sneaky office mate crafted a little joke behind my back.

I had tracked the package and saw it was "out for delivery", so when the brown truck pulled up to the building I was beyond excited; however, when the UPS man walked into my office to have me sign for the delivery, he only presented me with one puny, little package.

I said, "Joe! Where's the rest?"

"What rest? This is all I have for you today."

My heart began palpitating wildly. I said, "What?! You're kidding me, right? Say you're kidding, Joe!"

"I'm sorry, but that's all I have." Dead pen delivery, no smile in his eyes. My heart sunk.

I was just about to perform an illegal search and seizure on his truck when Jeff, my office mate, came sauntering down the hallway carrying a very large package, laughing all the way. Joe was rather pleased with himself for playing his part to perfection. After I gave them each a stern lecture, I tore into the package like a crazed animal.

My goodness! The size of this lens is quite intimidating. I'm pretty sure it weighs more than Sparky. Undeterred I quickly mounted it on my waiting camera and took it outside. The only thing worth shooting was a bloom off a newly planted magnolia tree. But the wind is back, so the shots were only so-so. I did notice, however, that the lens was very fast for f 5.6. The auto focus was smooth and silent. Love that!

Couldn't wait for my work day to end so I could go out to the nature preserve.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
I was only looking for the Great Blue or Little Blue Heron, but God was so gracious and gave me the Yellow-crowned Night Heron! I didn't know at the time that I was shooting that--I simply knew these looked a little different with the broad white stripe across the face and the variation in the wing feathers. I figured it might be a juvenile or something. It wasn't until I got home and Googled "heron" that I figured it out. Wish I had more time to spend out there, but I'll be back!

Noticed these house finches when I returned home. The male was acting especially strange, bobbing his head up and down while also singing. When I downloaded the pictures, I noticed he had a tiny green seed on his beak. He was probably trying to impress the female with it.
Watch me balance this tiny seed on my nose.
See what I can do for you, my fair lady? Impressed yet?
The female never quite caught on to what the male was doing, or she wasn't interested, so he turned around and fluffed out his feathers. 
House Finches are monogamous. Males engage in courtship display known as “butterfly flight” wherein they ascend 20 to 30 meters high and slowly glide to a perch while singing loudly. Other courtship displays such as courtship feeding and mate guarding occur. Females prefer to mate with brightly colored males because the latter can find enough food to feed the young.

I finally got a decent shot of the Brown-headed Cowbird:

Isn't it amazing the difference between the female and male Red-winged Blackbird?
Red-winged Blackbird, female
Red-winged Blackbird, male
 As you can see I am thoroughly enjoying the new lens! I'm leaving right now to go shoot some more at another nature area. Hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend!


Barbara said...

I'd be jealous, but I'm too happy for you and loving these shots! Guess what's on my wish list??

hootnonny said...

Not only am I impressed with the shots, but loving the different colored backgrounds. Such awesome work, LaBelle!

Rosemary Aubut said...

What a wonderful gift. Happy Birthday as well! Love your new photos, looking forward to viewing many more along with those years.

Hilary said...

Oh what a beautiful and generous gift. Your photos are lovely.. that heron is just amazing. Congrats on the new lens. This aging thing has its perks. ;)

lisa said...

CONGRATULATIONS Gail. I just know you will have fun with it. These are such beautiful images!

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

Congratulations. I turn 50 next year --- wondering if I can put a bug in my husband's ear. But J-E-A-L-O-U-S. I could use a 400mm for sports, birds, EVERYTHING, but know I can't afford it. I'll live vicariously through you. Enjoy!

Nadine, Chewy and Lilibell said...

Amazing Gail, absolutely AMAZING! I'm quite jellie with your photography talents.