a teatray in the sky

portrait of the kookaburra as a young bird

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Birds, Defrag, Photography by firthefirst on March 23, 2011

this sort of shot is the reason you get a 400mm lens.  amusingly, folks with cheaper cameras have an easier time of getting shots like this, as even a relatively easy-to-find 300mm length lens on a 1.6x crop body will allow you to shoot at a 480mm equivalent.

random thought: birds are actually pretty freaky looking, with the exception of a few species.  between the gnarly claws, the bugged-out eyes, the gritty beaks, and the unnatural musculature, its little surprise that Hitchcock and Poe found them creepy subjects.  super frightening is the way the crest feathers grow out of the skull of peacocks … it just looks wrong.  kookaburras get a pass, they’re way to cute to appear intimidating in any light.  as a human, I think there’s always some fascination with birds because they get to do what all of us dream of doing — flying.

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Canon Extender EF 2x III review – gone birding

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Birds, Bronx, Gearheadedness, New York City, Photography by firthefirst on March 22, 2011

continuing from yesterday’s post about using the new Extender EF 2x III on the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II, today I’m going to review how the pairing worked out on my 5d mark II for birding at the zoo.

I’ve noted before that I am no birder.  I’m lousy at pinpointing birds on trees (tina is really good at this, so I suppose I can rely on her to be a spotter).  I have no practice at tracking them while in flight.  luckily, birding is one of those things that you can improve at with practice.  a lot of patience and the willingness to delete a lot of bad photos goes a long way towards improving your skills. (more…)

Canon Extender EF 2x III review – leaping lemurs

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Bronx, Gearheadedness, New York City, Photography, Primates by firthefirst on March 21, 2011

ever since getting the canon extender EF 2x III to pair with the canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II in preparation for august’s galapagos trip, I’ve been meaning to give the system a formal shakedown (I did a very preliminary test run here).  with work in the way, that review has taken far longer to get to than expected.  I had a lucky break this past weekend when Tina got sent to the big apple for a symposium.  I packed up the photo gear and merrily tagged along, with zero intention of thinking any architectural thoughts — I was headed to the Bronx Zoo.  while few of the larger mammals were out due to the chilly-for-africa temperatures, the Bronx Zoo has a huge and exciting collection of primates and birds, so I spent most of my time photographing the furry and the feathery. (more…)

coming back around

Posted in 30D, Defrag, Photography by firthefirst on March 15, 2011

I was going to write an entry sometime this past weekend about how it was the one year anniversary of this exercise in discipline masquerading as an exercise in photography.  but the tsunami in Japan happened and put things in perspective; talking about photography seemed a trivial and silly thing to do at the moment.

so, I am instead taking a moment to think about life and how short it is.  it’s always a struggle to balance the time spent trying to go somewhere with our lives and the time spent standing still and enjoying our lives.  when to stop becoming and start being is the riddle that I don’t know anyone solves quite right.

hanging out with CounterPoint

Posted in 5D Mark II, Music, Photography by firthefirst on March 7, 2011

posting some of the informal shots that I took of CounterPoint before their benefit concert last week that I decided not to upload into the original post here since it would have been a little … incongrous with the mood.  even though they always look so serious when they’re peforming/searching for sheet music they are actually a really fun and laid back bunch.  even Danielle smiles … sometimes.  proof below: (more…)

friday [top] gear day

Posted in 5D Mark II, Cars, Defrag, Photography by firthefirst on March 4, 2011

it’s hard not to notice a shelby cobra sitting in any environment, but its especially hard when the only thing competing for your attention is the baggage carousel.  I was a little curious about the crew that had put this car together for display, and with the power of google I discovered that Factory Five Racing actually does a number of kit cars based on true classics.  clearly they have a love for Shelby cars (meaning clearly they have really good taste).  take a look at the incredible Type 65 Coupe (really a renamed Shelby Daytona).  it’s been a long, long time since I’ve looked at a car and thought “I would piss away exorbitant amounts of money to own that thing” but the shelby daytona makes you do just that.  turns out it’s not that expensive … but you have to know how to put a car together.  time to get back to practicing with the wee model versions.

CounterPoint for Chris4Life

Posted in 5D Mark II, Music, Photography by firthefirst on March 3, 2011

it’s been a CounterPoint double-header this week, with a private performance on Monday stacked back-to-back with a benefit concert for Chris4Life, promoting colon cancer awareness month.  it’s not a glamorous subject but it’s an important one that impacts a surprising number of people, and CounterPoint delivered an incredibly moving and intense performance to commemorate those who have suffered from the disease and to inspire those who are still fighting it.  some powerful use of multimedia (which doesn’t get done nearly enough in the classical world) in solo performances by Danielle and Jory made it a really memorable evening. (more…)

snow in stowe

Posted in 5D Mark II, Photography, Stowe, Vermont by firthefirst on March 2, 2011

untouched snow has its own majesty, a sort of magic to the human eye and mind.  it’s pretty fundamental psychology: like a lot of other animals, we are mentally hardwired to be attracted to bright and glittery things, like diamond, gold, and metallic-coated chevrolet stingrays.  our visual system is also designed to make glittery objects seem bigger than they actually are (probably to more effectively induce us to pursue them), which means what you see in reality looks totally different than what you see when you whip out your pocket camera and try to snag a shot.

the cool thing about powder is that not only is it great to ski/board on, it’s also flat and fluffy enough that you can see a surprising amount of detail in the snow with your own eyes, and the hexagonal stars are crystal clear.  still tough to shoot on the camera without an MP-E 65 (which sounds like a weapon, but it’s really just a Canon) but I gave it a go anyway… (more…)

Local 121

Posted in 5D Mark II, Food, Photography, Providence, Rhode Island by firthefirst on March 1, 2011

I’m doing this to be cruel to myself because I am starving already but the hour hand hasn’t even hit onze on the dial yet.  why?  penance of some sort for … something, I guess.  there must be something.  I’ve received a number of pseudo-compliants about the amount of food-porn on the blog and I suppose that must be why I feel compelled to tease myself in return.  today’s culinary ecstasy/torture is brought to you courtesy of kelly, who took me and tina out to Local 121 in Providence to escape a dramatic rainstorm in the throes of a late-season oscar nomination attempt. (more…)