Yes, this is a crummy picture, but let me tell you how it was made. First, those are indeed Sandhill Cranes, flying north from their overwintering refuge along the Rio Grande about 2.5 hr by car south of my house. My house is near places where rising air currents are common. The huge migrating flocks of cranes try to catch these thermals above my house. The thing to note is that the birds are migrating in the middle of January. We are still only halfway through winter, but the birds are moving north. More global warming?
The reason for the crummy picture - these birds were moving dots to me, way up in the sky. But I have a really remarkable camera, a Nikon P1000. It has a zoom telephoto lens, such that the optics start at what would be a 24 mm lens in the older system of "35 mm" photography to a 3000 mm telephoto lens. That is, in the old days, I would be somehow using a telephoto lens that was 10 FEET long. My Nikon P1000's lens racked out to be a 3000 mm lens is 50 cm (9.8 inches) long. The laws of optics have not changed. I can't understand how those Nikon magicians have manage to stick 3 meters of optics into a 50 cm space. All I can think of is mirrors, but it's hard to imagine what might compensate for all the light loss from all the reflections. Another miraculous thing: this is a hand held picture. You might have guessed from the blurriness of the birds, but I can't believe that anything looking like a bird would be obtained at all, never mind a bird identifiable as a Sandhill Crane could be captured with the old film system. It turns out that this camera has a built in "Vibration Reduction" capability. I'm overstressing its capability here beyond reason. Having grown up photographically, so to speak, in pre-digital times, I marvel at the capabilities of the modern digital camera. Even if I could have found a 10 foot telephoto lens and begged to borrow it back then, there is no way, not even with luck the level of winning the lottery, that this picture, imperfect as it is, could have been taken. I would have had to stabilize the camera plus lens by maybe many of tons of concrete. I heard the cranes overhead and hurried into the house to grab the camera. Outside I had to listen carefully to find the birds, almost invisible up in the shy. I grabbed an infinity focus off Santa Fe Baldy, about 40 miles away and I had to use my light meter setting of this same mountain. The reason for the underexposure in this picture is that the spot meter read the white snow on that mountain 40 miles away. I managed to find the birds in my electronic viewfinder, and took the picture.
All my recent flower pictures have been taken by this camera, handheld. I've never bothered with a tripod because the "VR" system is so competent. I can take handheld closeups with very long shutter speeds (1/10 second or so) because the "VR" is that good.(32/32)
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