Tag Archives: Birds

My customers make great photographs. You can too!

Goluch Jays

This is a recent image made at my South Texas Bird Photography Workshop by Denver photographer, Richard Goluch. A repeat customer, Richard shot this aggressive pair of Green Jays from one of the permanent bird blinds at my last workshop in October. The jays always make good subject matter, but Richard was able to take it a step further, catching the in-flight squabble. Well done, Richard!

Workshop participants often return for an additional season. Here is a note from another repeat customer:

“Brian is a great teacher and host. He wants you to be successful and goes to great means to make sure that you are.  I really liked the ranch and the atmosphere of the hotel. “ G. Payne- Arkansas

My South Texas workshops are three to five days long and prices are most reasonable, including all meals, lodging, instruction and ranch fees. Our ranch has four purpose-built bird blinds, each with permanent water features, automatic feeders and plenty of birds. Additional, specially constructed blinds for shooting raptors provide added exciting and action-filled photographic opportunities. South Texas specialties like the jays above are plentiful.

Crested Caracara

Incoming Crested Caracara landing at the raptor blinds. Nikon D800, Nikkor 80-200 mm F 2.8 lens with 1.7 teleconverter. This is an ideal setup for shooting on this ranch. Many of the birds are 12-15 feet from the blinds. Raptors, about 15 yards.

Workshops are planned to take advantage of both spring and fall migration. The species count is now at seventy-seven species photographed. There are two slots remaining for the next workshop in late February, 2015.For more information, please see: www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html .

Copyright © 2014 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

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Understanding the myth of “Crop Sensor” cameras.

Why crop sensor cameras do not produce greater subject magnification than their full-frame brothers.

I am disturbed by a lot of talk over the last few years stating that cameras with “crop sensors” produce larger in-camera subject size to cameras with full frame sensors. This thinking is both incorrect and continues to mislead the photography world. I feel this misleading language comes from two camps: One, the marketing folks who try to tell us that with a 1.6 crop sensor our 200mm lens is now a 320mm lens. And two, the wildlife photographers who want large in-camera images and who use a crop sensor camera believing the crop sensor somehow produces greater subject magnification.

Let me provide a couple of examples of that talk:

“For nature, wildlife and sports enthusiasts, it might make more sense to stick with a smaller sensor. You can take advantage of the crop factor to get maximum detail at long distances.” http://digital-photography-school.com/full-frame-sensor-vs-crop-sensor-which-is-right-for-you/

 “…the Mark IV has the 1.3 crop factor and a higher megapixel count than the D3s, which are nice for telephoto work.” http://www.deepgreenphotography.com/the-gear/

 “Focal length measurements on lenses are based on the 35mm standard. If you are using a crop frame camera the sensor is cropping out the edges of the frame, which is effectively increasing the focal length. The amount of difference in the field of view or focal length with a crop sensor is measured by its “Multiplier.” And,

 “…while a crop sensor DSLR doesn’t provide the same level of image quality as a full frame DSLR, it does [offers] sic. major advantages when it comes to cost. It can also be very effective for telephoto photography for the extra reach gained from the crop sensor multiplier. For example, this can be very useful when shooting sports, wildlife, and other types of photojournalism…” both from: http://www.slrlounge.com/school/cropped-sensor-vs-full-frame-sensor-tips-in-2/

 First let me state two facts: One, images from crop sensor cameras are not inherently of lower quality than those of full-frame cameras and, two, crop sensor cameras produce exactly the same in-camera image magnification as do their larger full-frame brothers.

Before I take this discussion of why these facts are true, let’s understand some things about cameras and their sensors.

First, a full-frame sensor gets its name from the fact that is physical measurements are, in round numbers, 24 x 36 mm. That’s the same size of our old standby, the full-frame 35mm film negative or transparency.

Second, I truly believe that the term, “crop sensor” is a misleading term. It is simply a sensor that is smaller than the full frame cousin. And there are now several sizes of “crop sensors”. They range from the APS-C (15.7 x 23.6 mm), the APS-H (19 x 28.7 mm), four thirds systems (13 x 17.3 mm), and even smaller. So there is really no “Standard” when it comes to identifying a sensor size.

Now let’s talk about the lens for a moment, the image forming device that projects our picture on to the sensor. Lenses have several characteristics. They affect:

  • Image size. This is governed by the focal length. Longer focal lengths produce larger subjectdetail on the sensor at any given distance,
  • Angle of view. This is the area of coverage in front of the lens that the lens may capture and project on to the sensor. It too is governed by focal length. Shorter focal lengths produce a wider angle of view that longer focal length telephotos for example. And finally,
  • Perspective. This is a relationship of components within the image to others within the same image. Focal length affects perspective, but only when the lens-to-subject distance is changed.

Crop sensor-Example 1

Let’s look at the image above to understand the physical relationship. The large frame is that of standard 35 mm film and also that of a full frame digital sensor. The yellow outline represents the area and magnification of an APS-C sensor, similar to that of a Nikon D2X or D7100 series camera body. The image was taken with a Nikkor 80-200 mm F 2.8 zoom lens.

Lenses have physical characteristics in addition to the optical characteristics above. One that is most important here is lens flange-to-sensor distance. This is the physical distance from the rear mounting flange of the lens to the sensor. That distance is specific to allow the lens to be focused at infinity. This distance is somewhat different between manufacturers, but it is standard within a manufacturer family so that all lenses will work properly.

In order for a lens of any particular focal length to produce larger image details on the sensor, the lens must be moved farther from the sensor or closer to the subject. Since the flange-to-sensor distance must be the same for cameras of a particular brand, any given lens (of that brand) will produce an image of the same magnification at the sensor regardless of the sensor dimension. What changes is the area of the projected image, not its magnification.

So let’s look at how this works.

The set-up

A standard, single focal length 200mm prime telephoto lens is mounted on a tripod. A subject is placed at a constant, pre-measured distance from the lens for all images. And two camera bodies, Nikon D90 with its APS-C sensor and Nikon D800 with its full frame sensor, were used.

The Process

Two photos of a mounted scaled quail are made from the same spot. Nothing changes but the camera bodies. Both images are processed in Photoshop in the same manner. A new composite file was made using both images together. Each image was reproduced at the same magnification for comparison. The APS-C image is produced at a six times multiple of its actual size of 15.7 x 23.6 mm, and the full frame image is printed at the same six times multiple of its actual size of 24 x 36 mm.

The Result.

One can clearly see the subject is the same magnification on both sensors and the reproduction sizes of the bird are the same for both sensors. The full frame sensor on the left captures significant additional area than the smaller sensor. This is the source of the term “Crop Sensor”.

Crop-Full Comparison

Left: Full frame sensor, Nikon D800. Right: Nikon D90 APS-C sensor. Initial enlargement (left) = 6 times sensor length 36 mm x 6= 216 mm. Initial enlargement (right) = 6 times sensor length 23.6 mm x 6= 141.6 mm.

The Misconception

When both images are reproduced at the same dimensions, the APS-C subject is reproduced at a larger size. This is only because the image is blown up to be the same reproduction size. This is why some people think there is actual in-camera magnification increase.

When viewed in the camera through the viewfinder or in live-view the smaller sensor frame is filled with the subject at a given distance than the full frame sensor. Therefore, the APS-C camera appears to produce a larger image. This is simply because the frame is filled faster with any given focal length and subject distance. What actually happens here is that the APS-C (crop sensor) image is blown up to match the outer dimensions of the full frame image.

Same enlargement comparison

Left, Nikon D800 full frame sensor. Right, Nikon D90 APS-C sensor.

Image quality

Image quality is not entirely based upon image size at the sensor, but is based upon in-camera processing technology, pixel size and pixel density. Many “crop sensor” cameras have better sensors and processing engines than full frame cameras. But that’s another story. (Maybe later.)

Copyright © 2014 Brian K Loflin . All rights reserved.

Don’t miss: Two new South Texas bird photography workshops

SoTXComposite

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop •Laguna Seca Ranch Edinburg, Texas
• October 23-26, 2014
• February 27-March 1-2015

This instructional, hands-on bird photography workshop is located in the heart of the South Texas flyway. The October workshop features a half-day of hands-on instruction and a day and two and a half days of shooting (or a day and a half in February ) in some of the best South Texas birding habitat available where neotropical South Texas varieties abound.

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. The facilities of the 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for photography and preserved with all native species. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best use of light. A fifth blind is set up specifically for raptors.

Each location has been hand-crafted to provide the most outstanding bird photography opportunities. With nearly eighty species found on the property, Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a uniquely outstanding South Texas bird photography adventure! Many photographers have added numerous birds to their species life list while at the workshop. Read the website for their testimonials.

For more information, see: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html

Now only one spot left!

My newest South Texas Bird Photography Workshop takes off in just three and a half weeks. This four-day workshop is held at a great, purposed-designed birding ranch in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley and will be in high season for south Texas migrants and specialty species. There is a spot left for you and or a friend. For further details, please check out: The Nature Connection .

Read what a recent participant has to say:
“Thanks to Brian for the extensive preparation that he did for the South Texas bird workshop and always does for classes and meetings, as well. Brian has expansive knowledge and photographic expertise. On top of that, he is a very capable communicator and teacher who shows much interest in his students. He goes above and beyond what you would expect in order to make the learning experience worthwhile and memorable. Our South Texas trip was first rate!”
–N. Naylor, Austin, TX

SoTXComposite

Bird photography in the heart of South Texas

The Rio Grande Valley is a mecca for bird photographers from all over. Many come to capture images of species infrequently found in the USA except for this area. You can join in on this action, too! Image An example of the action is this roadrunner with a meal of butterflies, a very unusual sight. This bird and its activity was photographed last October by Nancy Naylor, one of my bird photography workshop participants from Austin.

My workshops are be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. Features of this 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for bird photography and preserved with all-native plants and animals. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best in photography. Another set of blinds are constructed specifically for raptors. Each location has been hand-crafted, and they all provide outstanding birding and photographing opportunities. With nearly eighty species listed on the property, Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a unique South Texas birding and photography adventure! At Laguna Seca Ranch we bring the birds to you!

We will set up natural perches considering the best photographic light possible. Most photography of the best scenarios is just 12-15 feet from your lens! Birds have water, dripping attractions and are fed year-round so attraction of the best species is stress-free.

There are only two spaces left for my next workshop, now  scheduled from February 6-9, 2014. If you want in on the great spring action in South Texas, you should check out this opportunity here: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html .

Texas photo workshops seem worlds apart

Happy New Year! To start the New Year out right, I will lead a series of nature photography workshops in 2013. While all are in Texas, the subject matter seems worlds apart. They range from an African wildlife photography workshop at
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and another wild bird photography workshop in far South Texas. Let’s start in order.

RGV Bird WS

The first workshop will be held on February 22-24 on the Laguna Seca Ranch in far south Texas only a few miles from Edinburg and the Mexican border. This ranch is a well established for bird photography with permanent blinds and water features. The timing of this workshop will allow the participants to capture images of south Texas and northern Mexico specialties, as well as migrant species. The details of this most economical workshop are found here: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html .

Gemsbok-0027

The next workshops feature Africa in Texas at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas. Four workshops will be featured in April, June, September and October on the 1,900 acre facility. One- and two-day workshops are offered, with the two-day workshop featuring lodging overnight at Safari Camp in the heart of the center’s wildlife preserve. For more information visit http://www.fossilrim.org/workshops.php.

All workshops feature copious hands-on instruction, plenty of great subjects and are limited in participant numbers to assure lots of individual attention. To download a flier for either of the workshops click on the link below:
South Texas Bird Photography Workshop:     RGV Bird Photography
Fossil Rim Wildlife Photography Workshop: FR WildlifePhotoWS

© 2013 Brian Loflin. All Rights reserved.

Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

I had the pleasure to lead a photography trip to this fabulous New Mexico birding hot spot for a few days in early December. Bosque del Apache NWR lies on the Rio Grande about halfway from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, NM. This National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing photography destination as it is the resting spot for migratory water fowl in late winter. The birds are there by literally tens of thousands, always an impressive sight! As it turned out, the weather was somewhat mild and photo perfect. I thought I would post a few images from the trip.

SHCrane-9298-Sm

One of nine thousand Sandhill cranes takes off in the early morning light. The birds slept overnight in a shallow pond right by the roadside. They would take off by ones and twos and in very large masses, often right over our head.

SandHill BIF-1166-Sm

With a wing span of six feet, Sandhill cranes are elegant fliers. They feed in dry fields during the day and return to shallow water at night. At Bosque del Apache the massive numbers of these large birds presented many photographic opportunities as well as a cacophony of sound as they vocalized to each other.

SnowGeeseLiftoff-1611

Snow geese were everywhere! Frequently they would take flight in an explosive liftoff by the hundreds. Often, they would circle and come right back. Later, they may explode again and move to another field or other part of the refuge system.

Dolph-Bird count-Sm

My good friend and photographer, Dolph McCranie with poster enumerating Bosque’s bird count for the time we were there. As you can see by the numbers, finding a subject was an easy task.

Bobcat-156-Sm

A bobcat was a very lucky find. This cat was stalking a small group of Mallard ducks when I spied it near a small canal. A slow, careful approach resulted in a relatively nice image.

CapBar-1496-SmBw

After shooting birds, many of the group photographed other sights in and around Socorro, NM, like the interior of the Capitol Bar, one of the oldest in the Southwest and in business since 1896.

All images Nikon D2Xs and Nikkor optics including 600 mm F 4, 80-200 mm F 2.8, 28-70 F 2.8 and 15 mm F 3.5.

© Copyright Brian Loflin 2012. All rights reserved.