Calling All Photographers

Osprey feeding time

Are you a picture-taker, or a photographer? What is the difference between a hobbyist and an amateur? Maybe you’re a professional who sells copies of your prints. How much of your skill can be attributed to the gear you use, or the intangible creative instinct that can see a picture before you even snap the shutter?

In this series called Project Osprey, I have learned that I don’t have the gear for birding, wildlife, or long distance photography.

As previously noted, my longest lens is a Canon EF 250mm (APS-C). My bridge camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200) has the length, but its 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor isn’t large enough to capture clear, crisp images of smaller, distant objects.

For perspective, this next image shows the distance between me and the Osprey nest. Cropping the original produces an unusable copy that is fuzzy and noisy — not worth showing even for comparison.

So close yet so far away

The next image shows the closest optical zoom (24x) using the FZ200.

Osprey nest atop light standard

I spent ten hours this weekend capturing photos and videos of the nest, but only one minute of video was usable. The photos were absolutely horrendous. The image above was taken after resetting the camera’s factory defaults.

Though the eye of the camera failed, my creative eye was able to see the beauty of the composition. With the help of a post-processing filter, I was able to salvage a handful of pictures.

It was disheartening to say the least, but we’ve all suffered this kind of disappointment, haven’t we? Especially when using a film camera, but those are stories for another day.

The following group of photos were captured with the  FZ200’s 48x digital zoom. Unfortunately, the originals were too fuzzy and noisy to share here.

Fledgling tests its flaps
Fledgling hovers above nest
Adult parent keeps watchful eye

Copyright © In Pics and Words

9 thoughts on “Calling All Photographers

  1. Dave, I like the way you turned ‘bad’ photos as you say into usable photos, nice! Sometimes flipping from color to BW or gray scale works too. I seriously need the 70-200mm lens for the new Nikon Z6 which has a 24-70 lens. A great lens but very limited zoom.

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    1. The kit lenses that were packaged with my camera are great for everyday use and vlogging, but a serious photographer needs specialized lenses for close-up and distance shots. Photography can become an expensive hobby. If it paid the bills then, yeah, I’d spend the money, otherwise … have you checked out refurbished lenses?

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    2. I wanted to add that the zoom on a bridge camera is very impressive. When you see the distance of the Osprey nest, and then look at the 48x images — well, you’d have to pay thousands for a DSLR lens to get that close. The trade-off, of course, is that the bridge camera sacrifices sensor size for distance — so, yeah, you can capture really close images, but they are unusable.

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  2. Hi David, i love shooting wildlife and many times we come across a photograph in the making but is outside the scope of our lens. I carry a pair of binoculars, so in cases like this i just enjoy viewing the wildlife. It’s learning about them and their environment that we can use to get better images. So my take is don’t beat yourself up about gear, just enjoy the moment.
    George ☘️

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    1. Thank you, George. This is something we can all relate to — not having the right lens for the shot, or deciding to leave the camera at home and missing opportunities.

      Years ago, I captured video of a motorized hang glider flying over the coast. (The clip is featured in my video in memory of John Denver.) Anyway, it all happened in the blink of an eye. I was actually set up to photograph surfers when I heard a low buzzing sound. There was no time to change the lens so I just pointed the camera towards the sky. The video was a bit shaky, and I always thought, “Man, if I ever get another chance …”

      Well, about a year ago, I headed out on a bike ride around the bay, but didn’t feel like slinging a camera bag over my shoulder. Not five minutes into the ride, I heard a low buzzing sound. It was not one, but two motorized hang gliders flying just off the beach. What a sight … and I didn’t have my camera with me!

      Not having the right gear is one thing, but leaving the camera at home is a different kind of frustration. And I still haven’t learned that lesson.

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  3. A few years back i had the chance to go up in a tandem motorised hang glider. Once off the ground i was left to fly it. Due to cloud we were restricted to 3000 feet. We crossed over Lough Neagh (Northern Ireland) There was hundreds of Mute Swans which would have make a great image from above. I always said i would go and do it again, only this time I’ll do the photography. ☘️

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