The new 70-300mm lens has been a bit tough to determine whether it was working properly since it first arrived. Originally, it was a camera firmware update that was the culprit for the lens and camera not “talking” to one another, and then I found that the old polarizer I had left over from the “film days” did not provide the sharpness I would like (maybe I’m too critical), so I ordered a circular polarizer and determined it was a bit sharper. However, while testing it, I found that after several shots, the wireless remote failed to trigger the shutter. At first I thought it was the original focus problem resurfacing, but instead, it seemed that the remote shutter release battery had failed, and when it was replaced with a spare from my bag, it began to fire again. Since I only needed a few more frames for the testing, I figured the problem was solved. But I wanted to give it another try out in the field the next morning with everything working properly to ensure there were no other issues that would impact the lens itself. With firmware and circular polarizer in place, along with an operating remote release, returning to the White Oak Marsh, I took three shots with the remote, and it again failed to trigger the shutter!! Now I was feeling really frustrated, but in one last attempt to get things working properly, I replaced the battery in the remote again with one I had placed in the bag for a spare…and it began working again. I figured that I had probably replaced the battery once before, put the old battery back in the bag and had forgotten to replace it with a new, fresh battery. I had replaced the dead battery the day before with another dead battery!! So now, with everything working as intended, I could concentrate on the spring buds at White Oak Marsh again without any distractions from the equipment. Finally, it seemed the lens worked fine without any reservations.
I was glad to get the remote working again because I found during the last fiasco that even tripping the shutter with the self-timer caused a bit of blur when zoomed out to the full 300mm. Using a remote release with the mirror lock-up keeps things razor-sharp, and that is the preferred method with every shot, no matter what lens is in use. With the mist rising from the marsh waters as the sun came up over the far tree line, it was backlit by the sun and keeping it out of the frame eliminated the need for two or more differently exposed frames because of the tonal range being too great to capture in a single frame; and since there were no clouds in the sky, the sun would detract from the focus on the rising mist.
The extra reach and more narrow angle of view of the 300mm really helped in keeping the bright sky out of the images that morning, and in getting closer to the subject, utilizing the full sensor rather than losing a portion of it due to cropping. While I was photographing, someone pulled up and came over mentioning that there were a mating pair of osprey in a nest that I hadn’t seen. Wildlife is not something I usually photograph, but you take advantage of it when it’s right there in front of you. And with the 300mm, I was able to get in much closer than the 200mm would have managed, so I switched hats for a moment and tried to get a good angle with some spring buds in the background slightly out of focus to make the snag, nest and birds stand out. Although there was still a need to crop a little, without the extra reach of the 300mm, I probably wouldn’t have even made the attempt.
This day, with spring moving forward from the last visit a few days earlier, some initial green shoots were added to the mix along with the red buds of some maples. It was difficult to navigate the chaos and selectively frame something showing them both, but with the early sunlight filtering through the trees, it lit some of them like a spotlight, creating a nice line of them through the frame. In some ways, the flat lighting just before the sunlight begins to creep into the scene is much easier to record, but still difficult to frame all the various elements into a cohesive composition. Sometimes a single frame doesn’t work and two or more are needed to create a balanced image as was the case for the one at the top of the post. By taking two frames and stitching them together with software, a balance of red buds surrounding the orange ones in the center was achieved where a single frame would have lost that balance and symmetry.
So now it appears that the new lens will take over the spot of the older lens with assurances that it seems to work fine. I look forward to using it as springs continues to advance. This season always seems to have something to offer for the photographer and I often feel a preference for spring over autumn. Until autumn arrives!!