Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Blown Away!

Sorry if I keep going on about it but I just can't believe how good my new lens is. I have been out with it now on three consecutive evenings and although it is late in the day and the light levels are somewhat questionable it has performed absolutely brilliant. However, I don't really appreciate just how awesome it is until I get home and review my images on the computer. Initially after the first time of use I put it down to coincidence, but surely not after three nights on the trot? 

It performs beautifully in tandem with my Canon 7D body, hey I trash all those on-line reviews that say this combination is no good, they don't know what they are talking about, or maybe how to use it? In comparison to my previous own/used lenses this is definitely premier league, maybe even Barcelona!!  For three nights running now my post processing has been at an absolute minimum, no lengthy spells correcting exposures, noise, sharpness etc etc. My "keeper" rate has gone from around 50% to a whopping 80 or even 90%. Obviously the focal length of 500mm has made a huge difference with respect to detail compared to my previous used Sigma 300mm, especially when the conversion factors of the 7D body are taken into account. But, I was expecting  a compromise on quality with this additional focal length, oh that's on the contrary, viewing through my eyes I would say the quality is improved some 50%. The other amazing discovery is when an image is cropped, with previously used lenses this was a dodgy exercise, a balance between getting an image that is cropped enough so the subject matter can be seen but not too much otherwise the image becomes too grainy and the quality drops off a cliff. But not with this baby, even very heavy crops don't seem to suffer too much, oh how I wish I'd been able to afford this piece of kit years ago!

Anyway, enough of my very amateurish review, here are a few more images that were taken last night.

This first image is from my site No 92  near to the village of Gilmorton, the light levels weren't too bad but from they were coming from the wrong direction, ie from behind the subject. However, the image stabilization kicked in whilst hand holding and I was still able to pick out enough detail to make the image more that usable. 


At the next location (my site No 224 near to the village of Walcote) the setting sun was coming from a more favorable direction, but due to the distance involved there was a lot of distracting foliage and branches in the frame on the original image. A very heavy crop resulted in the final image showing just the focal subject (the owl) poking its head out of its nest hole. Utterly amazed how there was still more than enough detail to make it my favorite image of the evening. 


This last location I visited was my oldest "live" site No 4 near to the village of Sharnford. By now the light levels were atrocious but the lens kept producing the goods with the capture of the resident pair of owls perched together.


One of the owls (the hen) dropped down onto a lower branch which due to the darker background made for exposing the image a little easier.


Then hen owl then flew across and landed in the entrance to the nest hole. It was 6.29pm and almost dark. The camera settings were at ISO 1000 with a shutter speed of 1/50th second, not a bad result considering the conditions.


I have to admit that during the writing of this post eight bottles of lager were consumed whilst listening to my new Ella Henderson CD, yes a bit emotional and that may have been expressed in the content, but hey I am only human, albeit a wobbly one!!

Catch up soon folks..........

14 comments:

  1. I admit when I went from my Sigma to Canon I couldn't fathom the difference. But I am guessing it's down to the quality of the actual glass inside. I also believe the IS system is key to the low light results....could you be tempted by a 600mm lol

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    1. Yes I'd love a 600mm Doug, but I am more than happy with the 500mm for the next 25 years!!!!

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  2. You are spot on regarding the 500f4, Paul...and that is why I'll never part with mine, it's quality glass!!

    Loving the latest LOwl shots :-)

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    1. Yes too true Andy, just loving it!!!

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  3. Great images Paul, I'm glad your enjoying your new toy.....

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    1. Oh yes mate I am loving it, just in time for our trip to Scotland!!

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  4. Excellent photos! Congratulations!
    Best regards from Poland :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Dzial, and best regards to you too!

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  5. Stunning images mate, its the same old story mate you get what you pay for, I might start doing some overtime and save up for one of the white lenses!!!!!!!!!!!!!hahaha

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    1. Worth every penny Col, just don't go out for any indian meals for 10 years, that should pay for one!

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  6. Excellent series of images as usual ..
    Great

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    1. Thank you so much Ana, high praise indeed from someone who I hold in high esteem in the photography world.

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  7. Hi Paul - Sigma are good but when compared directly to Canon or Nikon there are big differences, as you'd expect by the price you are paying :-) But well worth it as you are finding out; keep taking the pics and sending them in
    Steve Young

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    1. Yes I am now beginning to find that out for myself Steve. I guess I knew that all along but was in denial because I couldn't afford a Canon........But hey I got one now!!!!!

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