Long lens photography

I’ve got a new long lens and I’m going back to birding. Not that I maintain a life book (a journal of birds seen over a lifetime) or anything, but it gets me out of the house.

I took this late this afternoon out my back door. It’s just a mockingbird shot with a Canon 80d and a Tamron 150-600mm at 450mm, f8, iso 400, exposure 1/640. It’s not too bad for handheld, with a camera/lens combination I’m none too familiar with. –It didn’t hurt that the light was near perfect for the shot.

mockingbird on a  wire

When I bought my 80d I also bought the cheapest long Tamron (about $900), then I wound up using my 18-135mm kit lens for almost everything.

Now I need to practice with this little beastie.

The 150-600mm (240-960mm on a crop sensor) lens is f5-f6.3 and weighs just over 4lb. It’s 10.5″ long at 150mm and you can add about 4″ for the hood. But fully extended, at 600mm including the hood it’s approximately 17″ long. This means that whenever you carry it, you should lock the lens at 150mm, or it will extend to full length anytime you point it downhill. –Maybe you’re more graceful than I am, but that extra 3″ means I’ll bump into all sorts of stuff.

Another thing about long lenses that bugs me is the bokeh. At a distance it’s great, but up close, especially with a busy background, it makes me crazy.

This Virginia Rail surprised me while I was out shooting cormorants at the wetlands. My Sigma 300-800mm was at 500mm f8, and I managed to get one decent shot of the critter at a distance of something like 10 yards.
Virginia Rail taken with Sigma 300-800mm
Notice the squiggly bushes and the gravel.

Still, it’s the best shot of a rail I’ve ever taken. Okay, so it’s the only shot of a Virginia Rail I’ve ever taken. At least I got one.

Future super hero in training at the park

Future super hero in training.

I know I’ve posted this before, but I still think it’s funny.

This is just some guy I saw at the park. But these photos clearly demonstrate why it’s probably a bad idea to go to a public park by yourself if you’re going to practice, whatever the heck he was practicing.

Future super hero posing right.
hero pose right

Future super hero posing left.
hero pose left

Future super hero forward stretch (probably best left to super models.)
hero pose

Future super hero realizing he’s been caught on camera.
hero pose 2

A final thought: in a public park you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. So think before you pose… Just saying.

Promote yourself on social media 101

This is a fast and dirty post on where to promote yourself online. Read it only if you want a larger audience. But, if you’re like me and really don’t give a shit, you need to know a bit about this stuff because people are obsessed with the “internet.” So read it anyway, because knowing this shit will make you sound smarter and more involved than you really are.

Here’s the list complete with descriptions by way of Wikipedia.

  • Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters. –Ask Trump how well it works for self-promotion.
  • Facebook is the world’s largest online social media and social networking site. It’s so vast a network it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but once you get established you can develop a huge following.
  • Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and Internet-based photo-sharing application and service that has 48649302 likes on Facebook.
  • Pinterest is a web and mobile application startup that operates a software system designed to discover information on the World Wide Web, mainly utilizing images.. CEO Ben Silbermann summarized the company as a “catalog of ideas.”
  • Linkedin is a business- and employment-oriented social networking service
  • YouTube is an American video-sharing website
  • Google+ (Google Plus) is Google’s attempt at social networking.
  • Medium is an example of social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications.
  • Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website.

If you’re going to use these for promoting your latest book, website, or wax eloquent about your latest epiphany, you need a profile picture, because people are more comfortable is they think they know the person they’re talking to.
(If you’re going to take a picture off the web, don’t use anyone famous. That means Fabio, Elvira, and that smokin’ hot chick you saw on Facebook, are right out.)

These are the basic sizes.

  • Twitter profile picture size: 400px x 400px
  • Facebook profile picture size: 170px X 170px
  • Instagram profile picture size: 110px x 110px
  • Pinterest profile picture size: 150px X 150px
  • LinkedIn profile picture size: 400px x 400px
  • YouTube profile picture size: 800px x 800px
  • Google+ profile picture size: 250px x 250px
  • Medium profile picture size: 400px x 400px
  • Tumblr profile picture size: 128px x 128px

Here are two sites that are excellent sources for learning the basics of promoting your site.
Google Garage
Godaddy Garage

None of this is hard. Hell, even I’ve got Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. And I’m probably the least social individual on social media.
All you’ve got to do is do it. –Remembering not to post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see; because the internet is forever.

One last note: If you’re going to have forms or logins on your site invest in an SSL or Google will ding you big time.

Bump stocks and the Las Vegas shooter

Bump stocks 101. Or how to shoot a shitload of people without breaking a sweat.

I’ve been talking to people who were wondering just how in the Hell that lunatic -here in Las Vegas- managed to shoot that many people, at one time.

  • So, first we have approximately 22 thousand people packed together at an open air concert. –Aka: shooting fish in a barrel.
  • Next we have a room with a view. –32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.
  • Then we have a gun show in town, so nobody thought it was weird that some guy brought a shit load of firearms to his room
  • And lastly; “Apparently,” he looked and acted like any other hotel patron. He had no known history of mental illness. He had no connections to any known death-to-America groups. And he didn’t show any outward changes in speech or behavior.

As a general rule, Jihadist will usually follow a pattern. They post on message boards, they send final letters to friends and family, and they follow radical teachings. etc. But this guy is the thing of nightmares. He blended in perfectly. He was white, he had enough money to be able to gamble regularly, and he passed any background checks with flying colors.

Sure he had 2 out of 23 rifles fitted with bump stocks, but the truth is, when shooting into a crowd of that size, the number of people wounded or killed would have been lower, but not that much lower, if he had brought 23 fully loaded lever action rifles. There simply isn’t any way to evacuate that many warm bodies without leaving them exposed for way too long.

But on to what will be blamed for the entire awful mess.

The now infamous bump stock.

Here’s how they work:
Bump stock animation

You pull the trigger and hold your finger in the pull position, while the stock slides back and forth, resetting the trigger and allowing the rifle to continue firing. It takes a bit of practice, but then it’s kind of cool. (Providing you can afford to feed the beast, at two full 30 round magazines a minute.)

These are NOT illegal. ATF has decided that these stocks, in spite of firing 45 – 60 rounds per minute, do not convert a rifle to an automatic weapon, because there is no change to the firing mechanism.

The problem is simple: It’s not about bump fire stocks, semi-auto rifles, hi-cap mags, or even gun control.

It’s about mental illness, social pressures, and all the problems that come from an over crowded planet leaving too many people in too small an area.

Have you ever noticed how rude the folks in the really crowded cities are? Well guess what. If you crowd rats together like that they develop the same problems. Only humans tend to do it voluntarily.

Get used to it folks. It’s only going to get worse.

Blog post title suggestions

What’s that? You want to write a blog post today? But you don’t know where to begin?

Is writer’s block winning? Have you run out of ideas? Does your head feel like it’s going to explode?
Would you rather be cleaning the bathroom?
Monse's cleavage

Well, maybe these fill-in-the-blank suggestions will give you that kick in the pants to get you writing again. –If not, at least your bathroom will be clean.

Amazing alternatives to ____________-ing.

Creative ways to make your ____________ even better.

Lessons that have changed the way I ____________.

Mantras to help you survive ____________.

The most beautiful ____________ in the world.

People who do ____________ better than anyone else.

People who have shaped and inspired the way that I ____________.

Questions to ask yourself before you ____________.

Quotes to inspire you to ____________.

Reasons to fall head-over-heels in love with ____________.

Reasons to give ____________-ing another shot.

Reasons your ____________-ing plan isn’t working out.

Reminders for times when you feel like ____________-ing.

Simple ways to spruce up your ____________.

Songs that will make you wanna ____________.

Surprising places to find your next ____________.

Terrible mistakes I made while ____________-ing — and what I learned from each one.

Things I love about ____________.

Things I no longer believe about ____________.

Things most people don’t know about ____________.

Things that are making me feel totally ____________.

Things to consider before making a decision about ____________.

Things to do when you need a break from ____________.

Truths about ____________ I wish I’d known, __ years ago.

Ways to ____________ on a budget.

Ways to ____________ when you’re totally bored of all the usual ____________.

Ways to attract more ____________ into your life.

Ways to create more ____________ in the world.

Ways to have more fun while you ____________.

Ways to simplify the way you ____________.

A behind-the-scenes tour of my ____________.

A can’t-mess-it-up checklist for your very first ____________.

___ Things to do before it’s time for ____________.

Everything I know about ____________ I learned from ____________.

Good news! ## reasons to smile and be happy about ____________.

How I scored a chance to ____________. (And how it changed my ____________.)

How to ____________ even if you don’t think you’re “ready.”

How to ____________ like nobody’s ever ____________-ed before.

How to ____________ when everything totally ____________s.

How to ____________ when you’re a complete beginner.

How to ____________ without ruining anyone’s life. (Or your own.)

How to ____________ without spending a dime.

How to bounce back after a shocking and unexpected ____________.

How to choose the right ____________ for your ____________.

How to cope when ____________ doesn’t approve of your ____________.

How to get the most out of your next ____________.

How to have a conversation with your ____________ about ____________.

How to persuade your ____________ to help you ____________.

How to prevent ____________ from ever happening to you. (Or happening again.)

How to profoundly impress your ____________s, every time.

How to soothe your ego when nobody wants to ____________ with you.

How to spend less time doing ____________ (and make more time for ____________.)

How to transform your ____________ into a ____________.

I met my hero, ____________! Here’s what I learned.

My up-close-and-personal conversation with ____________.

Oops! You screwed up your ____________. ___ ways to fix it.

Read this the next time you’re desperately longing for ____________.

Read this the next time you’re doubting your ability to ____________.

Read this the next time you’re ready to give up on ____________.

So, you gave ____________-ing a shot? Didn’t work out? ## things to try next.

So, you think you want to ____________? ## pieces of advice.

Terrified about ____________-ing? __ Comforting words of advice.

The ____________ guide to ____________-ing.

The ## best decisions I ever made about ____________.

The #1 question that every ____________ asks me.

The #1 reason that nobody’s interested in your ____________. (Yet.)

The downside of ____________-ing — and how to do it differently.

The dark, deep, scandalous secret that ____________ wishes you knew about ____________.

The easiest, simplest, happiest way to ____________.

The last time I ever ____________-ed. (And why I’ll never do it again.)

The story of that one time I ____________-ed, and lived to tell the tale.

The surprising connection between ____________ and ____________.

The top ## ways to ____________.

Totally bored of ____________? ___ things to try, instead.

Totally freaked out about ____________? __ reasons to relax.

Totally obsessed with ____________? __ things you’ll love, even more.

What ____________ taught me about ____________.

What I tell myself when I really don’t feel like ____________-ing.

What it REALLY means to ____________.

What to wear to your very first ____________.

Why ____________ matters to me.

Why absolutely nothing is wrong with your ____________.

Why being ____________ is a surprisingly good idea.

Why I’m no longer satisfied with ____________ — and what I’m doing about it.

Why that terrible ____________ is actually a blessing.

Why there’s more than enough ____________ to go ’round.

Why we’re all desperately waiting for you to ____________.

Why you should get out of your own way and ____________ already.

Get out there and write the ____________-iest blog post that ever ____________-ed.

And have a ____________ day.

Ain’t it amazing how many of these can be completed with the words blog, fuck or sex?