Red-eared Slider Laying Eggs

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Female Turtle
Red-eared Slider, 2009-07-26

Found this one up a hill in Mason Park last weekend. She climbed quite a ways from the ponds to find a spot to lay her eggs.

Black Phoebe

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Black Phoebe on rock by water
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
William R. Mason Regional Park, 2009-07-26
Canon EOS 50D, Tamron 28-300mm DI VC Zoom, f/8.0, 1/500s, 300mm

Moth Monday: Garden Tortrix Moth

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Garden Tortrix Moth, Clepsis peritana, Hodges 3688
Irvine, CA, 2009-07

Today’s moth is a fairly commons species, and comes to light on my balcony fairly often; but it’s also relatively small at just over a centimeter. This photo is several times actual size. I didn’t get a decent photo of one until quite recently. It’s a pest of strawberry farms, and although Orange County is mostly paved over these days, there are still a few farms dotted around here and there including Tanaka Farms just a couple of miles down the road from me.

The Best Walk-around Zoom Lens for a Canon DSLR

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I’ve had it for about six months now and given it more than a fair shake, but ultimately I’m not happy with the Tamron AF28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) I got for my primary lens for the EOS 50D. When I put this lens on, I want to be able to shoot at the long end, and I spend a lot more time there than at the short end. Unfortunately it’s just not nearly sharp enough for my tastes at 300mm. Even on a tripod with image stabilization turned on, it needs a shutter speed below 1/400s, ISO no bigger than 200, and aperture f/8.0 to f/11.0 or thereabouts to achieve adequate sharpness. That’s just too limiting. Even then, it’s far from perfect. I’ve gotten a few good shots with it like this Snowy Egret in Mason Park in March, but that’s about it:

Snowy Egret perched

Outside direct sunlight, it really doesn’t perform well at all. In fact, this image stands out precisely because it is so sharp. By contrast, I routinely get images that sharp while handholding my non-stabilized Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, like this Great Blue Heron from San Joaquin a few months later:

Great Blue Heron close-up

Most of my Tamron shots end up looking like this American White Pelican from the Salton Sea instead:


So I think it’s time to look for a new general purpose zoom lens. What are my options?

Children of Star Trek

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Children of Earth just finished on BBC America last night, and despite having to get up at 5:15 A.M. this morning for a marsh census, I couldn’t avoid staying up to watch it. Wow. Russell T. Davies surpassed himself and reached new levels of creepiness with this one.

Sadly it was marred by an ending that would have embarrassed a Star Trek TNG writer. Torchwood might as well have saved the day by reversing the polarity on the deflector shields. It was that bad. I can think of at least five preferable and more plausible endings: (Light spoilers follow)

Mystery Bird

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Gull with Curved Bill
San Diego County, California, February 28, 2009

Do you recognize this bird?