I took a rare day off from projects around the house and drove to the La Jolla Cove with my nephew Chris to take pictures. I wanted to try out some new equipment and techniques.
Last week I had LOTS of warblers chasing flying insects at my house and I tried chasing them with my D5 and my biggest lens. It was impossible to follow their movements with my eye in the viewfinder. I knew of a “dot sight” that allows you to keep your eye on the whole scene and still keep the camera on target. Nikon recently added such a product, and I got one. This day I would try it out. I learned I still need to refine my technique, but I found the sight system very usable.
I also had been planning to test out hand holding my 70-200 with a doubler mounted to my D500 to keep things light and agile. I usually carry my 400mm+2x+D5+tripod on such expeditions. I concluded the lighter equipment has its place in my repertoire, but for the best possible results, the bigger set up with the tripod is clearly better. However, I got some good shots with the lighter setup.
One thing that seemed to bother the image quality with the setup I used (hand holding), was blurring on some shots I thought should be better. I attribute the problem to my technique in one of two ways (or both). I could be swinging the camera around too aggressively for the VR circuits to compensate. The other possible answer could be with the focusing choices I made while using the dot-sight. I need to remember to lock the focus area to center frame while I use the sight. The camera’s focusing system is so sophisticated it can track a subject within the frame. If this is the case I have two solutions I could try. (1) I can lock the focus group at center frame, or (2) I can train myself to re-center the focus after each shot sequence. I have some doubts about each solution. With option #1 I might lose focus if my first shots are off target or if I drift off subject during a sequence. Option #2 would allow the camera technology to follow the subject within the frame during a sequence, but if my first shot misses the subject, the entire sequence might be for naught. I must run some tests to see if either of these approaches yield better results.
The surprise of the day was the huge surf. I’ve been almost 70 years coming to La Jolla, though not daily. I’ve never seen surf break at the Cove like it was this Monday.