Author Topic: Whitefish Point and Raptors  (Read 315 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Whitefish Point and Raptors
« on: March 09, 2022, 19:00:11 »
As some readers may know, I am a nature photographer and have been since 1956. I have never turned pro because it was not the best way for me to make money and support my family. Instead, I have been a systems programmer, database engineer, and archivist of popular culture (music, film, rock concert posters, etc.). Yet close-up photography has been what I like to do when I have time. And since I am retired, I now have time. As spring begins to happen here in north-west Michigan, this year (at least I intend) to do more photography.

I have done some bird photography years ago. Here is a pretty shabby example, a Pileated Woodpecker leaving its nest taken years ago. As winter turns into spring this year, I am planning on upping my game on bird photography, or at least trying to. With that in mind, I am already packing my kit and readying my gear. It gives me something to do right now while the snow continues to pile up and the winds blow just outside my window. My wife likes to tease me and say that I start looking for spring around the winter solstice as the Sun starts to move northward.

One thing Margaret (my wife) and I intend to do in the next month is travel across the Mackinac Bridge into the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan and on to the northern (and most eastern) tip of the state to a place called Whitefish Point. This is where many of the great raptors (eagles, etc.) plus hoards of other birds funnel up the coast, reached Whitefish Point, and pause before they head out across Lake Superior to nest in Canada and lands north.

Over a month or two, great flocks of birds narrow in on the point and dare to cross open water. As mentioned, sometimes they stop and rest before crossing. I’m sure I would!

Anyway, we plan to go up there, where they have official raptor and other birds counters…counting birds crossing over, and hang out for a day or two, just watching the great raptors passing over. Since I am a close-up photographer, I don’t have many long telephoto lenses. I have one on order, but it’s been back ordered already for a while. It if comes I will have a Nikon Z 100-400mm S lens, plus I have a 1.4 teleconverter giving me a 560mm lens, which is good enough for some bird work. I also have the NIkkor Z 70-200mm S lens, which takes the same 1.4 teleconverter, giving me a 280mm view. I will bring a gimbal and perhaps I can do something.

I also have a Nikon Z9 camera on order, but doubt it will show up either, so I can use my Nikon Z7 II or my D850. I may not get any photos, and instead just chat and hang out with the bird-counters who will have their own lenses, gimbals, and tripods. I mostly just want to see the golden and bald eagles, plus some of the hawks, in quantity, and enjoy that.

I will along bring close-up lenses because there may be a few spring flowers trying to poke through around then. These I can handle. If any of you are experienced raptor monitors or have been to Whitefish point, glad to hear any tips about the journey and what gear I need to have.
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Bruno Schroder

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Re: Whitefish Point and Raptors
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2022, 20:36:50 »
I like your project a lot, Michael.

I can't help with raptors or with the location having shot only in Europe. Can't help with the gear as I'm using a D500 and the 500/5.6 PF.

On birds, I shot several times the big crane migration in November at Lac du Der in France. they are in the same size league as big raptors but have a more dynamic flying pattern, I started with a gimbal but soon moved to hand held to better follow the birds and frame rapidly. Their flight pattern is very different than raptors. We mostly wait for them at dawn. One morning, there were 80.000 cranes on the lake, all taking off at the same moment and flying over us at low altitudes. AT dusk, when they come back or arrive to the lake, they are flying in smaller groups, sometimes a single family group, 2 adults and one or two fledglings. All that to say that your circumstances will most probably be very different. On big raptors, my experience is mostly with White Tail Eagles in spring (mostly distant sightings, some hunting moments, some feeding) and in summer post nesting (closer sightings but mostly perched). Again, I mostly stuck with the 500/5.6 PF on D500.

Nevertheless, having tried various focal length (300 to 600), I'm firmly settled on 500mm on D500 or on D750. I occasionally use the 1.4 extender but much less than I initially thought.

Good luck, waiting for your pictures.
Bruno Schröder

mxbianco

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Re: Whitefish Point and Raptors
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2022, 16:26:47 »
The two tele/zoom lenses you mentioned are both Nikkor-Z, so you can't use them on the D850.

If you haven't other F-mount tele alternatives, you might as well leave the D850 behind! But then you have plenty of macro lenses where the D850 can be useful...

Having 47Mpix, both the Z9 and the Z7 can be used in DX-mode having a sufficient resolution (around 25 Mpix). The EVF works differently from the D850 finder, the cropped image is shown on the full extent of the EVF (quite useful IMO), while the D850 shows a red border around the DX-crop area, you may get the impression that you framed the image correctly only to find out that the relevant part was outside the cropped part. I prefer the way Z-series cameras work, showing the actual cropped image instead of the bordered image.

Ciao from Massimo


Since evolution has given us TWO ears and ONE mouth, we are supposed (me included) to be doing more listening than talking.

Michael Erlewine

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Re: Whitefish Point and Raptors
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2022, 16:51:01 »
The two tele/zoom lenses you mentioned are both Nikkor-Z, so you can't use them on the D850.

If you haven't other F-mount tele alternatives, you might as well leave the D850 behind! But then you have plenty of macro lenses where the D850 can be useful...

Having 47Mpix, both the Z9 and the Z7 can be used in DX-mode having a sufficient resolution (around 25 Mpix). The EVF works differently from the D850 finder, the cropped image is shown on the full extent of the EVF (quite useful IMO), while the D850 shows a red border around the DX-crop area, you may get the impression that you framed the image correctly only to find out that the relevant part was outside the cropped part. I prefer the way Z-series cameras work, showing the actual cropped image instead of the bordered image.

Ciao from Massimo

I still have my D850, but don't use it much. I sold my Z7 and now us the Z7 II until my Z9 arrives.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com

mxbianco

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Re: Whitefish Point and Raptors
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2022, 17:44:34 »
I still have my D850, but don't use it much. I sold my Z7 and now us the Z7 II until my Z9 arrives.

I was replying to your sentence:
...
I also have a Nikon Z9 camera on order, but doubt it will show up either, so I can use my Nikon Z7 II or my D850 [can't use it with Zee lenses!].
...

Z7 and z7II are functionally interchangeable, except for the presence of the double memory slot. I use the terms interchangeably, maybe I should use Z7x, but then my sentences look too much like math equations  :)

Ciao from Massimo
Since evolution has given us TWO ears and ONE mouth, we are supposed (me included) to be doing more listening than talking.

Michael Erlewine

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Re: Whitefish Point and Raptors
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2022, 17:55:20 »
I was replying to your sentence:
...
I also have a Nikon Z9 camera on order, but doubt it will show up either, so I can use my Nikon Z7 II or my D850 [can't use it with Zee lenses!].
...

Z7 and z7II are functionally interchangeable, except for the presence of the double memory slot. I use the terms interchangeably, maybe I should use Z7x, but then my sentences look too much like math equations  :)

Ciao from Massimo

Understand that. I also have telephotos for the the Nikon-F mount, just not as good as the new S lenses.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com