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A weird looking swallow

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Probably not a swallow

This is the period when swallows start to show up in Yilan and get ready to prepare their nests. They’ve been flying around for a few days now, looking for a mate and a safe place to lay eggs in the coming future.

More likely to be a swallow

It’s a great period for them, the warming weather leads to gazillions of mosquitoes breeding in the now floodes rice fields.

More likely to be a swallow

Needless to say, packs of swallows attract the interest of larger birds. There’s a fair amount of birds of prey in Taiwan, including many species of eagles, buzzards and such. Some of them live in the proximity of rice fields and live off small mammals, lizard and such, while close to the mountains there are larger birds.

Now this is the part where I’m supposed to reveal the species of the bird in the first image and explain what it does for a living. I have no clue.

It’s a falcon-eagle-buzzard looking flying thing, and it was smaller than the large eagles I see when I head to the mountains. I’ll update the post when I find out what it was.

On a technical note: taking pictures of swallows is a bloody pita. The falcon eagle thing was cool, it came flying in my direction in a straight line and I was able to take several shots before it steered away. Swallows on the other hand look like they’re on drugs ALL-THE-TIME. All images are very heavy crops because 300mm for birds is a bit too short, but I don’t see myself getting a longer lens in the near future.

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A shotr cycling trip to Turtle Island (Toucheng)

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Last weekend the weather was…well…it sucked less than usual, so we took our bikes for a 45kms trip to Toucheng beach, in front of Turtle Island.

The GoPro was mounted on my helmet and the lens got foggy due to my sweat -_- Also, it’s an old model and the battery lasts next to nothing, so instead of taking a proper movie I made a timelapse. It looks a bit weird during the ride, but I like the moving clouds on Turtle Island at the end.

Baby Dragonfly

Today a baby dragonfly was having some rest on one of the lemon trees in my balcony. Swallows are back and will start nesting soon, tough time for flying critters.

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Rice field dogs growing

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Rice field dogs, growing up

What do you do when you just have a single leftover hot dog in the fridge? Bring it to your local rice field dogs, of course!

Rice field dogs, growing up

I still don’t understand why they keep barking at me when I bring them food. I’ve been bringing food to them and their parents for months, it’s not like they don’t know me. Usually I just drop the food, then sit back and let them eat while I take a few pics, yet they still bark at me, especially the one with ‘messy” hair that looks a bit like a rasta dog.

Rice field dogs, growing up

Aw, the lens front focused. Maybe I took the shot too quickly and it didn’t have enough time to focus properly, you can see the ground in front of the doggie is in focus while his eyes are not. Too bad. To be fair though, f2.8 at 200mm has very thin depth of field, so nailing the focus right on a moving subjects is not always easy.

Rice field dogs, growing up

In the other pics the are in focus is correct, so the missed shots are definitely user error. I had the feeling my 50mm f1.8 had some focu issues, but after printing a focus test chart I found that even wide open at f1.8 the area in focus is perfect. I guess the 200mm f2.8 is in the same situation, I need to make the lens has the time to focus corretly before taking the shot or chances are the subject will not be within the correct depth of field. Here in Taiwan they’d say:”慢慢來”, which basically means:”Take it slow”.

 

 

 

 

Some shots from Taipei, using a new lens

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There are (well,were…) two lenses that I’ve always had on my wishlist ever since I started using a Canon camera: the 135mm f2 L and the 200m f2.8 L.

While the former is a long time favorite of many and easy to find everywhere, the latter is a bit trickier to find, especially second hand.

I’ve been browsing Facebook groups for years. Buying and selling photography gear definitely helped my wallet, but I had never managed to spot a 200mm f2.8 L. Until last week!

A seller put one up at a very good price and I was lucky enough to be the first one to contact him. I managed to ben on that Facebook group just minutes after he opened the ad.

I have to admit 200mm is definitely not a walkaround friendly focal length. I knew this from the get go, I plan to use this lens mainly for portraits and low light shooting, but I definitely enjoyed spending a few minutes strolling around.

The biggest surprise for me was the the fact that even though this is a fairly old lens, it looked as new. Not a scratch, no sign of wear and a perfect front element thanks to a protection filter. I could make a decent profit from this lens, but I don’t think I’ll get rid of her anytime soon.