olympus 100-400mm lens test

olympus 100-400mm lens test

Taking the Olympus M. Zukio 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens out for a spin. I’m liking it.

2X teleconverter

One of my favorite parts of the 100-400 is being able to add the 2X teleconverter MC20. While I lament the f/13 aperture I enjoy the extended reach. The field of view is similar to a 1600mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. Makes getting more frame-filling images when photographing wildlife a whole lot easier.

dragonfly close-up image

100-400mm with 2x teleconverter on FotoPro Tripod

Here’s a close-up I was able to get of a dragonfly. It’s pretty amazing that it even shows the facets in the eyes. The camera was mounted on a Fotopro Eagle E6L Tripod with built-in gimbal head for easy adjustments as the little critters maneuver between reeds.


I was enjoying the dark skies of Sedona from my back patio. Just for fun I grabbed the 100-400mm 2X combo on the OM-D E-M1 Mark III and shot the moon.

1/2 moon photo

Incredible detail handheld 1600mm field of view.

Lens fully extended. Handheld at 1/400th of a second. After cropping down to the square I ended up with a file size about 2200 pixels.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob


Artist for 32nd annual festival of the cranes

Artist for 32nd annual festival of the cranes

Getting ready to head to New Mexico next week for the Festival of the Cranes held in Socorro and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve. (11/20-11/23) As the cover artist my crane art image will grace the cover of the brochure. In addition, it will be available for sale on T-shirts and coffee mugs. Sales of those items help support the friends of the Bosque and support the festival.

I’ll be on site with wildlife and avian art for sale, including prints of the cover art.

festival of the cranes art

Cover for the Festival of the Cranes

As always I’d be happy to chat with you about techniques, photography, and/or commissions. You can see more of my work by checking out my art site. coatesart.net

Yours in Creative photography,     Bob

good photos from the zoo – part two

good photos from the zoo – part two

Creating Good Animal Photos from a Captive Environment – Part Two

Last zoo post I was sharing some ideas on learning wildlife photography skills while photographing captive animals. See Part One here

great white egret photoI followed this Great White Egret until the reflection was completed from beak to tail. The black and white treatment brings the bird to the highest contrast attention

One of the essential skills is to learn to queue on behavior. This means learning to see when the behavior will change. What will happen when you look at the feathers shaking in a certain way or excrement fall from a bird. These are indicators that signal flight or a change of wing position and either of those can lead to a more interesting photograph.

tiger from the phoenix zoo photoProcessed this image to BW also. Slight sharpening of the tiger using Skylum software as an Adobe Photoshop plug-in. I also softened the foreground and background with a gaussian blur as well as a darkening Curves layer  Significant help for me that increased my ‘keepers’ in photographing images of animals in zoos, parks and in the wild was a lens that has a long reach. The micro 4/3rds Panasonic Lumix system has been an enormous help. Being able to handhold an 800mm equivalent lens makes a huge difference because of the mobility and distance from the animals. The less you disturb your prey and having the ability to still fill the frame is golden.

tree trunk photoDon’t lose sight of other opportunities when photographing wildlife. This split tree trunk was good for an abstract look of colors and tones.

My main camera these days is the Lumix G9. The stabilization system gives an extra six and one-half to seven stops of hand-holdability. This means that hand holding a lens of 800mm equivalent at 1/60th of a second is very possible with sharp results. My favorite lens is a zoom lens – Leica 100-400mm f4.0-6.3


Yours in Creative Photography,    Bob

good photos from the zoo

good photos from the zoo

Creating Good Animal Photos from a Captive Environment

I practice my wildlife photography by spending time at the zoo. There are a few reasons for this, and I’ll share them here to hopefully help you in your image creation and get feedback from you on my thoughts. You can always reach me through my email [email protected]

baboon portrait at phoenix zooA baboon named One at the Phoenix Zoo. I spent a bit over an hour waiting to get this portrait with eye contact in decent light. Black and white allow for concentration on his expression.

One benefit of photographing in a structured environment is that you can find animals. I know that it sounds simple at its most basic but you need the practice to become a good wildlife photographer. Exercise may be had at the zoo. Part of the training is to learn to focus quickly and in the right place. You may think this can be easy, but until you have tried it, I think you’ll be surprised how difficult it can be to acquire arresting and exciting photos.

mandrill at phoenix zoo photoThis Mandrill was sleeping for quite a while, but I hung around until he started foraging around in his enclosure. Expression and eye contact are paramount in making this a success. (the color of his features don’t hurt either!)

Just because the animals are captive does not mean that they will pose for you. Things such as eye contact and behavior can make or break an image. One of the items on which you are practicing is to see how an animal moves. How to stop that movement (or accentuate it for something more artistic).

orangutan at the phoeni zoo imageThis Orangutan was walking away, and I mentally willed her to look at me over her shoulder. I will often ask mentally for my wildlife to change position and it’s pretty cool how often it works.

If I can suggest one thing that you will learn that you can take with you into nature is patience. Even though you are in a target rich area, you still need to spend time, and lots of it, to get images with eye contact. If you run from enclosure to enclosure thinking you will get more varied photos you will be correct. But I suggest that the pictures will be less than stellar than if you spend more time with fewer animals.

More from the Phoenix Zoo in the next couple of days. Including the gear I use for making my images.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

bosque del apache part 3

bosque del apache part 3

Festival of the Cranes
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge – Part Three

I enjoy spending time with wildlife.

Watching. Waiting. Learning.

To get the best wildlife images it is important to study the behavior patterns of your prey. Especially in avian photography. Learning when a bird is about to make a move leads to obtaining more than a portrait. Portraits are cool, but my favorite images are highlighting behavior. A mating dance. A flight. A landing. Feeding or grooming all lend more to the captured image in my opinion.

These images are from the Festival of the Cranes in Socorro, New Mexico just a bit south of Albuquerque. I shared pictures from the event, but the previous ones were of Snow Geese. These are the stars of the show, Sandhill Cranes.

Let me know what you think!

sandhill cranes landing bosqueIn for a landing during first light at the first pond – Bosque del Apache NWR

crane in flightSandhill Crane in flight (with a couple of snow geese interlopers in the background)

sandhill cranesIn the warm glow of sunrise here’s the classic capture of three Sandhills with the three wing positions

More Sandhills in the next day or so. For more from the Bosque NWR see these posts with the Snow Geese.

Bosque Part One

Bosque Part Two

The previous posts have the information on the camera gear and links to find it.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob


bosque del apache part 2

bosque del apache part 2

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Snow Geese Part Two

With twenty-thousand plus snow geese winging their way around the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge it was a fantastic couple of days of sights and sounds. Sometimes it was quite overwhelming. On several occasions I had to put the cameras down to just experience nature in its pure form.

I’ve found there is a layer of distance that appears much larger than the six to eight physical inches when I put my face behind a camera — a certain detachment. This distance enables other photographers and me to do things like cover disasters, wars or record infant demises through organizations such as **Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This is an important feature, but it can occasionally interfere with the enjoyment of the moment that is unfolding in front of us.

More Snow Geese photos to share…

sandhill crane over snow geese photoA solitary Sandhill Crane glides in over a pond of snow geese

snow geese in flightSnow geese in flight

snow geese take flight imageTake off!

Kinda reminds me of that famous movie from Alfred Hitchcock!

To make successful wildlife photographs, I would suggest that you spend a fair amount of time studying their behavior long before you pick up your camera to try and capture images. I’m a big fan of bird behavior vs. a straight portrait, although portraits have their place. Being able to predict when a bird will fly, open its wings or display for another will make your photographs come to life. Having a lens with a long reach works to help you fill the frame without disturbing the natural behavior. See my gear below which gives me an 800mm equivalent which is handholdable for capture.

Images were made with Panasonic cameras. Most often the LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmar Professional Lens, 100-400MM, F4.0-6.3 ASPH mounted on the Lumix G9 and the Lumix GH5 for a second body. I had the chance to try out the Leica DG Vario-Elamarit 50-200mm 2.8-40 lens I am working toward getting this lens.

Next up the Sandhill Cranes!!

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

** If you want to give back to your community think about photographing for NILMDTS. It is a very rewarding, if difficult mission.