No Saturday visit this week, but two mid week visits as compensation. The memsahib and I had a very busy period over new year, shuttling visiting friends around London, and a bit of mass catering by yours truly. Add a soupçon of cold; lack of sleep; manky, cloudy overcast and freezing cold morning, meant I elected to stay in bed this morning in an attempt to recover.
I must admit that the main reason for my site visits, this week, was to get to grips with my new lens. A Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary canon fit. I've been watching this lens drop in price over a couple of years, and finally took the plunge to buy one just after Christmas. Sigma were offering £100 off. I could get a brand new lens at a price my bank balance could just manage, but was now cheaper or the same price as a used lens!!!
A truly mighty beast it is when compared to my Tamron 16-300mm jobbie. The lens has a diameter of 95mm; some 30mm greater than the Tamron. This lets in a much greater amount of light. I believe the glass itself is of a higher quality, which translates to better imagery. Of course, the main reason for getting this lens is the doubling of telephoto I have available: 600mm vs 300mm.
There are a couple of downsides. Wide angle is now a minimum of 150mm. That is not enough for landscape shots of Manor farm. The Tamron's 16mm wide angle offered fantastic landscape shots.
I will now have to carry two cameras with me - which was a strategy I had decided on some time ago when I considered the Sigma. Thus, I shall use my ancient Canon SX700 HS bridge camera for landscape shots, as it is small and light.
The Sigma is also over 1kg heavier than the Tamron. It is quite noticeable. I believe the all up weight of camera and lens is now well over 3kg. Good thing I eschewed the Sigma Sport model. This waterproofed beastie with a 105mm lens is roughly 1kg heavier than the Sigma Contemporary.
Unlike the Tamron, it takes me two turns of the lens ring to get to full zoom. I've worked out a strategy of either extending the lens to, say, 400mm whilst framing my subject then zooming in to 600mm with one twist or to twist the camera with my right hand whilst twisting the lens ring with my left.
A final problem, which I will get used to: Tamron lenses following Nikon's direction turning the lens ring whilst Sigma follow Canon's opposite direction for turning lens rings. Great. I've spent a year being used to turning the Tamron.
Enough harping! The Sigma lens is SPECTACULAR even at 600mm! It's clarity is astonishing, with huge amounts of light being let it. Shots taken at 600mm are not soft; whereas with my Tamron shots taken at or near 300mm were very soft. Auto focus works well, plus it locks onto a target (subject) far better than the Tamron.
Anyway, enough of lenses, which I am sure is boring the living daylights out of people. What were Inert up to this week?
My Wednesday visit revealed very little. They were not operating on Manor farm. There was activity on Chandlers farm, but it looked light and subdued. I had got down quite late in the morning, roughly 11:00am so would have avoided any tea break. I guess there were still people off on holiday. I could have wandered around Manor farm on Wednesday. The gates were firmly shut to works traffic over the Bailey bridge, which meant Inert were staying firmly on Chandlers farm. However, I had to get home before 12:00, it was a cloudy day and there was little wildlife around.
Friday saw Inert back on Manor farm. Our hard working bulldozer driver was chunkering away on the former south and south west shores of Finch pond! Yep, Inert are flitting about again. I can sort of understand this. Water levels in Cormorant lake were very high due, in part, to the pump being off. Thus it will be quite dangerous for heavy plant to be operating next to deep (up to 10m) water.
There were a couple of tipper lorries delivering spoil to the bulldozer, but the whole effort looked a little subdued. I guess this will change next week when all and sundry are back at work.
With little obvious change, you can understand my reluctance to visit Manor farm on a cold, manky Saturday morning.
I've split the slide show into two: one for Wednesday and one for Friday. Most all of wildlife, they really represent me getting to grips with my new lens.
Kicking off with an overcast Wednesday. All shots are handheld i.e. I did not use a tripod or deploy my monopod.
Moving on to a freezing cold but sunny Friday. All shots are handheld i.e. I did not use a tripod or deploy my monopod.
Finally, a little extra. Cast your mind back a year, when I attempted to make a Black Forest Gateau. Whilst delicious, it did resemble a collapsed caldera or Quatermass experiment. I christened it Cratermass.
I discovered why the sponge collapsed: too much baking powder. This year I showed restrain, and the results (yes, I cooked two of them) did not collapse. My first, pictured below followed a recipe without butter. This resulted in an extremely light, airy sponge which was very delicate and tore when I spread jam or whipped cream over it.
The second followed a different recipe with butter. This resulted in a more robust sponge, which withstood a lot of abuse from me. However, I prefer the first sponge as is it is more like what a Black Forest Gateau should be.
Both were polished off.
Note, the funny shape of the cake was due to me not having two 8" round baking dishes. Instead, I baked the cakes in a large casserole dish. It worked perfectly. Always the one for lateral thinking, and pushing the boundary.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.