Monday, July 23

Well that was an interesting weekend

We'd planned a mellow weekend-- heading to Parker River for the evening, doing some birding and staying over to get there first thing in the morning. The evening was -- got our first sightings of least terns, as well as a least bittern, which is not at all an easy bird to spot.

On the way back from the hotel, there were a bunch of people pulled over on the side of the road. When I realized what they were looking at, I immediately said to pull over. I was so startled that I didn't even know how to explain it, though it was really quite simple: a roosting site with more egrets together than I'd ever seen in my life. This picture is just a small portion of it:

We stuck around until it was too dark to see anything else and then headed to the hotel.

Usually, I leave most of my camera equipment in the car overnight. I did that this time, but I needed to clean my camera, so I put the smallest lens on it, so it would be easier to carry. Then, really as an afterthought, I decided to carry up my big lens as well-- just in case it needed cleaning. I left my camera bag in the car, which had a lot of equipment in it-- two other lenses, plus a pair of specialized wide-angle lens adapters, which are basically lenses of their own, an external flash, a battery grip, four specialized batteries, the charger which uses these batteries, and a bunch of other small (but not cheap) items.

When we got up to the room, I realized I'd left my iPod in the front seat, and thought I should go back down and grab it, mainly because I needed to charge it overnight for the ride home after the morning's birding. When I went down to grab it, I thought about bringing my camera bag up, mainly because it had some of the cleaning supplies in it, but thought it would slow us down in the morning so I decided against it. Up in the room, I realized I'd left the glucometer in that bag as well, and almost ran back to get it, but I figured I'd be fine overnight without it.

The next morning, we were up bright and early, ready to get out to the refuge while things were still interesting. We got ready, showered, had breakfast, etc. I ran down to the car to get a few items down to make the next trip easier.

I dropped my laptop and bag in the trunk and was about to run back downstairs when I went to drop something in the front.

That's when I spotted the shattered glass: the front passenger window had been smashed open. If I'd had left my primary lens in the car, it probably would have been stolen. As luck would have it, it was safe in the hotel with us. Only one item was stolen: the camera bag, which contained about $1500 worth of equipment. Everything in the bag can be replaced, and some of it is stuff I'd seriously been thinking about getting rid of and selling off on eBay but this obviously pretty much killed the rest of the weekend. My camera takes specialized batteries and I had one in the camera which I'd been using all the previous day and four in the bag, along with the charger. I had taken over 1400 pictures on a single battery charge and I knew there wasn't much left. I had deliberately not recharged the battery because I wanted to find out just how many pictures I could take on a single battery charge. So not only wouldn't it do much good to go back to the island for more bird photography, we had a car with a broken window and had to put a lot of work into cleaning it up so it was safe to drive.

So, in short, our weekend was cut short and, until the new battery charger arrives (no one locally sells them so I had to do mail order), I won't be taking many pictures. I'm getting my car fixed tomorrow morning so I can actually drive around again.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about what lenses were stolen and how I'd like to go about replacing them. It's not as though the lenses that got stolen were top-notch. So I have to think through what sort of photograph I've been doing, what interests me in terms of future photography and what equipment I need. I've still got the two best lenses I've ever owned-- my Sigma 50-500mm and the Pentax pancake lens-- both excellent lenses and for their own purposes, but the Sigma is cumbersome and the pancake lens is useful for some very specialized situations. When I'm on nature walks where I won't be doing any distance photography, I've used a simple 100-400mm lens which works easily and quickly and is very lightweight. It saves me the trouble of having to use the tripod and keeps my back a lot happier than when I use the larger lens. So I could replace that lens with an identical one, and I may do so.

I used to have the simple Pentax 18-55mm zoom lens, which I liked, but didn't love. So do I want to go back to that lens or get something with a wider angle option, or something which might weigh a little more but have better glass density and be better for more professional work, such as the Sigma 17-70mm, which is also a very close-range macro lens as well?

Although this particular incident was not fun, and certainly leaves me a bit frustrated, there's something nice about having these options -- the choice to update my equipment without the complications of trying to organize everything I've had. I know I'm not replacing my 2x teleconverter-- I've never been happy with it and should have returned it when I first purchased it, but missed the window.

I'm trying to find a replacement for the 1.4x teleconverter which I liked quite a bit, but I'm having real trouble with that one-- stores that normally stock them are all out of stock; the one I used to own was a Tamron and it worked particularly well with my camera so I'm loath to change brands, even if I've heard great things about Sigma-- the Tamron was outstanding and I'd much rather find one just like it, even if it takes extra time to track it down.

This wasn't a -bad- weekend per se. I got some nice pictures, including two of birds I'd never seen before, and several of a really amazing sight:

And now I get to take some time to really think about what photographic equipment I have and why I use it and sort it out from there.

So how was YOUR weekend?

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