The AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED, commonly referred to as the 70-200mm VRII to differentiate it from the original configuration of this VR telephoto, is an exceptional lens with excellent image quality and sharpness. In addition, the bokeh produced by this lens is very smooth and “creamy” so that it is often used to produce clean close-ups with a smooth out-of-focus background image. I decided to try it again, this time using it in combination with the 1.7x teleconverter.
One of my first subjects was this dragonfly, the Common Whitetail Skimmer, shot at Bass Lake on Sunday afternoon. At least a half-dozen of these Skimmers were flitting around the shallow water in the holding ponds at the end of the lake below the Manor House, and I watched their behavior until I found one perching on a twig. I noticed that this twig was a favorite perch, so I pre-focussed on the twig and waited for a Skimmer to pose there. Before long I was rewarded with this shot.
This “close-up” was obtained using the lens combination described above, the 70-200mm VRII with the 1.7x teleconverter. This combination extends the focal length to 340mm for this lens, and using it on the D300 with its 1.5x crop factor gives an effective focal length of 510mm at full extension. The aperture of this combination becomes f/4.8 rather than the initial f/2.8 as the lens aperture is reduced by 1.5 stops.
After a bit I decided to photograph a water lily with this lens combo. As I walked around the lake I noticed that indeed there were many lily pads but few actual blooms at this time. When I found a likely candidate I set up the tripod and took this shot from about fifteen feet. There was no breeze, so the surface of the lake was like a mirror and the reflection of the water lily was pleasingly sharp.
Rather than try to photograph another water lily from such a distance, which really would not give me a close-up of the quality I wanted, I moved on to Price Lake to look for rhododendron blooms. I was rewarded with many more options on the Price Lake Trail since the rhododendrons were in full bloom. Whereas some of the rhododendrons were past their prime, this young bud cluster was one of many which I photographed near the boathouse on the Price Lake Trail. The deep pink color fades as the blooms mature so that the flower cluster is almost white as the bloom cycle draws to its conclusion.
Finally, I decided to look for Turks-Cap Lilies in a roadside area near the Moses Cone Park Manor House where I found them blooming last summer. I was in luck, but only barely so, as I found the first few blooms of this mountain beauty just opened up. More will come later, but just now these few are mixed in with the Beebalm to make a striking display alongside the Parkway. I used the lens combo described above to photograph this pair of blooms which were just out of reach across the drainage ditch at the roadside, perhaps 8-10 feet from the lens as it sat on the tripod.