Like many people I’m always looking for a bargain and when second hand lens came my way at a really good price it was time to add some more “glass” to my camera bag.
Wrest Park is one of my regular photographic haunts so with it’s long formal gardens it was a great place to try out my purchase; a Canon 100-400 L lens. The 100-400 is quite an old lens have been in production since 1998, and features a slightly old fashioned push-pull zoom mechanism. I had the opportunity to borrow one of these a few years ago and at the time I found the push-pull mechanism quite odd, however I do remember at the time being really impressed by the optical quality.
Walking around Wrest Park always provides a variety of photographic opportunities, however with such a long lens I was keen to see just what the reach was like and to experiment with the lens’ ability to compress perspective and generate an extremely shallow depth of field. The main picture above shows both of these qualities really well. The folly at the far end of the reflecting pool is around 1 Km away, however you can zoom in and easily see the individual bricks. Looking back towards the house later in the afternoon shows a field full of statues. Even through there is over 250 metres between the nearest and the furthest the ability of the lens to compressed the perspective shows them as appearing almost on top of each other.
My girlfriend decided to join me for walk on this day and wanted to join in with some photography. So while I set about testing my new lens, she chose to take some portrait photos of me at work and did an excellent job!
Although not my forte, Wrest Park does offer a few opportunities for nature photography and of course a long lens does make the ideal weapon for taking pictures of birds in their natural habitats without disturbing them. I took a few shots of the swans that inhabit the waterways around the estate and some of the first signs of spring. The adolescent mute swan shown here was a challenging subject with the bright sunlight making it difficult not to over-expose the white plumage, however the beads of water glinting in the sun did add some interesting highlights and texture (click on the image below to see this image in more detail).
By the end of the day I’d managed to put my new lens through it’s paces. I’d demonstrated the zoom and focus mechanisms, the image stabilisation and of course used the lens at both it’s largest and smallest apertures, and in addition to a few fun pictures for myself, my girlfriend was able to give me some great portraits of myself.