Atmospheric Distortion?

Joined
Jul 13, 2005
Messages
21,488
Location
Newcastle, Washington
Went shooting Bluebirds yesterday found them right at 8am and shot for 4 hours before giving up. The location where I found the birds is close to 2600 feet elevation, temperature was 30 degrees, no wind and the sun was at my back. I was shooting out of my truck window on a bean bag and I shot with three different camera lens setups.

After taking a few shots I took a quick look at them and they all were way OOF, so I switch cameras same result with all three setups. I thought well maybe it’s the warm air escaping from the truck surrounding the camera lens sticking out the window, so I got out of the truck and walked away and took a few shots, same results.

I’m baffled the only thing I can come up with is maybe heat distortion of some sorts. The light didn’t appear to be harsh and the birds weren’t over 40 feet away. A few of my shots did appear to not be quite as bad when I moved away from the truck and shot. And four shots taken at 9:28am appeared to be halfway OK, but that seemed strange to me.

Appreciate some thoughts, I’m at a lost.
 

kilofoxtrott

European Ambassador
Moderator
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
9,343
Location
Tettnang, Germany
Real Name
Klaus
Louie, what's the color of your truck?
Some colors like black and red are heating much more up than white or silver.
It's absolutely possible, it's heat distorsion.

Kind regards
Klaus
 

Butlerkid

Cafe Ambassador
Administrator
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
23,554
Location
Rutledge, Tennessee
Real Name
Karen
Can you post a couple of examples? Did there seem to be quite a difference between temperature of the ground and the air?
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2017
Messages
2,468
Location
Dubois, Wyoming
Real Name
Bill
Was there snow on the ground Louie? I find this time of the year to be tough for shooting with a big lens. The sun is getting strong enough and the ground is still cold. As far as the truck goes I can't shoot out of mine this time of the year unless I sit with all the windows open for a long time.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2005
Messages
21,488
Location
Newcastle, Washington
Was there snow on the ground Louie? I find this time of the year to be tough for shooting with a big lens. The sun is getting strong enough and the ground is still cold. As far as the truck goes I can't shoot out of mine this time of the year unless I sit with all the windows open for a long time.
Thanks Bill what snow that was around was melting so the ground was a bit muddy.
I have had the exact the experience with having to have all the windows open in my truck before shooting.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
920
Location
MN, USA
I used three completely different setups, one was a D500 with the Nikon 500mm lens, another was my D5 with a Nikon 600mm lens and then the Sony A9ii with a 200-600mm lens.
Heh. Then it's not the lens or the camera. o_O Gotta be atmospheric - just bad luck on the shooting conditions or else the Bluebirds have developed a forcefield privacy screen that they haven't told us about.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
6,535
Location
Alaska
Real Name
Dan
Typically warm lens into cold air isn't an issue. But after the lens cools down I've had problems with moisture from my breath fogging the lens. Even happens on long lenses once in a while. It doesn't take much fog/frost to mess up the AF.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2005
Messages
21,488
Location
Newcastle, Washington
Heh. Then it's not the lens or the camera. o_O Gotta be atmospheric - just bad luck on the shooting conditions or else the Bluebirds have developed a forcefield privacy screen that they haven't told us about.
Thanks, I got a kick out of the Bluebirds developed a forcefield around themselves.
Typically warm lens into cold air isn't an issue. But after the lens cools down I've had problems with moisture from my breath fogging the lens. Even happens on long lenses once in a while. It doesn't take much fog/frost to mess up the AF.
Thanks Dan, I've had issues like what you've explained while shooting in Florida. I think I just happen to be there at the wrong time of day. I'm going to give another go in a week or so, by then things should have warmed up a bit over there and I'll be there at first light.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
4,455
Location
CT USA
When air and ground temps are equal, I've had heat waves start 1 hour after sunrise, even in winter. March sun is getting stronger so it doesn't take much to get the ground to start radiating. If the air is colder than the ground, you'll get heat waves at temps below freezing. A few weeks ago I was shooting by open water (temp at or just above 32) and the air temp was in the upper teens. I could see the heat rising from the river and the sun hadn't even cleared the trees yet. Probably just the conditions at the time.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2005
Messages
21,488
Location
Newcastle, Washington
When air and ground temps are equal, I've had heat waves start 1 hour after sunrise, even in winter. March sun is getting stronger so it doesn't take much to get the ground to start radiating. If the air is colder than the ground, you'll get heat waves at temps below freezing. A few weeks ago I was shooting by open water (temp at or just above 32) and the air temp was in the upper teens. I could see the heat rising from the river and the sun hadn't even cleared the trees yet. Probably just the conditions at the time.
Thanks for responding, this is the exact condition I was experiencing the other day. I'm going back and this time I'll be there a bit before sunrise to see what sort of difference that makes. Appreciate your sharing your experiences.
 

JLH

Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
217
A few weeks back I drove over to Indiana to shoot some of the Sand Hill Cranes. There were thousands of them spread over an area of large corn fields. We arrived around 11:00 AM. We got reasonable close to many of the flocks and I was shooting with a 100-400 lens on a D500. The pictures were great until you start blowing them up. On close inspection you could see the distortion. The further away they were the more the effect. But then, it became clear, the further away they were the more moving air you were shooting through. It was a bright sunny day, zero wind, clear sky and maybe in the high 50's. That bright sun on those corn fields was causing that nearly bare, dark ground to heat up fast, especially with the sun directly overhead, causing a shimmer in the air. It wasn't so noticeable to the naked eye but sure showed up on the long shots. I was persistent and did manage to work my way close in to some nice flocks and got some very good shots. Over all I have to admit the majority of the shots were not as crisp as they could have been had we not been cursed with so much heating of the ground. Being a life long observer of the stars I am well aware of the effects of rising air currents and the distortion they cause to my view through the telescope. My day with the cranes reminded me of just how much this can degrade sharpness when using long lenses. The key to great sharp pictures is not always expensive long focus lenses but rather finding the optimum atmospheric conditions for minimum distortion and to always get close! Sometimes I guess many of us just need a little reminder of this. I know I got mine!
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom