The Power of 10X Optically Zoomed VR Mega-pixels

The latest crop of prosumer EVF (electronic viewfinder) digital cameras feature 8 mega-pixel images, coupled with a 10X optical zoom lens.  Some feature VR (vibration reduction) lenses.  If you have never seen a demonstration of the power of this combination of features, you may be interested in these photos.

If you peer at this first photo closely, you will see a group of purple flowers (irises, I believe) that are growing at a distance of 100 feet from where I stood to take the photo.

Purple irises from 100 feet away

In the next photo, I have remained in the same location, but now I have zoomed in fully on the iris bushes.  In 35mm camera equivalency, I have zoomed from a 35mm (moderately wide-angle) shot to a 350mm (long telephoto) shot.

Here are the irises shot from the same location, but zoomed to 350mm

The photo above demonstrates the power that a 10X-optical zoom lens brings to the photographer.  Now, if you again look closely at the photo just above, you will see towards the bottom, just slightly off-center to the right, deep purple petals and a very dark iris bud.  Here, let me help you to see it-

Cropped photo, pixel-for-pixel screen representation

What you are looking at here is simply a cropped portion of the second photo, but there has been no enlarging or interpolation involved whatsoever.  It is merely a pixel-for-pixel depiction of what the camera captured on it’s sensor, and is a good indication of the power that 8 mega-pixel images bring to the photographer.

I will exhort you to think this through as you look at these photos again.  In the last photo you can see the pistols of the iris. You can see the detail of the veins on the petals of the irises.  And the image you are viewing was captured by a point-and-shoot camera from 100 feet away, on an overcast day, at 1/48th second shutter speed, without the aid of a tripod!  Think of all the possibilities with these kinds of cameras!

Another quick example.  Retta found this turtle on our patio last week, and so she grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures of this fellow.

Say hello to this guy, please.

Or should I say, these fellows, because when Retta examined the photo on the computer, she discovered that the turtle had a passenger!

Ooops, I mean say hello to these guys!

These photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 8800, but the point of the post is to plug the capabilities of this breed of camera, and not necessarily this specific make or model.



Hello everybody, I'm Pedro.  Who are you?  Will you please leave a comment for me?

This fine looking fellow is Pedro.  Pedro dropped by this morning for a visit.  Pedro didn’t tell our neighbors next door that he was going out for a walk.  He just found a way out of his pasture, and wandered on over to chat with our horses, Chipper and Tojo.  Pedro’s owners will be mad at him for misbehaving.  Retta would like to keep him.  Hmmm, maybe I can broker some kind of deal…..

A Tractor for Chickens?

Prior to buying the ranch we are at, Retta and I took the opportunity to visit the property several times, doing the due-diligence inspections all property purchasers should undertake (including, I should note, the all important survey).  During these visits, we noticed, behind the former milking barn, an odd looking contraption, half-buried amongst the odds and ends that always seems to accumulate behind old milking barns. As neither of us recognized what this object was, it soon disappeared into the deepest recesses of our memory banks.  On our last visit prior to closing escrow, while watching television at the Comfort Inn we were staying at, we saw an episode of the P. Allen Smith gardening show.  One particular segment of the show featured something called a chicken tractor.  And what the show portrayed on the screen looked very similar to the contraption sitting behind the milking barn.  Now we knew what that thing was – a chicken tractor.  I had previously heard of lawn tractors, garden tractors, farm tractors, and even tractor-trailers, but I had never heard of a chicken tractor! 

When Retta and I found that we had become the proud owners of chickens (see previous post), we faced the problem of deciding where to house them, and we needed to learn the basics of caring for them.  While looking for information at the local farm store, we ran across a book entitled “Chicken Tractor – The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil”.  That caught my attention instantly, as I never want to be accused of having unhealthy soil, and heaven forbid, unhappy chickens!  Consequently, I purchased that book and learned everything one could possibly know about chicken tractors.  Everything.  Including the information I shall now share with you.  First, here is what one chicken tractor looks like:

Chicken tractor from behind the milking barn

From this picture you can see that this tractor has an enclosed shelter area, which includes a nesting box elevated off the ground.  There is also an outside pen.  Both areas of the tractor are exposed to the ground.  Here is how the chicken tractor is operated.  Put the chickens inside.  Close the door.  Feed and water the chickens daily.  Move the tractor daily.  Clean out the nesting box periodically.  And that is all there is to it.

There are several advantages to utilizing a chicken tractor to house your fowl.  Because the chickens have access to your lawn at all times, they will help control insect populations.  The chicken droppings will help fertilize the lawn.  Most important, the chicken tractor should protect your birds from predators.

There are disadvantages to the chicken tractor as well.  The tractor has to be heavy enough to stay put in heavy winds. The weight makes it difficult to move unless it is designed with an efficient wheel mechanism (which the one above does not have).  In the photograph below, you can see another type of chicken tractor.  This is a commercial chicken tractor, manufactured in Missouri, that is designed to be both lightweight and strong.

Aluminum chicken tractor

In this style of chicken tractor, the lighter weight is offset by the improved stability that the low, wide profile provides.  Varmints cannot overturn a tractor of this type, and it’s light weight make it fairly easy to move around your lawn.  In the following photograph, you can see the design of the three nesting boxes that are a part of this tractor.  The boxes have exterior lids, making it easy to collect eggs and add litter.  The slide-out floor at the bottom allows for easy litter removal.

Well designed nesting boxes

Now for the bad news about chicken tractors.  The biggest drawback to the use of a chicken tractor is that, no matter how heavy and sturdy you construct it, varmints can burrow into it easily, simply by digging a hole in the ground anywhere along it’s sides.  We once lost a whole batch of chickens in one night alone, after some unknown critter dug its way underneath the sides of the tractor.

We now utilize permanent coops for our fowl, with concrete footings at the base.  This prevents critters from taking the underground route to our birds.  And what has become of our two chicken tractors?  The wooden tractor has become an infirmary and isolation ward for any bird that might happen to need that type of TLC.  And the aluminum chicken tractor is just the right size to store a pickup-truck size load of trash.  When it fills up with trash bags, I load the truck and take it over to the county transfer station to dispose of it.  But that is another story.