Monday, August 30, 2010

Picture of the Week (POTW) #11

Picture of the week for the period 15 - 21 August 2010. Yours truly hand launching the ultra micro Champ RC airplane last Sunday morning. Donna and I took advantage of there not being any wind and headed out to a large grassy area (which you can see needs to be cut!) to fly the Champ some. This was also taken pre-propeller incident :). Donna took this using her Rebel T2i and 18-200 lens. Exposure was 1/750th at f/5.6, camera zoomed to 72mm, ISO 200.

Hand Launch
Click Image to View Larger

Friday, August 27, 2010

21 Years Ago...

I was blessed with the birth of my 2nd son, Andrew. Today he's serving our great nation as a Marine stationed at MCAS Miramar. Below is his photo taken during boot camp. I couldn't be a prouder of him.

Andrew J. Jones, United States Marine
Click Image to View Larger

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Propeller 1 - Finger 0

Monday night I added a new airplane to the hanger. Pictured below are my two RC airplanes. The small yellow one is an ultra micro HobbyZone Champ. The larger white one is an Airport Cessna 182 Sky Trainer which is the newest acquisition.

Champ and Cessna
Click Image to View Larger
While checking out the controls on the Cessna the motor spun up an the plane started running off the table towards me. My reaction was to try and stop the plane with my right hand. I honestly think I just reacted without thinking too much about it. Big mistake! The spinning propeller struck my middle finger and nearly chopped it off at the first joint. Donna and I spent about 3 hours in the ER getting X-rays and stitches. Here's a couple of shots of my hand after returning from the ER.

Click Image to View Larger
Click Image to View Larger
I've had a follow-up visit with an Orthopedic specialist and I guess I was very lucky that I didn't lose the tip of my finger. I have a new brace that I will have to wear for the next 8 weeks while my finger heals. So what have I learned from all of this - plenty:

1 - Always remove the propeller when you hook up the battery when indoors.
2 - It's better to do these checks outside.
3 - I don't have the ninja-like relexes I used to have.
4 - I have an incredible wife. Donna has bent over backwards to help me out with things I need to do even though she's in the first week of her new dental assistant program.
5 - Not being able to type with my middle finger sucks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Picture of the Week (POTW) #10

Picture of the week for the period 15 - 21 August 2010. I shot this female Banana Spider (Argiope aurantia) this past weekend while Donna and I were walking around in the Cypress Gardens Swamp. While I don't especially care for spiders what I really liked about this picture was the spider web. It's pretty amazing how spiders can create these webs. I shot this using my Canon 7D and 70-200 f/4 lens. Eposure was 1/250th at f/5.6, ISO 500. Lately I've been using Auto ISO more. Even though the camera seems to pick a higher ISO then I would have though the images are turning out well so I'm going to stick with it for a while.

Female Banana Spider
Click Image to View Larger

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm Going Flying...

It's funny, to me anyway, how some things fall into place. A few months ago I saw a video of a guy using an Radio Controlled (RC) helicopter to shoot video with a Canon 7D. I was blown away by it but know flying a helicopter is no easy task and no way was I going to put my 7D on one.

Having had experience flying airplanes in the past (control line airplanes as a kid, Microsoft Flight Simulator as an adult and a little seat time in real airplanes such as a Piper J-3 Cub and Cessna 172) I figured I could learn to fly an RC airplane without too much difficulty. As usual when I want to learn something new I started searching Google, YouTube, and looking for forums that dealt with the topic. After doing my initial research Donna and I went to a a Local Hobby Store (LHS) and talked with a salesman there. If he wasn't into RC's you could have fooled me because he seemed to know everything about every plane in the store. In the end we didn't leave with a plane -- I really hadn't planned to buy one anyway. What I wanted was a simulator for RC airplanes and helicopters so that's what we bought.

Phoenix Flight Simular - Image Courtesy of
Click Image to View Larger
I have spent hours flying a variety of airplanes and helicopters in the simulator. I found one electric airplane that I really liked flying but after discussing that specific airplane with other RC pilots all of them recommended I start with something else. It's not that I couldn't learn using the more advanced plane but let's face it, every new pilot crashes so you're better off crashing a smaller, lighter, cheaper plane than one of the larger more advanced ones. This made perfect sense to me so I started investigating trainers. Hands down the number one recommended trainer is the Hobby Zone Super Cub LP. It's a very forgiving airplane and is slow flying, spare parts are readily available and when you're ready to move up there's numerous enhancements you can make to it. I had pretty much settled on buying that but then I found out about ultra micro RC planes.

An ultra micro is a very small version of the larger airplanes. They're designed to be flow indoors, such as in a gym or you can fly them outside in calm weather. So of course I had to find out everythng there is to know about ultra micros and as luck would have it a guy posted an ad for a new in box Hobby Zone Champ so I bought it and it should be delivered sometime next week.

The Champ could be considered the little brother to the Super Cub which is one of the reasons why I decided to buy it. Another is that it is extremely light (under 2 ounces ready to fly) and like the Super Cub spares are readily available. It's also small -- its wingspan is 24 inches where the Super Cub wingspan is 48 inches. Since I've settled on the Champ I've been flying a similar model in the simulator so switching over to the real thing hopefully won't be too difficult.

Hobby Zone Champ Image Courtesty of Hobby Zone
Click Image to View Larger
So what does all of this have to do with photography? Glad you asked :). Along with the Champ I've ordered a tiny key-chain video camera. I'll attach the camera to the plane and then go fly around the house or whereever and shoot video.

Once I get the hang of flying the Champ I already have my next plane in mind. I won't be jumping up to DSLR hauling planes yet but next up after the Champ will be one that is capable of hauling around a Point and Shoot. I'd like to be able to move up to a plane that can haul around a DSLR but there's one major obstacle (other than I'm not ready to strap an expensive DSLR on one yet) the wing-span for a DSLR carrying airplane is HUGE. How huge I hear you asking -- try 80 inches. That's right almost a 7 foot wingspan. That's about the width of your average couch. I know 'cause I measured our couch last night and it's just a little wider than 80 inches. Right now I don't have a car that will haul that big of a wing around either. The only possibility would be to put the seat down in the Accord and run it through the trunk and into the car.

Stay tuned -- this should be a pretty interesting adventure :). The links below are for the products I've bought. If you use them to order the product from Amazon I'll earn a small commission.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Note to Self: Always Have Camera With You!

See that nice big black Black Vulture in the photo below. Yeah neither can I :). That's why I added the little caption so you could see it better. Last night while Donna and I were walking around the neighborhood we happened upon several Black and Turkey Vultures in a section of the neighborhood where they haven't started any construction yet. If I had a camera, even a pocket point and shoot I would have been able to get a better picture. I was pretty amazed at how close we were able to get before this one started giving us the evil eye. Donna took the picture below using her cellphone. So learn from my mistake -- always have a camera with you!

Black Vulture
Click Image to View Larger

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scott Kelby Likes My Idea!

Recently Scott Kelby recently blogged about things he'd like to see in Lightroom 4. He asked for feedback on the things we'd like so see and I added my .02 worth. Turns out he liked one of my ideas enough that it gets mentioned in a follow-up post he made. How cool is that -- to know that one of your photography heroes actually read and liked something you had to say. I rock! :)

Blog Post
Click Image to View Larger

Monday, August 16, 2010

Picture of the Week (POTW) #9

Picture of the week for the period 8 - 14 August 2010. It's not everyday that you see three birds all feeding from the same feeder at the same time -- at least around here this isn't something that I see happening very often. Not too long ago I moved the sunflower seed feeder so that it extends above the fence. This has proven to be a smart move. Now that the birds have discovered it it's not uncommon to see doves lined up along the fence waiting their turn to get some of the seeds and this pair of House Finches are regular visitors to our back yard. It's pretty cool to watch the birds feeding from it. I took the picture below using Donna's Rebel T2i and EF-400 lens. The camera/lens were mounted on the Induro CT314 tripod and I was using the ballhead and GHBA Gimbal Head. Exposure was 1/30th (which I find somewhat surprising given the bright side lighting) at f/5.6, ISO 100. At the top left is a male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), on the bottom is a female House Finch and standing on the fence post is a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura).

Three on a Tree
Click Image to View Larger

Thursday, August 12, 2010

iPod Camera Connection Kit

After weeks for waiting for Apple to have it in stock (I wasn't about to pay double or triple the cost as some vendors are charging for this stupid thing) the iPod Camera Connection Kit is here!

iPod Camera Connection Kit
Click Image to View Larger
My first impression is that Apple is making a HUGE profit from these kits. I'd be willing to bet their cost is probably less than a buck and they get away with charging 30 bucks for it. Oh well a fool and his money are soon parted as my dad used to say. Downloading images from the Rebel T2i is very straight forward. Insert the card into the reader and then the reader into the iPad and then you're given the option to pick and choose which images to import or you can import them all at once. Importing isn't the fastest I've ever seen but considering it's transferring 20+ MB files over USB 2.0 connection it works good enough.

Unfortunately transferring images from the 7D isn't quite as easy. My current card reader is the Dynex model DX-CR121 shown in the picture above. When I connect it to the iPad I get an error message about the device using too much power which means it's not compatible with the iPad :(. I can download by connecting the 7D directly to the iPad but that's a pain. I'd like to be able to use my camera while images are being downloaded.

I've read that some Lexar card readers work and found one on eBay that I bought and will try out as soon as it gets here. If you have a card reader that works with the iPad Camera Connection Kit please leave me a comment with the manufacturer and model number so I and others will know what does work.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick Tip: Handy Tripod Adjustment Technique

Here's a quick tip for you regarding tripod adjustment. When I bought the Induro CT314 tripod I knew it would extend to a height taller than eye level for me. I've been trying to figure out a way to quickly adjust the tripod to my working height when setting it up. I realize each time you use it you may have to do some tweaking here and there but I was trying to figure out a quick way to get to a basic starting point. I had considered adjusting it and then paintiing a stripe around the tripod legs but decided against that because it just seems wrong to cover up those beautiful carbon fiber legs :). After trying all kinds of different ideas: width of camera body, length of lens, length of a dollar bill, etc I finally came up with something that works and I'll never forget to bring 'em.

Handy Tripod Adjustment
Click Image to View Larger
That's right my hands are what I use to get the base tripod settings. What I do is fully extend the bottom and middle legs and then extend the top leg the width of my two hands. This gives me nice starting point for setting up the tripod. From here I can easly adjust each leg up or down as needed.

Ground Pod Working Height

As I have experimented with DIY Ground Pod ideas one thing that has come to mind is what is the working height of the ground pod. Afterall what good is having a Ground Pod if you have to contort yourself into a pretzel to use it?! With this in mind I setup my gear on the PVC Ground Pod, Frying Pan Ground Pod and Induro Tripod with legs fully splayed.
Working Height PVC Ground Pod
Click Image to View Larger
Working height for the PVC Ground Pod is approximately 10 inches with Gimbal Head installed.

Working Height of Frying Pan Ground Pod
Click Image to View Larger
Working height of the Frying Pan Ground Pod is approximatley 11 inches with Gimbal Head installed. I've done some shooting with this setup and it works pretty. What's cool, silly as it sounds, is the sound that resonates through the frying pan when you click the shutter.

Working Height of Induro Tripod
Click Image to View Larger
Working height is a little less than 16 inches when using the Induro CT314 tripod with Gimbal Head installed. I'm beginning to think I may not need a Ground Pod afterall. My Induro Tripod gets me within a few inches of the other two solutions and I'll always have my Induro Tripod with me. I guess I'll know for sure after I've had a chance to try all of the different soltuions out in the coming days.

For those of you that have a Ground Pod, either store bought or DIY what's your approximate working height? I realize there's numerous factors such as ballhead height, Gimbal Head height, etc but I'd be curious to know how low your ground pod gets you.

More Ground Pod Modifications

I did some additional modifications to the PVC Ground Pod idea to see if I could make things a bit more stable and I found a simple solution that works.

Stable PVC Ground Pod
Click Image to View Larger
By drilling and screwing three screws into the PVC pipe as shown above the issue with the ballhead/gimbal head rotating was resolved.

Modified PVC Ground Pod
Click Image to View Larger
I shot a few shots in the back yard with this setup and it seems work work well. I'll have to try it out in the field sometime this week and see how it performs. I think this solution may work -- it's light, will breakdown and fit in my backpack for sure but I don't know if it's quite stable enough to hold the ballhead/gimbal head & camera/lens. Notice how much wider the ballhead is than the PVC pipe. One benefit of living in a neighborhood where there's new construction going on is with a little scrounging about you can find stuff for DIY projects. As luck would have it I scored a short section of thicker PVC pipe last night so now I have yet another idea for a DIY Ground Pod. I'll be working on that idea tonight so stay tuned -- there's more to come.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Picture of the Week (POTW) #8

Picture of the week for the period 1 - 7 August 2010. This is the large knob as it is known at Pilot Mountain State Park in King, North Carolina. If you view the larger version you can make out a few birds soaring around it. Most of what we saw were either Turkey or Black Vultures though there's supposed to be several Hawks in the area as well. Donna took this with her Rebel T2i, 18-200mm lens, zoomed to 33mm, 1/250th at f/5.6, ISO 100. Not that I'm keeping count or anything but I think this makes 3 weeks in a row that we selected on of her pictures.
Pilot Mountain State Park, King, NC
Click Image to View Larger

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ground Pod Modifications

In my DIY Ground Pod Post I posted some ideas I had for a DIY Ground Pod. I've had a chance to do some more experimenting and here's the results from the first round of experiments....

Inverted Frying Pan
Click Image to View Larger
This new configuration works much better but I'll tell you it was a pain to saw that damn handle off of the pan!

Nut and Bolt on Bottom Side of Pan
Click Image to View Larger
By inverting the pan there's no longer a problem with the nut and bolt extending from the base and getting snagged on something.

No More Handle and Lid for Base
Click Image to View Larger
I had considered gluing the pan to the bucket lid since I can't use it now but I think I'm going to hold off on doing that for now. If I do glue it then I'll still need to leave some sort of opening so that I can get to the bolt to be able to loosen the ballhead from it. If you'll look closely you'll see that after getting 3/4 of the way through the handle I got tired of sawing and just bent it back and forth until it broke :).

In Use With Liveview
Click Image to View Larger
This setup works pretty well. Of course I think most setups would when you're shooting from a nice smooth concrete pad :). I will try and do some field testing this week or this coming weekend.

Know Your Knobs!
Click Image to View Larger
I did learn something today and that's to make sure you know your knobs. See how the two knobs are close together in the picture above? Well twice I loosened the knob for the lens plate when I meant to loosen the knob for the lens so I could rotate it. Next time I'll position the knob for the lens plate towards the bottom so there's only one knob on top. Don't make this mistake!

How to Screw Up a Photo Op

This past weekend Donna and I traveled to Winston-Salem, NC to celebrate my 30 year high school reunion. On Saturday we drove up to Pilot Mountain in King, NC and spent part of the day hiking around the knob. The picture below is of Pilot Mountain and was taken from the scenic overlook beside the highway heading to it.

Pilot Mountain
Click Image to View Larger
After driving to the top of little knob as it is known (the little bump on the left side of the photo above) Donna and I walked around the trails there and we found a cool spot to take a photo of the two of us. I had her sit on the rocks while I adjusted the tripod/camera and took a test shot. We used her camera because it had the 18-200 lens mounted and I had the 55-250 on my 7D. I figured we'd want a nice wide angle shot to get as much of the surrounding area in the photo. I took a test shot and it looked good enough in camera so I climbed up on the rocks and using the wireless remote shutter release took some pictures of us. It wasn't until we got back to the hotel and I downloaded the photos that I discovered the problem you see below.

Lenshood Vignetting
Click Image to View Larger
See the solid black in the corners and side of the photo? You can especially see it on the left hand side. That's called vignetting and while it happens from time to time when shooting at a wide angle this was caused by the lenshood I was using on the lens. Instead of spending $30+ for a lens-specific hood I thought I'd save a few bucks and buy an off brand lenshood that mounted by threading onto the lens like a filter would. I'm not sure if I would have had vignetting from the lens specific hood or not but I'll find out after I get one.

What did I learn from this little experience? ALWAYS test your new gear before going out and using it when you may be planning to take that special photograph. I went through the photos we had taken that day and there's probably 7 - 10 of them that have this problem. Sure I can get rid of it by cropping but if I had taken the time to fully test the lenshood before using it out in the field I would have known that it vignettes and would have used a different focal length to avoid this problem to begin with.

Friday, August 6, 2010

DIY Ground Pod Ideas

Recently I watched some Moose Peterson training on the Kelby Training web site. The training was on shooting birds in Florida and during it he used a ground pod. His was a nice looking medal one which he promptly sat in an inverted frisbee so he could slide it on the sand easier. When I saw him using it I knew I wanted one so after checking around online and discovering companies want $150.00 for one I figured there's got to be some sort of DIY solution. There's a great example of one on YouTube just search for DIY Ground Pod to check it out.

While walking through Lowes the other night I saw these bucket lids at the end of one of the rows in the paint department. Immediately I thought about the ground pod so I bought two of them and enough 3/8 inch nuts and bolts to try and create my DIY ground pod. I ended up coming up with 4 ideas for creating a ground pod and this post summaries each of those proposed solutions.
Possible Ground Pod Solutions
Click Image to View Larger
Solution #1 - The bucket lid
Ballhead Mounted to Bucket Lid
Click Image to View Larger
At first I thought the bucket lid was going to be the perfect solution. It was light, made of plastic so I couldn't have to worry about water, and it looked like there was enough room to put the bolt through it and not have it drag on the ground. 
Bad Idea
Click Image to View Larger
In order to not have the bolt drag on the ground I would either need to cut it or provide some kind of spacer to fill this gap (NOTE TO SELF -- use a wooden block to fill the gap -- sorry I had to write that idea down before I forgot it).
Better Idea
Click Image to View Larger
Using this configuration for the nut and bolt allows the ballhead to be mounted closer to the lid but it's still too flexible to use so at this point the bucket lid is a no-go. I'll update this post after I have a chance to try a wooden spacer.

Solution #2 - The Frying Pan

Yes that is a non-stick frying pan. We recently bought a couple of new ones so I was able to use this one for my little project.
Nut and Bolt Attached to Pan
Click Image to View Larger
If you think about it the pan will be sitting on the ground so having the nut and bolt extending from the bottom shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Camera Mounted
Click Image to View Larger
While this setup seems to work who honestly wants to lug around a frying pan all day. I suppose if I cut off the handle it would be a little easier to manage but it's held on with four big rivets and I'm not sure I want to try and grind them off. I think I'll save this for when I have to go shoot some place where I could use a frying pan for protection :)

Solution #3 - The block of Wood

I wanted to try this setup after watching the video on YouTube so I grabbed a piece of scrap wood and drilled holes in it as you can see below.
Counter Sunk Bolt on Bottom of Wood
Click Image to View Larger

Top of Wood
Click Image to View Larger
The mounting method shown below has some promise to it but there's one big flaw. The wood isn't wide enough to provide proper support. When mounted like this everything tends to fall to the left.
Camera Mounted
Click Image to View Larger
Shown below is the mounting method that worked best so far. I think If I added some sort of extension to the piece of wood I may have a workable DIY Ground Pod.
Alternate Camera Mount
Click Image to View Larger
Solution #4 - PVC Pipe

On the way home today I got the idea of using some PVC pipe I had left over from a project so I clobbered together a "T" using connectors, caps, and pipe I had available. Below shows the mounting bolt ready for the ballhead.
PVC Pipe Mount
Click Image to View Larger
Here's the camera mounted on the PVC T and this seems to work pretty well. I think I may be onto something with this one.
Camera Mounted
Click Image to View Larger
Granted I didn't glue the pipes together and you probably wouldn't want to either to keep things portable but there's one problem with this solution as it is now. The weight of everything mounted on the PVC pipe makes it want to rotate at this T fitting. I'm certain this problem could be solved by either gluing the short PVC pipe into the base of the T fitting or drilling a hole and putting a set screw in it to stop the rotation or drilling a hole all the way through the base of the T fitting and using some sort of pin to prevent the ballhead from rotating from side to side.
Rotation Point
Click Image to View Larger
So out of the four possible solutions there's two of them that may work. I'll post and update after I've had a chance to tweak things about. If you've already been there and done that or have any ideas I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time Machine: Next Stop 1984

This weekend I'll be attending my 30 year high school reunion. It still seems like yesterday to me. One thing I did this week was to go through some old photos from years gone by and I found a few that I took while I was in the Air Force stationed in Iceland. I was part of the 667 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron and we were known as "The Bear Eaters" because our mission was to track the movement of Soviet "Bear" aircraft. It was while I was in Iceland that I bought my first SLR. The Canon AE-1 program. I elected to buy this model because it was more advanced than the AE-1 because it had a program mode. You basically set it and left the camera figure things out. So if you've ever wondered how long that green full auto mode has been on the dial well it dates back to at least 1984. Below are four photos from my year in Iceland. These date back to 1984 and were scanned with a cheap all in one printer scanner so the quality pretty much sucks.

Out on the Rocks
Click Image to View Larger
That's me with my trusty AE-1 and 70-300 zoom lens.

Self Portrait - Hair Parted in Center
Click Image to View Larger

Self Portrait - Hair Parted on Side
Click Image to View Larger
I couldn't decide which way to part my hair so I took pictures of two different ways. I'm pretty sure the lens was a 50mm 1.8.

Click Image to View Larger
I guess I've been shooting birds a lot longer than I originally thought :). I remember this shot. My buddy Lonnie Davis and I were out shooting and we stumbled upon a nest for this Tern (I think it's a Tern). Well our presence wasn't appreciated by the bird I looked up and snapped this as the bird was diving down at me to. I have no idea what the camera settings were nor the lens used but to this day this remains one of my favorite photos.

So there you have it a trip back to 1984. Hope you enjoyed the journey :). Donna and I will be married for 20 years in 2012 and we're actually talking about going to Iceland for a week long photo shoot. I'd love to go back as it's a beautiful country.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: 100 Ways to take better Nature & Wildlife Photographs

I recently finsihed working my way through Guy Edwardes' 100 Ways to take better Nature & Wildlife Photographs and I learned a lot from it. Such as I need to buy more gear :).  The editors of this book were very smart to put the photo on the cover that they did. This is exactly the type of photo I want to take so as soon as I saw the cover I was sold. The book could have been complete rubbish and I still would have bought it. Fortunately the book is far from rubbish. The book is about 90% photo hints and tips and about 10% post processing which is fine with me. I probably underprocess my images but I'd rather spend my time out shooting than sitting behind a computer tweaking an image to the inth degree.

Here's some things I'll be adding to my equipment to buy list and reason for adding them:

1 - Small handheld mirror -- for checking my look, you know I want to look nice for the critters :). Seriously though this is so I can reflect light onto a subject if it's not evenly lit.

2 - Extension tubes -- to allow for closer focusing distances with telephoto lenses.

3 - Small foldable reflectors - to serve the same purpose as #1 but to do so with different lighting.

4 - 1.4x extender - to give me extra reach.  This is probably the first thing I will buy. I can use it with my EF-200 2.8 to give me an EF 280 f/4 which is pretty close to the 300mm focal length that's pretty popular for nature photography.

5 - Battery grip - I've used them with my Rebel XT, 40D and 5D and just need to buy one for the 7D.

I'm sure there's other things I'd like to add to the list but that's plenty for now :).

I really liked the format of the book. For each tip the author described it in detail and provided a photo sample that was taken using the tip. He also included exposure information for each photo included in the book. For me this is a big help. I realize that every shot is going to have its own unique requirements but being able to see what the photographer used to get that particular shot at least gives me a starting point to work from.

A couple of things I learned from it that I've been experimenting with include manually selecting a single focus point instead of using all 19 or any of the focus zones available on the 7D and to slow down and think about the shot before pressing the shutter. Sure I'll still use spray and pray for birds in flight but for static subjects I'm spending more time composing the shot than I have in the past. I suppose another lesson I learned is to just slow down, take it easy and enjoy the environment (which I'll admit can be tough to do when there's gnats or misquitos flying about).

Regarding the cover photo that sold me on the book. That's a Black-tailed Godwit and was photographed in Texel, Holland using a Canon 1DS, EF 500 with 1.4x extender. 1/500th at f/8, ISO 250.

Below is a link for the book on Amazon. If you use it to buy the book I'll earn a small commission and you'll learn 100 ways to improve your nature and wildlife photos.

Rule of Thirds with the Canon Rebel 7D

If you read the previous post I did regarding the Rule of Thirds with the Canon Rebel T2i then you already know the scoop behind this post. If you haven't either click the link above or here's a brief introduction. Below is a series of pictures shot using each of the 19 focus points on the 7D. The objective is to see which of those points line up with a rule of thirds grid.
Simulated 7D Focusing Screen
Click Image to View Larger Version
Another masterpiece I created all by myself. Move over Scott Kelby there's a new Photoshop guy in town :).

Keep in mind the focus point was placed, as close as possible on the hole in the front door of the bird house so we'll be looking at how close that hole is in relation to the rule of thirds grid lines.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken using focus point #1. As you can see using the center point doesn't come close to any of the grid lines but still for birds in flight this is the point I'll use most often.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #2. It's better because it falls just below the upper horizontal line.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #3. As you can see this is very close to falling on the exact intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines. I'll be using this focus point more in the future.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #4. It's not even close so unless it gets selected when shooting using all 19 focus points I'm not likely to use it.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This shot was taken after moving the focus point to #5. It's a little low as far as the upper horizontal line goes but because it is pretty close to the horizontal line it's worth using.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #6. Because it falls well out side of either line I'm not likely to use it.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #7. It's close but not really close enough that I'd likely use it.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #8. Like #3 above this one is pretty close to falling right on the lower right hand intersection. This will be a preferred focus point in the future.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #9. Again it's close but not quite close enough in my book.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #10. It would to in a pinch if I couldn't select a better focus point to use.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #11. Close but not close enough. 
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #12. Like #3 and #8 before it I'm making it a preferred focusing point.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #13. Nope, doesn't cut it, IMO. Which is odd because 13 has been a lucky number for me.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #14. It will work since it falls along a vertical line but it's not an optimal focus point.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #15. It can join #13 in the I won't be using focus point club.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #16. It's close but not likely to be used very often.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #17. Bingo another one that comes very close to matching the exact intersection. So far we have #3, #8, #12 and #17 in the preferred focus point club.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #18. It falls above the upper horizontal line so I probably wouldn't use it.
Click Image to View Larger Version
This picture was taken after moving the focus point to #19. Although it falls below the horizontal line it's pretty close so I suppose it could be used in a pinch.

So in my opinion the optimal focus points to use with your 7D if you want to follow the rule of thirds are #3, #8, #12, and #17. Do you agree or disagree? Discuss....