Great Blue Heron Landing (Three Photographs) and a Word on Cropping

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Seems a shame to show this Heron in flight and landing and then talk about something technical, but the bird has done a wonderful job of choreography that my words cannot do justice to. You hear a lot about rules and suggestions concerning cropping. However, all those rules, in my view, add up to ensuring context and/or drama. We crop to keep out the unnecessary, to highlight our subject, and for emphasis. Having said that, when there is drama and/or something specific about a subject that needs highlighting, I see no reason not to center the subject and ignore the rules and suggestions made by most “rules” of cropping




Wood Ducks (Four Photographs) and More on Black and White

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Someone is bound to say that wood ducks are colorful and should be seen in color, so I left the color version in the post. In the days of film when shooting B&W, photographers would put color filters in front of their lenses to affect how color contrast showed up on film, For example, if you wanted a dark sky you placed a red filter on the camera and the sky would turn darker. In B&W conversion software we have the same ability to apply color software filters (only now because you can see the effect we do not have to memorize what each filter does). So in the first B&W shot  a yellow filter brightened the background and in the second,I used an orange filter that highlighted the eyes and beak . In my experience experimenting with these filters as a starting point is the most important step in the conversion to B&W. That we can apply filters in post may or may not be an improvement over the days of film, but it certainly makes digital B&W very versatile.








Ring-Billed Gull (Three Photographs)

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The last time I posted photos of one of these birds I called it a seagull and was rightfully corrected. Names of birds and insects are interesting in and of themselves, never mind the taxonomical questions. Common names often confound the problem; the same animal on one continent has a different common name on another. Moreover there are generic names like Gulls and Seagulls that are easily confused. For these shots I used my 200-500mm lens, and I am learning that it is a little better, especially with birds in flight closer, than farther away. I hear Canon lens are the reverse, better with far away subjects than closer ones. By the way, the bird turned just after the last shot, but I was very happy to get a bird in flight face on.



A Green Heron (Three Photographs)

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It’s hard to tell if this Green Heron was going for a fish or a hairdo. The intense colors and contrast in these photos come from shooting at ISO 400. For a very long time it was my standard starting point. Now I have shifted to auto ISO on the D500 when shooting birds, and often the colors are more toned down. But understanding that this is the case I can shift back and forth in my settings as I chose how to shoot. It’s just one of those things that resulted from trying new things, learning new features on my camera. Well worth the effort!



The Duck Experiment (Three Photographs)

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This photograph was one I set aside mostly because of the background. However I thought it might be good for an experiment. The first shot is Lightroom/Photoshop standard processing, cropping, exposure, sharpening, and levels. The second shot with the original changes was taken into Aurora HDR 2017 and minor adjustments were made to bring out color and detail. The third shot (again building on the basic edit) was converted to B&W, and essentially under exposed to get the effect you see here. Certainly the second shot improves on the first and the B&W stands alone. This was not in my view over-the-top processing; it’s a simple matter of bringing out from the file what was there all along.



The Great Egret (Three Photographs)

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As the summer wore on and the egrets remained one of the highlights of the park, I had more and more opportunity to see and shoot them. I guess they came to the park because of the fish, but I never saw them with a big catch. More interesting to me was the way they seemed to drape their wings like cloaks and hide their long necks, all the while keeping an eye out for predators, competitors and prey.



And Then It Got Closer (Seven Photographs)

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I took a significant number of shots of this egret in flight. At first it was too far away but I was lucky as you can see, it just kept getting closer. The fine line between the sky and a bird in flight, when magnified, shows a slight halo. While I have done some work on the halos, if I was printing these for an exhibit more work would need to be done. I was tempted to do some of these shots in B&W, maybe later. But wow, what an incredible sight, a wonder at the very least.