Birds

Goldfinch (Two Photographs) and a Word on Location

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In many articles on animal photography the suggestion is to get to know the behavior and habits of the animals you wish to shoot. These photos of goldfinch were taken in two different nature reserves. In one, the goldfinch are elusive and tend to hide, in the other they are more comfortable around people. Similar things happen with common painted turtles; in one reserve they scatter as soon as they see people, in another they ignore you completely. Understanding even a small part of the behavior of animal subjects can prove useful.


Warblers (Two Photographs)

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Warblers, in this case a Yellow-rumped Warbler, are the most sought after birds in the areas I visit. During the warbler migration, you see birders and photographers in numbers with long lens and scopes. While you can hear them, seeing these small birds is another thing altogether. Plus, it is rare for them to remain still for long. People come to a reserve because they have heard that a certain warbler might be there; often by the time they hear about them they have moved on. To add insult to injury it is early in the photography season and most of us are getting used to using long lenses again. Needless to say these are my first warbler shots of 2017. I am still tweaking my settings, specifically the minimum speed I will allow the camera to use when in auto-ISO mode. Given that vibration reduction is meant to permit steady shots at lower shutter speeds, my first efforts were at 1/360th of a second. I think a slightly higher speed would provide better assurance on my 200-500mm Nikon lens.


Adventure (Two Photographs)

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The weather turned, the snow melted; the mud and flooding were obstacles but double-digit temperatures made all the difference. Like every year when the weather breaks new opportunities arise. There are all the things about my camera I forgot, plus the added excitement of seeing new things but not knowing quite what they will be. For me these are some of the elementst that makes photography both a challenge and an adventure. (Unfortunately shortly after this the incessant rains and flooding began).


Egret in Black and White – Luminosity Masks (Two Photographs)

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To get white objects white we often have to under expose to get detail. I wanted to take that a step further and make the Egret really stand out. I used two different kinds of luminosity masks: Greg Benz’s Lumenzia and a luminous mask in Tonality Pro (the Mac only black and white conversion software). My aim was to see the results of really darkening the background while maintaining some detail and at the same time pulling out as much of the detail as I could in the Egret. An interesting experiment that I can build on with other shots but probably not to this degree.


American Widgeon in Black and White (Two Photographs)

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I wanted to separate the black and white from the color versions I posted two days ago. The B&Ws are very different pictures; not a lot of work involved in the processing; choosing a color filter and addressing contrast issues. These photos speak for themselves and in a different way than the color versions. I am not choosing between them, I chose the original shots with the four versions in mind. I have tried to figure out why there is a loss of contrast when some B&W photos are turned into SRGB JPGs, this is something I need to work on.


American Widgeon (Two Photographs)

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These beautiful ducks are one of the more impressive varieties in the park I visit. They tend to attract photographers and an audience does not concern them. One thing I have noticed about ducks is that while it would be nice to get down at eye level with them, and some people do this, it changes the nature and color of the water. Moreover, the lightest parts of the duck tend to get blown out by the natural light; just a slight angle gives a far better perspective on them. Given the detail they are just as nice in black and white, but that’s for another day.


Industrial Feeding (Three Photographs)

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At the beginning of what turned out to be a long cold snowy winter at my favorite nature reserve, I saw a man dragging an industrial sized bag of feed toward the river. When he got close to the shore he ripped a hole in the bag and dragged it to the water’s edge and around the opening to the water in a large semi-circle. Not surprisingly a huge horde of ducks appeared and almost instantaneously began feeding. The noise and hullabaloo were something to see. He proceeded to take photographs and stayed much longer than I did. In the midst of the debate on feeding wildlife, this was extraordinary. I am still of two minds on the feeding of wildlife but it was interesting to see the lengths one person went. You can fault me for taking advantage of the circumstances, but I was a bystander.