Thursday, June 22, 2017

More Bird Watching

Last weekend, I went back to the little pavilion at the Coopers Rock trout pond, and this time I brought along a flash unit for the camera.

Results are a little better, I think:


This one is my favorite, as it captures a barn swallow with a fly in its mouth.

Here's where the bugs go:


Thank goodness for telephoto lenses... and for tripods.  For without those, I never would have gotten this distant shot of a cedar waxwing.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Bird Watching

I went to the trout pond near Coopers Rock State Forest the other day and spent a little time stalking the wily Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).  This is supposedly one of the most abundant living land bird in North America.  I had to think about that statement for a moment.  Are there abundant dead land birds?   Perhaps they meant zombie passenger pigeons.

Anyway, red-winged blackbirds are not at all common for me, so I was happy to catch a few good shots.



The next on is also a red-winged blackbird, but it doesn't have the red wings.  From what I've read, that indicates that it's an immature male.


I don't speak blackbirdese, so I couldn't tell off-hand that his tweets were immature.

Finally, there's a little pavilion by the pond, where there must have been at least half a dozen barn swallows nesting.  After waiting for several minutes, a few of them began returning to their nesting area.


They're actually pretty colorful birds.  Unfortunately, this shot doesn't show off the blue upper back.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Oh Happy Day

The majority of my "social" activity is doubtlessly my posting photographs to Google Plus.  One of the communities to which I like to post is the Landscape Photography Community, which has periodic themes for their submissions.   Their current theme, event #105, is "Oh Happy Day."  The theme is supposed to be a landscape photo that evokes that emotion (for the photographer, at least).

I had to go all the way back to December 1, 2014, for my Happy DayTM, and that's probably a stretch.


On that day, I was at Englewood Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast.  I had recently bought a Canon EF 70-200 f/4L telephoto lens, and I had been trying to get shots of the various birds and things at the beach.

To the uninitiated, the "L" (Canon Luxury Lenses) series of Canon lenses is their professional line of SLR photography lenses.  Ever the poor boy, I got the bottom end of the best -- a 200 mm lens with no image stabilization (IS), which would have added a couple hundred more dollars to the price tag.

Even when I was just laying on the beach sunbathing, I couldn't keep from futzing with the camera.  I rolled over on my blanket and saw this group of Royal Terns congregating between me and another sunbather.

It was so bright out on the beach that I was able to shoot at the lowest ISO (100) and stopped down to f/16 at 1/100 of a second, hoping to get the best depth of field beyond the birds.  I didn't exactly succeed in that regard, but the results are still nice, maybe even more aesthetic by virtue of keeping the bikini-clad sunbather slightly out of focus.

Still, after all this time, I can appreciate the quality of the lens.  I went back to the camera raw image file and gave it minimum adjustments for brightness and color balance.  The rest is straight out of the camera.   Those are some sharp looking birds in that picture.

So, that's my happy place:  wildlife, a sunny beach on the ocean, a nice lens, and a little incidental eye candy.  That's a nice place to be.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Happy Fascination of Plants Day

Fascination of Plants Day is today!

And I have so little prepared in the way of remarks on this solemn day.

Let me introduce you to Jack-in-the-Pulpit then. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a native to eastern North American woodlands.







The bloom consists of a green and reddish-brown striped hood, which conceals a spadix.

It's probably hard to see it in this picture, but there's a tiny little crank down on the right-hand side of the base of the hood.   When you turn the crank for several revolutions, out pops "Jack," or the spadix.




Later in the summer, the spadix turns into a cluster of bright red berries, which often get eaten by birds and mammals.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ferny

Another Sunday afternoon on the rail trail, at my favorite section above Little Falls.  I was on foot once again, being afraid to cause more damage to the bumper of my Mazda CX-5 by wrestling a bike in and out of the back.

I saw a nice stand of ferns, which look somewhat different from the rest of the ferns along the rail trail.  These look more like some form of maidenhair:


I took this shot with the idea that it would make an interesting screen texture.  This is an Enfused shot composed of three bracketed exposures:  1/25, 1/50, and 1/100 sec at f/13,  The Enfusion is similar to an HDR shot, but I think it gives a more faithful mixing of the high and low ends of the exposure spectrum.  Honestly, I find it hard to see a difference between the Enfused and the HDR versions, but I'm discounting the fact that I had done a bit of laborious darkening of some of the foliage in the HDR version.

Here is the Enfused version (left) next to the HDR version (right).  See if you can tell the difference:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Going Retro

Late last year, I got the itch to go retro and started looking at old film cameras.  On the ShopGoodwill.com site, I took a chance on an untested Zeiss Icon Nettar 515/16.  It's the second one on this page.  What I got for about $22 was a NICE old camera that takes 6x6 cm pictures on 120 film.

Although I wasted no time in getting some black & white film and trying it out, I was slow in finally getting the film processed.  TheDarkRoom.com was a site that came recommended to me, and they are one of the few places that handle 210 film.  Part of the process includes scanning the negatives and posting the images online for you to download.  Price determines the resolution of the scan.  

This camera is seriously manual.   You have to remember to wind it every time you shoot, ergo:


That's the old Morgantown Ordinance Works on the other side of the Monongahela River.   They used to make heavy water there as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Here's one that came out a little better:


Other than a little spot removal, this is pretty much straight out of the camera.  I used Ilford HP5 black & white film at 400 ISO.  I'm sort of familiar with that film, because the Ilford preset is one of my favorite settings in the Silver Efex Pro suite by Nik.  I'm probably being snobbish here, but the real thing is so much better than the simulation.

Now that I've broken the ice, I can't wait to try this camera out some more!