Saturday, December 20, 2014

'Tis the Season

It's Christmas time again and all through the house my wife is stirring like mad trying to get things done - like decorating.  She loves to decorate for the changing seasons and other special occasions.  This Christmas has been more hectic than usual because she has several things going on at once and is currently in Texas for a  wedding.  I couldn't go because it is my turn to be on stand-by this week for work related matters.  So, between the phone calls that came in today I thought I'd shoot some photos of what she's done so far.  Hope you enjoy!  And, Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fall: The Season

Fall is a beautiful time of the year here in the north.  The daytime temps are not too hot, not too cold.  The sun is lower in the sky.  Leaves display a kaleidoscope of color.  Many animals and insects enjoy the mating game.  Apples are harvested.  Fall festivals take place.  Birds start their migrations.  This is a photo essay of this years' Fall season.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Drawing You Into the Scene of an Autumn Forrest

Earlier this week, for the first time, I visited the Brecksville Reservation which is part of the Cuyahoga National Park.  I've been to other areas of this park in the past but it's large, which is good, so holds plenty more exploration opportunities in the future.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Many Faces of Eliana

Our second granddaughter was 1 year old this Friday so it was only natural she have her picture taken while Mindy and I were babysitting.  She is a total joy to have around and it is great to be able to watch her grow.  She exhibits so many different expressions that I want to show some of them here. But one thing they have in common is the idea that she is one happy little girl.  More after the break.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stunned and Dazed

This little sparrow looks okay now but it had flown hard into our sunroom glass door.  I happened to be resting in the sunroom facing the door when I saw the bird and heard the thud.  Feathers flew and the bird dropped, sprawled out on the patio. When I got up to investigate it got to its feet after about 10 seconds and just sat there, not moving.  It was at least 30+ minutes before it finally flew away, obviously okay.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All Creatures Great and Small

This is a photo essay of some of the various wildlife I've encountered recently.  Whether found in the backyard, state park, or a wildlife preserve I love trying to get photos of all I see.  Do click on a photo for a larger view.  Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Does f/40 Look Like From Nikon's 105mm Macro

 Assortment @ f/25
I've had this lens for awhile now and don't think I've used it beyond f/16, and then only rarely because I strive for critical sharpness most of the time and anything beyond f/11 on this sensor will start to rob it of acuity.  We had some flowers in the house for Mindy's birthday (thank you Jenn) and they were begging to be shot so I grabbed the D600 with the 105mm attached and started firing away at f/25.  Why f/25?  Simply because I hadn't done it before and was wanting as much in focus as possible close up.    

Monday, September 8, 2014

Super Harvest Moon

Super Harvest Moon, 9-8-2014 @ 9:38 PM ET
Wouldn't you know that tonight with the super harvest moon making an appearance the sky would fill with clouds.  I went outside anyway hoping for a small break in that thick canopy of moisture that had moved up from the south and caught this at 9:38 PM.  Now, I had read that at precisely 9:38 PM the full Harvest Moon would arrive here in the east time zone and that ever small break in the clouds happened right then and I triggered the shutter.  It wasn't a clear opening but at least the moon wasn't hidden like it was right before and after this shot.  In fact, I had to slow the shutter speed down to 1/40s @ f/8 to get this.  My first attempt was 1/200 @ f/8 but I ended up with a black frame so I quickly adjusted and shot again.  If you look at the previous posts this week you'll see I was using 1/200 - 1/250s @ f/8 for those so that gives an indication that the opening I was presented with was not crystal clear.  By the way, the darkening at the top left is due to the cloud cover.  Hope you enjoy.

What To Do When You Can't Sleep

Waxing Gibbous, 99% Illuminated
It was 12:57 AM and I just wasn't tired.  So what to do?  I went outside and shot the moon, what else?  It's certainly been the theme this week.  It wasn't intentional.  It's just worked out that way.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

One Big Cheese Ball

Moon, Waxing Gibbous, 87% Illuminated, 9-5-2014
Ok, it's not really a cheese ball.  It's the moon.  Again.  But it's different.  It's 87% illuminated this time.  And it's a jpeg out of the camera that I processed in LR, not a raw.  My little experiment yesterday really got my attention and I've looked at the raw vs jpeg images again and again since then and can't get over how much better the jpeg looks than what I'm able to get from the raw image.  Try and try as I may I just could not get the raw to look as detailed. Oh, it looks pretty good when viewed by itself but when compared side by side with what I could get from the jpeg image it just doesn't measure up.  And this is very unusual.  I do these comparisons from time to time and until now I've always preferred what I could get from the raw image vs what I could get from the jpeg.  So I'm not sure what it is about the moon that changes that.  It could be as simple as my post-processing skills not being up to snuff.  I am self-taught, after all, and have no doubt there's plenty of room for improvement.  But, for now it's a mystery and I'll post what I think the better of the two.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moon Shot and Post-Processing Comparison

Moon, Waxing Gibbous, 74% illuminated

Yesterday I wrote briefly on how to shoot the moon (btw - the settings I used are just a guide that should at least get you in the ballpark).  If you read it you'll note that I shoot in raw mode and did very little post-processing to that image.  

Today's moon shot will compare one image with more thorough processing to the same image with the processing that I applied to yesterday's moon.  I'll even throw in a jpeg image straight out of the camera to top off the comparison.  The three images shown here are of one moon shot taken this evening, 9/4/2014, with different post-processing applied.  

The image that begins this article is post-processed as such:  Whites +30, Clarity +35, Sharpening 50, Detail 50, Masking 40.  At this point I liked it and stopped.  The settings in the camera are the same as used yesterday with the one exception that I used spot metering this time.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to Shoot the Moon

Moon - Waxing Gibbous, 68% Illuminated, Sept 3, 2014

NOTE:  Be sure to click for a larger view and make sure your device is set to its brightest setting.

To get a successful shot of the moon you first need stable atmospheric conditions.  Also, if shooting in extreme heat or cold you'll want to acclimate your lens to those conditions before shooting.

Next, mount your camera to a sturdy tripod and set it up on solid ground.  I was able to set mine up in the backyard next to our sidewalk so that I stood on the sidewalk with the tripod in the grass.  This way, the chance of me inducing any shake into the rig was minimized.

The settings I used were manual mode, 1/250 @ f/8, ISO 100, matrix metering, mirror up (MUP) with cable release.  The camera/lens combo were the Nikon D7000 and Nikon 300mm f/4 + TC-14EII making for an equivalent fov of 630mm when compared to full frame.

The only thing I did in Lightroom is add 0.3 exposure and +35 clarity.  All other settings were left alone.  I only shoot in raw mode.

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Anatomy of a Yellow Jacket

These little guys tend to instill dread and fear in a lot of people because when aroused they can be aggressive and sting repeatedly.  However, as I sat on the patio steps this evening and noticed a few in the plants right beside me they seemed much more interested in eating (at least I think that's what they were doing) than they were in me.  So, I went inside and grabbed the camera and tried to get some shots of these little beasts from different angles.  Fortunately, they seemed oblivious to what I was doing and went about their business leaving me free to shoot at will.  While they can be a nuisance in large numbers, even deadly, they do offer a benefit by consuming insects and helping to keep garden pests in check.  While they are not an endearing creature we want to love, I do find them fascinating when viewing them in these photos.  Hope you enjoy them!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Staying Alert and Being Prepared brings Rewards

Staying alert, being prepared and being at the right place at the right time will certainly bring rewards.  I was recently at the Ottawa Nat'l Wildlife Area for the first time of what will be many, I'm sure.  One very unexpected surprise was the sight of this first year bald eagle flying overhead.  What a gorgeous creature.  I was actually concentrating on a black butterfly in the grass that would not sit still for the 300mm lens when I turned and caught this eagle overhead.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

After the children are grown, married, and have their own family there is nothing sweeter and more precious than grandchildren.  Mindy and I visited our son and his family in Wisconsin this week and had a great time with our granddaughter.  She's almost 2.5 years old and is an absolute joy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hatchlings - Day 13

NOTE:  I put this together last month and now realize I never published it.

When I went out to get the shot of the robins this morning, one of the three jumped out of the nest and onto our porch.  It hasn't been back to the nest as far as I can tell.  From what I had read I thought it would be between Wed and Friday that they leave the nest this week and that seems to be playing out.  In fact, the following morning I found the next empty even though the two you see above were in it the evening before.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shooting Wildlife with the Nikon D7000 + 300mm f/4 + TC-14EII

I figured it was time to put the D7000 back into action for shooting wildlife since I keep wishing for a tighter field of view (fov) than, say, the D600 + 300mm + TC-14EII = 420mm.  With this combo attached to the D7000 it is 630mm equivalent fov.

Hatchlings - Days 8 - 12

Day 8
It's time to update what's going on in the nest with the robins so I'll show up to day 12, which is today.  I left off with days 5 - 7 here in case you missed it and want to have a look.  I'm expecting the nest to be empty sometime later this week as these little one's leave the nest to make their own way in this world.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Barred Owl

A brief trip to Johnson Woods today proved very efficacious and I wish to thank Ron Schaefer for the tip he offered me yesterday as to where I might see this owl.  I keep coming back, in part, hoping to see owls here for a better shot than I got over the winter and was rewarded with this one.  Next on my list is to get a nice action shot of one of these birds.

The outing was cut short because of a tornado warning that popped up in the area so as much as I wanted to stick around the better course of action was to seek safety.  So, till next time.....

Hatchlings - Day 5, 6, and 7

Day 5 - they're filling out nicely with feather features, beaks, and limbs.

Day 6 - starting to look a little more aware.  It's obvious now that the fourth egg is not viable.

Day 7 - as soon as I moved the leaves out of the way for a quick shot this is the response I got.  At least one of three is conditioned for eating.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hatchlings - Day 4

Not much in the way of action here.  Just doing a lot of what babies do.  One of the things I've noticed and been impressed with is how clean momma keeps the nest - no left-over egg shells, no waste, no leaves, no scraps of food on the floor, etc.

Hatchlings - Day 3

This is day 3 since these little one's started hatching.  There are still only three birds with one egg left.  Mother robin has been busy nesting with and feeding her young so I popped in for a quick photo and got out of the way so as to not disturb the little family.