Friday, July 31, 2015

Radioactive - Behind the Shot

This was taken at Magee Marsh.  A lot of the boardwalk is heavily shaded now but there are patches of bright light when the sun is shining and this combination can make for some challenging photography.  In fact, this place has caused me to set my camera's U1 to 1/200, f/5.6 (with the TC-14EII attached to the 300mm), ISO 400, and SB-700 flash mounted for the shaded areas and U2 is set for 1/800, ISO 100, etc for the brighter areas.  I've done this to help keep the ISO as low as possible since I'm hand-holding and not using a tripod.  Before employing this method I was floating the ISO in Manual mode resulting in up to ISO 12,000 at times .  So, with a quick turn of the dial I'm set for dark or bright situations.

For this shot I'd been in the shade using the U1 setting and at one point turned to see this rabbit sitting there and fired off a quick round.  Now, there's certainly nothing remarkable about this photo - except for that eye.  We've all seen red-eye before but this is the first time I've seen this color combination and found it to be a real attention-getter.  This is, of course, the affect the flash had because the pupil was not able to react (constrict) fast enough for the incoming light of the flash.  What's reflected from the back of the eye and what we see of the color produced made an unremarkable photo a little more exciting I think.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Early Bird Gets the Worm - Behind the Shot

Okay, so it's not a worm but he got it nonetheless.  I'd heard of this bird being at Magee Marsh but had not seen it until this last weekend.  It's about 2 hrs from home and I arrived at 9:30am hoping to catch some bird activity before it got hot later in the day.  As soon as I arrived I ran into Bob who I'd met a couple weeks earlier and he was on his way out, saying he didn't see much that morning.  He mentioned a yellow bird he caught a glimpse of but that was it.

Gray Catbird
Undeterred, I went ahead with my plan to spend quite a bit of time there that morning.  As I hung out in one area and moved little the birds were becoming more and more obvious.  The red-winged blackbirds and gray catbirds are plentiful and easy to spot but most of the other birds can be tough because they are small and hang out in the trees which are thick with leaves right now.  The first of the small songbirds I saw were goldfinches and wrens and wondered if the goldfinches are what Bob glimpsed.  After hanging out watching the goldfinches I moved maybe 20' and saw several of the yellow birds above.  Eventually I was able to get several good shots of them as they seemed to ignore me for the most part.  I didn't know what it was but looking it up have determined it's a Prothonotary Warbler which, as you can see, is quite a stunning bird.

Walk This Way - Behind the Shot

Normal convention says to always get the eyes sharp in your photos.  If all else is blurred make sure the eyes are sharp. Well, this photo shows no eyes at all and I still like it a lot.  In fact, the animals are facing away from the camera which is another big no no.  Looks like I've broken a couple of hard, fast rules.  Good thing I don't live by those rules.  I think of them more as guidelines instead of rules and because I do I get shots like this from time to time.  

There were a bunch of geese lounging on the walkway as I approached and most moved into the water nearby.  These three decided to walk and squawk just ahead of me so I stopped and fired off a round and didn't think much more about it.  When viewing on the computer later I was immediately taken in by the focus/blur of the geese coupled with the symmetrical positioning of the three.  And then there's the "eyes" of the trailing goose that pull me in and make me linger awhile.  I think it is this combination here that really makes this photo work.  So, sometimes breaking the "rules" just might be the right thing to do.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Great Blue Heron - Behind the Shot

I had gotten out early the morning after purchasing a new camera and lens and was exited to get some time afield with them.  Since it was a work day I remained close to home but had a little more than an hour to have some fun.  It was very overcast with what appeared to be no hope for any sunshine while I'd be out but of course, that didn't dampen my spirits.  When I got to the site I was very pleased to see a great blue heron fishing for breakfast.  It was some distance off so I just took some shots before trying to get closer.  After a short while I decided to see how close I could get before it would take flight.  Surprisingly, I got fairly close and it didn't seem to bother the bird as it thrashed about, jumped up and down and played with what appeared to be some type of weed.  It was quite comical to watch and I got a lot of shots to peruse later at home.  Eventually, the bird flew away and I moved on.  As I got to the far side of the area I was in I spotted another great blue heron and it, too, let me get as close as I could without actually wading in the water.  After taking some shots from different angles it was time to head home and get ready for work.  After about twenty steps the sun suddenly shone from behind me.  Surprised, I looked up and saw a small opening in the cloud cover that it was peeking through.  Instinctively, I looked back at the heron and saw a beautiful glance of light on it and hurried back to photograph it.  The photo above is one of a few I was able to get before I forced myself to head home for the workday.

Marsh Mallow - Behind the Shot

As I was walking through a marsh/wetland area these flowers caught my eye.  They are quite large and scattered about and were in full bloom so I took time to capture it.  I've learned (and am still learning) if something captures my visual attention I need to be alert to that fact and photograph it.  I decided on this flower because of the direction of light and the shadow it created.

Beautiful Female Cardinal - Behind the Shot

I'd been at Magee Marsh for several hours this last weekend listening to the birds and trying to find these skittish creatures amongst the thick growth of trees, grasses and weeds.  The more I stay put in one place and don't move around too much the more the birds come in and the more I see happening around me.  Such was the case when this cardinal landed on the boardwalk not far from where I stood and allowed several pictures before taking to the trees.  Though I had some good shots of her on the ground I really wanted her in the trees which proved a little more difficult because now I was moving and so was she.  But I kept pursuing until, finally, she settled on this branch long enough for a shot.     

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Surprised Doe in the Field - Behind the Shot

Earlier this month I was on vacation and it allowed me to get out of the house relatively early without having to get back home in time for work.  Rains had just passed through that morning and it was still overcast and rather gloomy but I was having a good time just being out.  I'd been in the field for awhile shooting birds, flowers, butterflies, and rain drops when I turned to start walking and this doe was right there.  She had her head down in the tall grass eating and I hurriedly tripped the shutter as her head and, more importantly, eye were still visible.  As soon as the mirror slapped she rose with a start and I quickly triggered the shutter again and got this image before she ran off.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shooting Waterfalls sans Filter

I went out recently specifically to hike and shoot a couple waterfalls in the area.  I had been to one of them once before and would be seeing the other for the first time.  Heavy rains had just passed thru the day before so I knew that should make for some nice 'falls.  Most of these pictures are from Blue Hen Falls and the only time I was there before was a couple years ago and it was dry.