Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Another First - A Pansy

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e, 1/250, f/4, ISO 100
This is the first flower of the season I've photographed.  As I was looking in the backyard this morning the flower caught my eye but its back was to me so I wasn't sure just what it was.  Once I went out for a look I knew it needed its picture taken.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Lot of "Firsts"

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 220

As I stated here the warblers are starting to show up at Magee Marsh and this Palm Warbler is a first for me.  I'm fairly new to the birding scene so I'll have a lot of "firsts", no doubt.  I was not able to make the Magee scene of the Biggest Week in American Birding at all last May so am very much looking forward to it this year...which will be another "first" for me.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 125

Monday, April 25, 2016

Close Up - Yellow-rump Warbler

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm @ 500mm, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 560

Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor, Ohio is internationally known for its spring migration of warblers and they're starting to show up now.  This is a photo of a Yellow-rump Warbler I took this last weekend while there.  These particular birds were plentiful but that doesn't make them easy to shoot as they are small and always on the move.  I am particularly delighted with this shot because of the catch light in the eye which is so important when photographing birds.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm @ 500mm, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 250

In this shot I didn't get the catch light but there is a hint of light at the lower right edge of the eye.  The reason for showing it is that it shows off the yellow rump for which the bird is named.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Little Experiment - This Was Just a Test

700mm, 1/400, f/8, ISO 200, Handheld
Somebody asked me on the Birding Ohio FB page the other day if the 200-500mm lens was adequate most of the time in relation to this image. Then he mentioned he sees a lot of people that want the 60x and 80x cameras that we can't get in a DSLR.  Here was my answer, 

"I think regardless of how many mm one has we always want more when shooting birds. Sometimes I pair the lens with my Nikon D7000 which gives the 35mm equivalent of 750mm fov but I prefer the D750 so much more that maybe that's my answer to you. I make the 500mm be adequate. And sometimes when I have to have more I'll pair the lens with the TC-14E II which gives me 700mm on the full-frame camera. About those 60 and 80x cameras, they generally have a smaller sensor which can start eating into image quality pretty quickly unless one is very careful about its use. That's about all I can say about those, though, because I have no practical experience with them. I hope this helps." 

He replied back saying he uses a Panasonic Z1000 the most but then added, "I think you nailed it with, "I make it be adequate."  So many people just keep after the next great thing and forget about the basics of quality."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Winter Wren

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1250
Winter finally released its hold and Spring is making its presence known to human and animal alike.  We've had a lot of rain and are experiencing warmer temperatures.  The grass is growing, flowers are blooming and trees are budding.  And, of course, the animals are coming out of hibernation and birds are migrating once again.  The image above is of a Winter Wren from Magee Marsh this last weekend.  This little bird is tough to spot and tougher to shoot because it spends a lot of time on the ground under logs and such and never stops moving.  And it is quick.  But it made for a fun (and, truth be told, frustrating) challenge.  In the end, patience and persistance paid off.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sandhill Crane at Sunset - Behind the Shot

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 1600

Recently, I worked in Whitmore Lake, Mi and stayed in Brighton, Mi nearby for the main purpose of hoping to visit Kensington Metropark at some point during my stay.  I had learned the Great Blue Herons were busy with nesting activities and an Osprey pair were back and busy with the same which I wrote about here and here.  

One night after work I rushed over there having about an hour before sunset.  It had been cold and raining most of the day but there were now peeks of sunshine here and there between the cloud cover.  As I was trying to shoot the Herons and Egrets going about their activities I realized pretty quickly I'd have to move from the boardwalk because that had me shooting into the direction of the sun which silhouetted the birds.  As I was moving toward the woods south and west of the boardwalk to take up a different position two Sandhill Cranes were walking toward me on the narrow path.  I stopped briefly to check the position of the sun and amount of cloud cover and while doing so the cranes walked right passed me.  I ignored them photographically because the sun was hidden by clouds so the light was just not interesting.  As I moved on just a few steps there was a break in the clouds that allowed the sun to shine thru so I turned to check the cranes and got a few shots with nice light on them.  These are a couple of those shots.  Note how they are facing west by the shadow cast which puts the sun at my back.  Now was the time to trip the shutter.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 1600

Friday, April 8, 2016

Osprey - Him on Her - Not

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 800

This series will show the behavior I mentioned in this post that helped me identify which bird was male and female.  It happened quick.  The timestamp has the first photo pegged at 8:32:24 and the last at 8:32:25 on April 2, 2016.  When I began saving the images as jpeg so they could be shown here I thought the maybe the first three didn't belong in this series but when I checked the time out of curiosity they undoubtedly belong.  So the male comes in full-frontal and face-on to the female then does an abrupt 180 and lands on her back.  It appeared that he slipped off and nothing more happened as I watched it occur.  So I don't know if this was play or a botched attempt at mating or something else altogether but it was interesting to witness and I'm glad to have the images of it.  

All of these images were shot with the same equipment and settings as mentioned under the first photo.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nesting Osprey

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @ 500mm, 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 800
I was able to spend a little time at Kensington Metropark in Michigan recently and was treated to an Osprey pair building up and reinforcing their nest.  The photo above shows the two at rest and is the full view thru a 500mm lens.  The images that come after are cropped for a closer view and show one of the Osprey (I'm sure it's the male because right after this series I have another of him on top of the female) bringing a stick to the nest.  I've shown them in the order in which they were taken.  Do remember to click the images for a larger view.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Taking for Granted the Common

Nikon D600, Nikkor 300mm f/4 @ f/5.6, 1/320, ISO 100

We see them all the time and yet we don't "see" them at all.  They're everywhere you look and yet, invisible.  They frequent our yards and trees every day throughout the season.  They nest and raise their young in our bushes.  We wake up and go to sleep with their song ringing in our ears.  After a time, some even want them to just be quite so they can sleep.  We ignore them photographically  because they're too common and yet, they can be quite striking in appearance.  And, they usually let us get within a few feet of them before hopping away just enough to maintain that "safe" personal space.  They're taken for granted probably like no other.  They're the American Robin.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f/4 + TC-14II @ 630mm, 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 280

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 400mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 400

I spent this last Saturday at Magee Marsh and Ottawa Nat'l Wildlife Refuge having arrived about 08:30 and didn't head for home until 17:00.  The temp was 28 degrees when I got there and warmed all the way up to about 43.  I started off at Magee Marsh and spent the first few hours there.  It's certainly not even close to being green yet but many of the trees and plants do contain signs of Spring.  It seems there are branches and twigs everywhere you look so getting a clean shot of any bird is quite a challenge and longer focal lengths certainly help isolate the subject but cropping in post is almost a must.

The Brown Creeper

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 100

This is a neat little bird.  It flies to the base of a tree and works its way up by going round and round the trunk and branches, pressing its beak into the crevices of bark looking for insects and spiders to feast on.  When not presented in profile the Brown Creeper can be especially difficult to see as it blends with the tree bark very well.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ 300mm, 1/320, f/4, ISO 100
 Here, this one is working its way around the tree probing the crevices...

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ 300mm, 1/400, f/4, ISO 100
and comes up with a tasty morsel.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ 300mm, 1/400, f/4, ISO 100

So, down the hatch it goes.  I almost didn't post this last image because it's blurry due to the shutter speed being too slow but it completes the story so chose to show it anyway.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Nice Light

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/7.1, ISO 100

This photo of a Mourning Dove was taken 14 minutes after this one and, again, I couldn't resist the nice light illuminating the bird.  Yeah, it's not a great shot with the bird perched on the gutter and partially hidden from view but this just goes to show that's it's not always about the subject or object being photographed.  It's about the light.

Friday, March 25, 2016

House or Purple Finch

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 250
When we moved to Ohio about eight years ago and saw these birds in the backyard we called them Purple Finches w/out giving it a thought.  Of course, we were not birders nor was I into photography at that time.  Once I did get into photography about five years ago and had taken some photos of these birds it came to my attention we may have been misidentifying this bird all along.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 400

What we'd been calling a Purple Finch is in fact a House Finch as you see here.  These photos are of the male.  To keep it simple, the House Finch has plenty of brown with brown streaking on its upper and underparts, a red breast, and striped or streaked belly pattern.  The Purple Finch underparts are white with a red-brown breast and its belly pattern is solid and more pink in color.  Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of a Purple Finch that I'm aware of so am providing a description from iBird Plus: North America.

Shooting What's at Hand When I Can't Get Out

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 160
I'm fortunate to be able to work from home so when there is a little down time I work on culling or post-processing images or look for photo opportunities.  Sometimes the sun is shining but too often it's overcast this time of year in Northeast Ohio.  For the photo above  taken a few days ago of a House Sparrow it was 13:35 and the sun was peeking out from cloud cover and lent a nice warm glow which illuminated the bird nicely and even provided a catch-light in the eye as he was perched in our Japanese Maple tree.  I couldn't pass it up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting Closer

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 100
There's a few birds that have crossed my path that I've not gotten a good photo of yet and the Northern Flicker is one of them.  You could call it one of my nemesis birds.  I saw this one at Ottawa Nat'l Wildlife Refuge this last weekend in heavy, dry brush so tried again for a good shot.  

The bird stayed on the ground in the thick stuff for a while so I waited patiently.  Eventually he flew to this tree (via heavy cover) and stuck like glue.  The tree is right at the edge of a creek and he is facing south where the sun was covered by clouds.  Try as I may I just couldn't get a clear, unobstructed shot so this will have to do for now.  I'm getting closer, though.

Monday, March 21, 2016

To Like It, or Not to Like It

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100
I haven't made up my mind about this Swan image.  I like the low profile and sharpness.  I love the illusion of silk in the feathers as the sunlight illuminates them.  The blurred background of water, grasses, trees, and sky is beautiful.  The kiss of sunlight is magical.  The white feathers are highlighted perfectly.  It's that little bit of foreground that bothers me a bit.  It's blurred, to be sure.  And there was no escaping it as this Swan was lying just off the road to one side and I was laying on the ground on the opposite side.  I just want to see the full view of the Swan, or more precise, Swan touching ground for the full, uninterrupted view. So, I like it but...

Is it just me?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Bluejay, the Blackbird and the Wren

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 100
It was a tough day for bird photos as a strong wind blew this afternoon.  It probably kept the birds down for the most part.  Fortunately, I didn't get skunked and came away with a couple photos I really liked in the Blue Jay and Red-winged Blackbird.  For the image above the Blue Jay flew down to a log right in front of me which provided nice separation from the background.  The Carolina Wren image is so so with a very busy background but I'm including it anyway because I don't see these birds very often.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 270mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 100

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ 300mm, 1/640, f/4, ISO 250

The Arachnid and the Painted Turtle

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100

These are the first turtle pictures of the season that I've taken and only discovered the spider when viewing on the computer screen at home.  You can see it clearly on top of the shell in the first picture and then...

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/320, f/5.6, ISO 100 the second picture it has moved further to the edge near the base of the turtles neck.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/320, f/5.6, ISO 100

In this last shot it appears the spider is reaching out to sink its fangs into the base of that neck.  Of course, I don't know if that's what actually happened but I found it interesting anyway.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dancing in the Snow

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, f/5/6, 1/320, ISO 360
While at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on 3/5/2016 I caught this Sandhill Crane dancing in the snow.  There were actually two of them but the other stayed back (must've been the guy) while this one took to the dance floor by itself.  It snowed the entire 5 hrs I was out that day and I loved every single second of it.  This photo is just one example why.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Having Fun with some Sandhill Crane Behavior

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO 250 
I heard them well before I saw them and knew they could be none other than those gregarious, garrulous, and even noisy Sandhill Crane.  As I rounded the corner and saw them a little ways off I decided to just keep walking and hoped they wouldn't retreat further back into Crane Creek.  Fortunately, they didn't seem to mind me terribly and just went about doing what they were doing.  For these two images (the first is a crop of the one below) I was focused on the bird in the center which was playing with and tossing a stick around.  I liked the way they were paired up and spaced out.  It appears we have two love birds, two indifferent, one loner entertaining itself, and two fussing at each other.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO 250 

Photogenic - The White-breasted Nuthatch

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ f/4, 1/1000, ISO 140
I find birds to be incredibly photogenic with their combination of intricate feathers, postures, behaviors, inquisitiveness, colors, etc.  And certainly the White-breasted Nuthatch gives no photogenic ground up to any other.  I think they are a very interesting combination of white, blue, and black and quite striking in appearance and will photograph them at any opportunity.

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ f/4, 1/800, ISO 140

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4e @ f/4, 1/500, ISO 250

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Out for a Walk

Nikon D750, Nikkor 300mm f/4 @ f/4, 1/800, ISO 720
This photo was taken at Sheldon Marsh in Feb. of this year.  There are some birds around to be sure, but I think the squirrels outnumber them right now.  I tend to pass up a lot of squirrels without feeling compelled to take their picture but every once in while one of them grabs my attention.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

American Tree Sparrow

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @500mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 125
The backyard feeders have been surrounded by Tree sparrows lately.  I caught this one in the snow on the ground away from where all the seeds have fallen so the frame wasn't full of "dirty" snow.  These little birds spend the winter here and will head far north in early Spring to breed and raise their young together and will continue to feed them until about two weeks after they leave the nest. 

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e @500mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 110

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bald Eagle - First Year

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/2500, ISO 140
Here's another shot of one of the many eagles I photographed at Ottawa Nat'l Wildlife Refuge earlier this month.  I like the uplifted wings, spread tail, and catch light in the eye.  As mentioned in yesterday's post I believe this is a first year bird, of which there were several.  This particular refuge is almost two hours from were I live but the eagles certainly help make the trip worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Eagles Have Landed

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 @ 500mm, 1/2500, ISO 400
I can find eagles almost at will in Ohio now which is quite a bit different than what I mentioned here a few years ago.  (Wow!  I just saw those photos from the link and cringed and almost didn't mention the post from then.  But, that's apparently where I was in my photography-related development stage so it's interesting to see the contrast from then till now.  Hopefully, in a few more years I'll look back on today and feel the same way again.)  This photo is a heavy crop but I love the detail and windblown feathers.  And the catch light in the eye is a real bonus.  The winds were gusting to 25mph on this day so I was really glad to have the heft of the 200-500mm lens.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ring-billed gull at Huron Harbor

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC-14II @ 700mm, 1/3200, f/8, ISO 1400
These photos are from the same place and time as the previous post but with different results.  This time it was a Ring-billed gull that got fed.  The images are still much softer than I'd like but I hope they will pass as being okay here.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Herring Gull Fishing for a Meal

Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC-14II @ 700mm, 1/3200, f/8, ISO 1000
I finally got out for a bit this last Saturday and went to the Huron Harbor because I knew there would be birds there as long as there was still open water.  And there was open water.  Only part of the harbor was frozen over.  So I walked out to where the open water met the frozen and there were a number of gulls flying around looking for a meal.  Now, I'm a relative newbie at this kind of photography event.  I've photographed gulls before but not for the specific purpose of catching them in action while fishing for a meal.