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.