Tag Archives: Bird Photography

Just Like Starting Over

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Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m working with new software (Lightroom) and a new camera (Nikon D7100). Yesterday it occurred to me that I’m really working with three new cameras, because I’ve only had the Fujifilm X100s for slightly over a year, and the Nikon D610 for less than a year. I have not learned how to operate any of these cameras as comprehensively as I did my old Nikon D300, but I look forward to digging deeper.

Since the D7100 is newest and purpose-purchased for wildlife, I’ve taken it to Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve to learn how it works, and here is the main thing I have discovered: I need to start using a tripod or monopod, because 24 megapixels exaggerates my lack of steadiness when using the equivalent of a 510mm lens (200mm + 1.7x teleconverter on 1.5x cropped sensor = 510mm). I’ve gotten some sharp images, but a pretty low keeper rate so far. I’m not sure if I’m mis-focusing or shaking, but I’m working on it.

A Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Also a very small part of the frame, because even 510mm equivalent is no replacement for actual proximity.

A Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Also a very small part of the frame, because even 510mm equivalent is no replacement for actual proximity. This is when 24 megapixels really helps me.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

Nikon D7100, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII.

High resolution really helps when I cannot get close.

High resolution really helps when I cannot get close.

Here is the full frame from which the above image was cropped.

Here is the full frame from which the above image was cropped.

Usually I fret that I have too much gear, but yesterday I had the opportunity to use all three cameras. I took a long walk with the FujiFilm X100s and got a couple of grab shots, used the D7100 for some backyard colors, and brought out the D610 when my son wanted a picture under a very complex lighting scenario.

I had set the X100s to full auto as a walk-around camera. When I stopped for a beer, I liked this scene and simply pressed the button. No muss, no fuss.

I had set the X100s to full auto as a walk-around camera. When I stopped for a beer, I liked this scene and simply pressed the button. No muss, no fuss. And yes, the X100s has been used more in bars than any other location. Since I haven’t been going out much, the X100s has gotten little use in recent months.

Here's the sort of serendipitous scene that reminds me to carry a camera. I fired the X100s from the hip while walking by.

Here’s the sort of serendipitous scene that reminds me to carry a camera. I fired the X100s from the hip while walking by. I love the fact that I can carry this lightweight, large sensor camera around my neck.

In the late afternoon, I stepped into the backyard with the D7100 and 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor to see what I could see. What I saw were interesting colors...

In the late afternoon, I stepped into the backyard with the D7100 and 105 f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor to see what I could see. What I saw were interesting colors. This is surely one of my favorite lenses, and delivers beautiful results on both camera bodies.

The Dancers. Nikon D7100, 105 f/2.8 Micro.

The Dancers. Nikon D7100, 105 f/2.8 Micro.

John had read an article about how the metrosexual was not being replaced by the "Lumbersexual," and as he was working with a chainsaw in our front yard, he decided a photo was in order. The sun had gone down, so I grabbed the D610 and 85mm f/1.4. Even using the built-in flash with this backlit scene, the foreground was dark, but with lots of recovery latitude.

My son read an article about how the metrosexual was being supplanted by the “Lumbersexual,” and as he was working with a chainsaw in our front yard, he decided a photo was in order. The sun had gone down, so I grabbed the D610 and 85mm f/1.4. Even using the built-in flash with this backlit scene, the foreground was dark, but with lots of recovery latitude. All hail big sensors!

A lot of angst goes into each camera or software decision for me, but every piece of new gear also gets me to play and experiment like I did as a youngster, and that stimulates learning. I’m also somewhat amazed at how different my images look when processed through Lightroom rather than Aperture, which I used for years. I’m still not sure if the look is better, but it is very, very different. Guess I’ll just have to play more to learn more.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Nature Photography

The Song My Photos Were Waiting For

On my 56th birthday last April, I went to see Aimee Mann perform with poet Billy Collins. On that same day, I received her new album with Ted Leo, performing as The Both. It included the song, “Hummingbird.” Like Nessun Dorma, this is a song that just gets me, so I decided to use some of my wildlife photos to make a slideshow with the song.

And this is where being a lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer kinda bites me in the butt, because I couldn’t find a lot of my best wildlife pictures, distributed as they are among several computers, many hard drives, and many, many, optical discs. Oh well, the song is beautiful and some of these images are pretty good too.

Works for me. I would say that “One of these days I need to get organized,” but it’s not going to happen. So it goes.

Oh, and I don’t really have the right to use the song, but maybe if you buy The Both, and everything else Aimee Mann and Ted Leo have created, they’ll give me a pass. Thanks.

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Filed under Nature Photography, Personal

Backyard Bird Therapy

Last night I indulged my insomnia by listening to a lot of Aimee Mann, watching V for Vendetta, and then watching a documentary about Gene Clark, one of the founders of The Byrds. Woke up depressed, and even a motorcycle commute to work did not cheer me up. But when I got home, things got better. I do want a much longer lens, though. These are very small portions of the frame..

All shot with Nikon D610, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17eII teleconverter.

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Filed under Motivation, Nature Photography

What is Photography To Me?

A very pedestrian bored-at-dinner shot turned into something a little more compelling by clicking a few buttons and moving some sliders. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, if you like the end result.

A very pedestrian bored-at-dinner shot turned into something a little more compelling by clicking a few buttons and moving some sliders. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, if you like the end result.

A friend in the Photo Club recently asked that we disqualify one of his images from our Annual Awards because he did a lot of post-processing and it is his personal belief that a photograph must come straight from the camera. That doesn’t explain why he submitted the image in the first place, but personally, I tend to tune out any discussion of “what photography is,” because I’m still trying to understand what photography is to me. And that changes sometimes.

Earlier this week, in a fit of insomnia, I opened a long-ago downloaded but never used iPhone app called Snapseed.  I modified some old images from my phone’s  library. I never thought I’d enjoy playing with all the heavy-handed photo filters I see on Instagram and Facebook, but I do. I like being able to turn weak or outright failed photos into something odd, and with more potential impact. And it lets me playfully experiment with composition and color and lighting even when I just have a few spare minutes to noodle on my phone. Here are some examples:

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This tree clings to the edge of Bryce Canyon. The original photo was interesting, but his adds a nice surrealism.

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This was a boring, pointless shot of tomatoes. I don’t even know why it was on my phone. Now I like the painterly feel of it.

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This one also springs from an okay original, but in my opinion the effects here add all sorts of mystery to an otherwise very straightforward shadow.

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Not my favorite model, but the most available. And I can get him to do almost anything.

This morning, I wandered outside with what I might consider the opposite of my phone: Nikon D7000, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17IIe teleconverter. I spent some time with my favorite subject: Backyard birds. I shoot in RAW, and the objective of my post-processing in Aperture is to recreate what I saw with my own eyes. It’s quite different from what I’ve been doing in Snapseed, and I cannot imagine myself layering a “grunge” filter onto one of my nature shots, although I might just to see what happens. It’s all photography to me. And a pure joy, too.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Composition, Just for FUN, Motivation, Nature Photography, Personal, Post Processing

Happy New Year

Just some backyard birds from January 1, 2014

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Filed under Just for FUN, Nature Photography