September Gallery

Thirty frames hath September.

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Did you see the heron? Neither did I. I was shooting frames of the creek, and after 4 or 5 shots the heron jumped up and flew toward me, and under the bridge on which I stood!

Take care and keep in touch,

 

Paz

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Photo Shoot: Hummingbirds

Up Close

We’re fortunate to have some Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds live on the Engleville Tick Ranch for the summer. Their arrival in spring is more subtle than that of the hundreds of American Robins roosting in the pine stand on their way north. Much more quiet than the Canada Geese honking their horns at each other. One morning in spring I’ll be sitting in the cabana drinking coffee when I hear the sound of the world’s largest wasp. Well, that’s what it sounds like. The first time you have a hummingbird buzz by you, you’re spinning around looking for the giant bee, ready to run. After that, the sound is immediately recognizable. There’s no other sound like it in my woods.

Backlit Foxglove

The photo above, dark and a bit unfocused, is one of the best images I captured. One of only two with the bird in flight. I was actually shooting the backlit Foxglove shown here, and while doing so, the giant bee flew in and started drinking from the flowers. I could barely move, just enough to swing the lens over and snap a frame. I didn’t dare to move my hands around trying to adjust the camera for better lighting. One of my rules is “Snap the picture first, then if you have time you can do all that other fancy photog stuff like get the light correct and get the subject in focus and compose the image and stuff.”

Yeah, it’s a long rule. Anyways, I snapped the above photo and the following one with the bird hovering a foot-and-a-half from my face.

I spent a number of mornings set up and perched at the cabana, waiting for the Hummingbird to come around to the Foxgloves, the Touch-Me-Nots and any red flower we had. They love red. They frequently get caught inside garages because the release handle on the door opener is red, and they fly in to check it out.

 

The Other Photo

Hummingbirds have nested in the grapevines on the barn, or the corner of the barn with the grapevines. Maybe it’s the same nesting pair, as they go to the same place for the several years I’ve been watching. About thirty feet from that corner of the barn is a crabapple tree, and they like to stop there. It’s probably standard bird behavior; stopping to check for predators before going to the nest, to avoid advertising its location.

Grape vines on the barn

Most days I’d be sitting in the cabana for morning coffee, but a couple of times I set up between the barn and the crabapple tree. It wasn’t easy to choose a good place to set up. I wanted to be able to “reach” the corner of the barn and the crabapple with the 300mm lens, but didn’t want to be so far from the cabana that I’d miss a longer shot if the birds ventured there. Also, I wanted the sun to be behind me (or at least beside me) to avoid backlighting the subject. Lastly, I wanted the shot angle to avoid the domestic surroundings; my boat on the trailer, the Power Wagon parked on the lawn, the rusty chicken wire fence protecting the blueberry patch.

The cabana was hung with several flowering plants including two in red, and just around the corner was the foxglove and touch-me-nots the birds liked to visit regularly.

Hummingbird Lures

The day I put the most effort and time into this pursuit, I set up the camera on the tripod where I could shoot the barn and crabapple. I positioned myself beside the outhouse, so the camera and I would be shielded from direct sunlight. This is as much for lighting as it is for hiding. Hummingbirds are quite wary, and if they see you move they’ll take off like a jet.

From this position, I was able to get a few snapshots, although the bird was backlit when perched in the crabapple. They hung around the young sumac saplings, too, which were just a bit further away than the apple tree. A couple of shots are of the bird perched on a sumac.  So there I am sitting, patiently waiting for the Hummingbird Holy Grail; that perfectly-lighted shot of the bird hovering with its beak in a beautiful flower. (Like the ones above, but lighted and focused!)

As I sit with my eye to the viewfinder, I hear this giant bee come flying in alongside me. The hummingbird came over to the touch-me-nots, about 12 inches from my face, and started feeding on them. Well, I couldn’t move at all, for fear of spooking the bird and driving them from my location. The hummingbird was so close I felt the breeze from its wings on my face as it flitted about. I could just see it out of the corner of my eye.

The setup

Ultimately I was able to get a silhouette of the bird perched in the apple.

Silouette

 

 

Tripod & Touch-Me-Nots

I got around the other side of the apple for a close shot, but the bird was obscured by leaves. In the photo, you just see a splash of ruby red in the midst of green apple leaves. The female lighted elsewhere on the apple and noticed me. There was enough tree between the bird and I that it didn’t flee, but appeared to be trying to figure out what I was. Click any image to start a full-size slide carousel.

Finally, I did get a good shot of a well-lit hummingbird in flight. Unfortunately, it was a wind spinner.

Wind Spinner

Hummingbirds migrate south, usually in mid September.  I wish them bon voyage on their trip. There’s always next year. Meanwhile, I think I’ll look for something bigger.

Wild Turkeys

 

Take care, and keep in touch,

 

Paz

 

My gear: Nikon D3200 DSLR. Most shots with a Nikkor 55-300mm zoom lens with vibration reduction, some with Nikkor 55-200mm VR. Tripod by Vanguard, Alta PRO 264AT. 

Photoshoot: Solar Eclipse

2017 Solar Eclipse

Did quite a bit of reading up and preparing to shoot the solar eclipse. Ordered an inexpensive polymer sheet of solar filter material, advised it would be necessary for most partial phases. (Also made a slit viewer for my wife out of the leftover scrap.) Took the camera out the day before to try some exposures on the full sun with the solar filter.

Set up the tripod and the 300 mm lens in the parking lot behind work, and used a remote release to prevent vibrating the camera with the shutter button. Where I live (work is just outside of the state capital, Albany) we had some cloud cover move in about a third of the way through the action. At times, the sun was completely obscured. At other times it would peek through the clouds. Once the eclipse was well underway and the clouds further inhibited the light, I switched to a couple stacked neutral density filters to knock the light down enough to photograph. The orange images are shot through the solar filter, and the white images through the ND filters. The photos picked up a little color chroma from the ND filters, adding a surprise sepia tone to clouds in a spherical aberration pattern. (They were all white while viewing).

These photos are straight from the camera, in the interest of a “Photoshoot” post. They are untouched and uncropped. I’m still shopping for a teleconverter, which will further “extend” or magnify the focal length of the camera. With a 2x doubler (two-times), the equivalent focal length would have been 600mm. Click any photo to view the media file.

Shooting with the solar filter was pretty much wild guess exposures, with a little knowledge from Sunday’s practice and some general pointers from photo experts. With the ND filters, it was possible to use the exposure meter to get in the ball park. Above images are selected keepers, the following is a grab bag of goofs and also-rans.

Had a great time with the shoot, and actually I’m quite pleased with the images captured. Now I just need to hang on to that solar filter until the next one!

 

Best regards,

 

Pazlo

April Gallery