Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category


Saturday, December 27th, 2014


I was all excited the other day because it was sunny and I was finally going to get to go out and shoot. Then the fog rolled in.  So I decided to just do a camera walk around the neighborhood and see what I could do with the fog. The first thing I saw where these birds on the power lines so I just went to do a grab shot and one of the birds started to fly away. Well, there is a school of thought that photography is about capturing a moment in time and this image surely does that.  Since it was already close to monotone I went ahead and took it to full black and white by removing the saturation.  I also cropped it to put the flying bird at the power point and eliminate some other birds.  I like the simple graphic look of this image. I like that the two birds on the wires are facing in opposite directions and I like the diagonal lines. But it is the bird in flight that makes the image for me.

Wood Duck

Saturday, December 13th, 2014


I have wanted to see and photograph these beautiful birds ever since I knew of their existence. So, when I read that wood ducks like to hang out in Lithia Park in the winter I could hardly believe it. But I packed up the new camera anyway and headed right down there. I got out of the car to do a scouting trip and almost immediately did a 180 back to the car to get the camera because they were there.  I shot a number of frames of ducks on shore before they got spooked and headed into the water. But that was OK because I really wanted a water shot. Well, easier said than done. The cloudy winter light was flat and in order to get a shutter speed fast enough to stop the motion of the swimming ducks (those puppies move fast!) I had to crank the ISO up to 1600. This one was a little noisy and dull out of the camera. So, I applied some noise reduction and clarity in Lightroom. Then took it into Nik CEP for detail and brightening.  It still seemed a little off and I almost rejected this one for an onshore shot as image of the week.  But then I decided to try one more thing and took it into Photoshop to add a little saturation and that did the trick.  I’m still thinking to go back with the long lens and “big girl” camera as soon as we get a break in the weather.

Pine Siskins

Saturday, December 6th, 2014


I have been threatening for some time to trade my Canon EOS-M in for a Fujifilm XT-1.  Well Black Friday finally pushed me over the edge and it arrived on Thursday complete with 18-135mm lens (that’s 27 to 206 in 35mm terms). I decided to go for the single zoom lens because the whole point is to lighten the load. But I did also get a 60mm macro lens to support my macro habit. So, I found these birds at a local park and the lens did pretty well at 135 though I am now thinking of going back with the “big girl camera” and long lens to do some more intimate portraits of these little guys.

My overall impressions of the XT-1 after two days of shooting?  Love it. It has almost all the capabilities of my Canon 7D at about half the weight.  My one big frustration at this point is the awkwardness of selective focus which requires a function key to operate and does not stay active very long.  I have also had difficulty getting the camera to focus on small subjects, like birds for example, and have to switch into manual focus all too often.  At least that is not too difficult to accomplish.

I love the many dials on the XT-1 which allow for quick adjustments, unlike the EOS-M where everything is electronic.  But there are so many dials and switches on the outside of the camera that the learning curve is a bit steep and I still have some work to do to get to full speed with the camera.

I also bought an Oben Carbon Fiber tripod which folds to about 15″ and weighs about 2 and a half lbs. Ideal for traveling and much nicer for carrying around than the old Manfrotto. It is not sturdy enough for the 7D and long lens but that is OK, I will keep the old one for those rare occasions when I need that.  And the EOS-M? It’s working just fine as an in my purse go everywhere camera.  But I think the XT-1 is going to be my new workhorse.


Day 59 – Bluejay

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014


I’ve been watching these Bluejay’s dance around in my parents yard all summer.  I finally got out the big lens and started chasing them around yesterday.  I think the score was Bluejay’s 10 and Jeanne 1 but I finally got one to hold still long enough to get a pictures.  My research indicates that this is a Western scrub Jay.  Post processing was about as usual. I then added a smart sharpen filter in Photoshop and a layer for burning out the spectral highlights….believe me they were much worse!  I also went back into Nik to add a border in hope to contain the highlights a little.  I think it helped.

Day 45 – Ducks

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


I visited North Mountain Park in Ashland for the first time yesterday.  What a great place for nature photographers.  From the butterfly garden to the wetlands ponds to beautiful Bear Creek there is a lot of variety and a lot of wildlife habitat.  Looking forward to going back with the “big girl” camera.  I did the usual post processing on this one.

Mating Dance

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014





A few years ago I learned that when the Sandhill Cranes leave Bosque del Apache they stop off in Colorado’s San Luis Valley for a few weeks and it is there that they do their mating dance.  The dance is said to renew the bonds with lifetime mates or establish new bonds for younger birds or those whose mates have been lost.  I was determined that this year I would finally make the trek north (which is not much further than the trek to the Bosque from Santa Fe) but after several weeks of unsettled weather I decided the window of opportunity was going to be small and ended up just going for the day this past Sunday.  Though the weather was perfect the birds were hanging out quite a ways from the road.  Even with my 100-400mm zoom at it’s fullest extent it was hard to isolate individual birds as can be seen in the before picture above.  And, although there was a lot of jumping around and wing flapping, by the time I got an image framed and focused the birds would have already settled down. So, out of over 300 exposures that day, this is the only one that I felt captured the dance (notice the crane’s feet are fully off the ground and out of the water).   The after picture is an enlarged outtake from the before.  I’m glad I went but if I go again I think I had better look into renting a 600mm lens!

Bosque del Apache

Saturday, March 1st, 2014


If you are any kind of nature photographer you must know that the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, NM is one of the iconic locations to photograph birds.  Since moving to New Mexico I have made the two hour trek to the Bosque 9 times.  Some years I made it twice, some years I missed due to health or other priorities.  Over the years I have made some great photographs and learned a lot about shooting moving targets in near darkness. I thought it was time I put them together in an accessible format.  Last year I learned to make animated slideshows using Photoshop and decided that would be the perfect tool for the job.  If you would like to give it a try check out Colin Smith’s book “Video in Photoshop for Photographers and Designers” published by Peachpit Press.

It took some serious editing but I boiled it down to 30 images which have been given the Ken Burnsian treatment of panning and zooming. I also set it to music which dictated the length at about 4 and a half minutes.  Go to to view.

Bosque sunrise

Saturday, November 16th, 2013


As much as I hate getting up at o’dark early to catch the sunrise I have to say I have never regretted it.  My strategy this week of going to the Bosque del Apache midweek  and early in the season paid off and I was actually able to find tripod space on the Flight Deck. Yes, the birds were a little sparser than in December and January but still plentiful enough for some good shots as well as all the awe inspiring experiences that make the Bosque so special. For once there even seemed to be more birds than photographers.  This shot was taken just after the sun peeked over a bank of clouds in the east and yes the light really was that golden. There was just enough fog to make things interesting.  I did have to brighten it up some using levels in Photoshop and used the lowest level of detail extractor in Nik.  Then to finish I added a light vignette to focus attention on the cranes and their reflections.

Snow Goose

Saturday, November 9th, 2013


It is that time of year when many nature photographer’s thoughts start turning to the Bosque del Apache.  I had hoped to get down there myself this week but was preempted by other priorities. So, instead I started sifting through the pix from my last trip this past January.  This started out as a much wider view with a whole flock of geese and the sky included.  When I zoomed in  to check whether this fellow was sharp my jaw just dropped.  Not only was he sharp the contrast of the golden vegetation and the blue water begged for an enlargement. And the painterly quality of the trees….well in this case a picture is worth a thousand words.  Although I did ad some saturation the golden quality can be attributed to the time of day, just before sunset.  Can’t wait to get back to Bosque.  Maybe this week.  Bird counts as of November 6, Ducks 43,171…Light Geese 7000…Canada Geese 338…Sandhill cranes 2191…Marsh and water birds 42…Hawks and owls 34.  Should be able to find something to shoot.