Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pic of the Day

 Snowy Egret, Egretta thula:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm; Saint Augustine, Florida

    This is the same Snowy Egret from the previous post.  The photo was taken in the same location as the sun began to illuminate the background.  Having my beginning in black and white photography I saw the perfect opportunity to convert the color image in to this black and white.  I usually prefer color images of birds, but the white egrets and herons, in my opinion, look perfect in black and white.  To place emphasis on the egret I darkened  the edges of the photo.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/2000 second @ f/9

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pic of the Day

Snowy Egret, Egretta hula:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm;
Saint Augustine, Florida
    I found this handsome fellow the first morning I arrived at the heron rookery in Saint Augustine, Florida.  When I first saw this snowy he was displaying on a lower branch.  I shot dozens and dozens of images, but the he was partially hidden and the full display of its’ beautiful aigrette feathers were veiled.

     Soon after my first round of images, the sun fully lite the egret while leaving the background in shadows.  As the egret continued its display the aigrette feathers glowed against the dark background, but the bird was still on the lower branch.  As I shot a few more frames I kept saying……”move up to the next branch, move up to the next branch,” and all of a sudden the snowy stepped up onto the arching branch and continued to display.  
     Now, fully in the open, I could get the image I was looking for, with the fine feather filaments standing out against the background.   Over the next three days I photographed this egret displaying against various tonal backgrounds, but it is this one with that shows the true beauty of this magnificent behavior.

Nikon D-800, Nikon 500mm f/4, 1/2000 second @ f/8

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pic of the Day

   Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm; Saint Augustine, Florida
    On a recent visit to the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm I was ecstatic to find a nest of young spoonbills within easy reach of my camera.  I have visited the rookery of wild birds many, many times over the last twenty – five years, but this was the first time I had seen such young spoonbills.  I so badly want to get a photo of the adult and chicks, but tree limbs were causing some serious problems.
     The nest was tucked away near the trunk of the tree with just a small opening for a clear shot.  While the chicks were quite active the adult stood over the nest with its head obstructed by an arching tree branch.  After taking a few photos I waited for the adult to move into a position that would make a more pleasing image.  I waited for half an hour or more, but the adult spoonbill never moved.  It simply stood above the nest with the obtrusive branch running right through the bird’s eye.   
     The images that I was getting just wasn’t cutting the mustard.   Then, just as I was about to give up, the adult spoonbill began to move around, and then the chicks became more active.  For a brief moment the adult lowered its head toward the nest and all three of the chicks turned toward the camera.  For a moment everything came together, and it is because of moments like this this that I am a bird photographer.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4 with a 1.4 teleconverter, 1/160 second @ f/8

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pic of the Day

Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentals:  Fort Desoto State Park; Saint Petersburg, Florida

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Eclipse Preparations

    I was supposed to be in Nebraska photographing sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens at this time but my plans have taken a sharp turn.   A month ago I injured my right knee.  Not sure how, but it started hurting March 3.  I though sure it would get better, but it did not.  Last week, right before I was to leave for Nebraska, I went to the doctor and discovered that I have 2 subtle tears in the right knee meniscus, and a sprained ligament.  The doctor says that the pain is most likely because of a sprain of the MCL (a ligament), though the torn meniscus is doing its part.

     Fortunately I am already better, and can move around fairly easily again.  So, I have been using my chicken photography time to prepare for the August 21, total solar eclipse (see my February 19 post at  I have big plans for photographing the eclipse.  One of the problems is the sun will be at an approximately 67ยบ above the horizon.  Most tripod heads will not permit a lens to reach that angle.  For my main camera and lens (a 500mm with 2x teleconverter) I will be using an equatorial mount as a shooting platform.  The equatorial mount will allow the lens to point in any direction.

     The photos shown here is the lens set in a wooden cradle.  I will use a vibration dampener (not completed at this date) between the camera body and base of the cradle for stability to reduce the play between the lens / teleconvert / camera connection.

     The equatorial mount also has a right ascension (RA), and  a declination drives with fine tuning adjustments.  The drive controls should help me keep the sun centered in the lens without having to touch the lens.  A right angle finder is going to be a must have, for photographing this eclipse.  I will be very difficult to see through the viewfinder without one for this eclipse.

     I took the images below today.  They illustrate the size of the sun disk on a full size sensor.  The white box around the image indicates the edge of the full frame (FX) image.  Each image is the complete sensor area.  No cropping was used to make the Sun's image look larger.  The larger solar disks was achieved by using teleconverters, a 1.4X for the second photo below and 2X for the third.

     One thing I discovered today is that I need a lot of practice to insure that all will go well during the total phase of the eclipse.  All details will have to be worked out in advance, for totality last only 2 minutes and 40 seconds where I plan to be.  That's not much time for all the images I hope to take.  Take a look at my February 19, 2017 post, I have a lot of good links there, and 2 photos I took during  1979 total solar eclipse near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

If you have not started preparing for the August 21 eclipse, START NOW!  August 21 will be here before you know it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pic of the Day

Osprey, Pandion haliaetus:  Sanibel Island Causeway; Fort Myers, Florida
    While I was photographing Sanderlings on the Sanibel Island Causeway Osprey were soaring over the water looking for their next meal.  This bird flew close enough for a shot, but I had to hand hold the camera as it was attached to my sandpan camera mount.  Fortunately the shutter speed was fast enough to get a sharp image.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/2500 second @ f/8

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pic of the Day

Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm; 
Saint Augustine, Florida
    The natural rookery at the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm is quite active even though most of the birds have not arrived.  Great Egrets, Woodstorks, and Roseate Spoonbill are building, some have built and have eggs and some already have chicks.  This pair of spoonbills appear to have eggs, as the female was sitting all morning.  This particular nest is in a good place for photography, though it is quite far from the boardwalk.  This image has been cropped to about half of a full frame.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/320 second @ f/8