Saturday, December 22, 2012

Favorites Images From 2012

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The year 2012 is coming to an end and 2013 is getting ready to move in; since I will be out of town for the week between Christmas and New Years, I figured I would put together a collection of my favorite images from 2012 before things get crazy here with last minute Christmas tasks and packing. So here we go! The first image of the Burrowing Owl was without a doubt my favorite encounter with a bird this year. This BO made it's home along a country road outside of Dallas for about 1 month back in January and was very cooperative toward photographers. This was my first time to ever see this owl and while I only was able to photograph it on two occasions, none in ideal light, it was still the highlight of my year and I am so thrilled that I was able to see and photograph it! The second image of the Green-winged Teal is hardly an outstanding image, but my duck portfolio was something that I tried to work on this year and this image was one of my first and simply for that reason it made it to my list of favorite images of the year. Going into 2012 I made it a goal to get good images of the male Painted Bunting, a bird that had alluded me for a couple of years, and I was excited when a photographer told me of a spot where you could get images of them at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and it was there that I took these two images. The last image is my favorite photo that I have taken of an American Goldfinch to date. I photographed it in my backyard not long before the finches started their migration back up north. I always enjoy it when these little birds descend upon my backyard for some food every year, but sadly this year I have seen fewer than 5 at my feeders. So anyway, there they are, my 5 favorite images of 2012. I hope you all enjoy them. I already have some plans and goals set for 2013 and I cannot wait to get started on them. Thanks to all of the people out there who have been reading my blog this year and to the ones who take the time to comment, I really appreciate it! 

Merry Christmas!

click images to view larger size.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great Blue Heron

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I photographed this GBH at the same suburban park as the ducks in my previous post. It was a very cooperative individual and allowed for a close approach. It was very late afternoon and the light was really nice! I am hoping to go back there again this week and try for some of the other duck species. 

Thanks for looking!

click images to view larger size.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Some Ducks

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I was at a large city park yesterday afternoon that had a good size pond with a few ducks like Gadwall, Wigeons and Pied-billed Grebes spending the winter there. What I like about city parks is that the ducks are usually highly approachable (except the grebes) and while it's hard to find some of the more interesting species at such places, you are able to get great images of what's present and it makes for some fun photography and is a great way to beef up the portfolio! I didn't get to spend a lot of time there, so I am hoping to go back next week and try for the wigeons and grebes. I will post an image or two of the highly cooperative Great Blue Heron in the next few days, so stay tuned!

click images to view larger size.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lesser Scaup in Flight

1/2000 | f/5.6 | ISO 400 | Fill Flash

It has been almost one month since my last post on the blog, my apologies for the lack of updates! I have not been out in the field much over the past month, just too little time. The wintering ducks have arrived as well as the sparrows and Goldfinches. I have not had any Goldfinches in my yard this winter, except for one straggler this week, due to the very warm weather we have been experiencing here in North Texas there is an abundance of natural food available. We are finally expecting some cold weather next week and I am hoping for a freeze so that they will come to my yard where I have plenty of thistle feeders set up! I do hope to spend more time out next week at some of my favorite spots, I have been very restless to do some photography. I am happy to say that I have upgraded my workstation from a slow Dell to a much more powerful HP machine which is fantastic so far. I am now just trying to decide on what IPS monitor to buy and I will be set for all of my photo and video projects. Anyway, here is a photo from this afternoon of a Lesser Scaup photographed at a series of small ponds that are sandwiched between two fairly busy one way streets. It was a new location for me that I had heard a lot about, where you can find dozens of Hooded Mergansers along with Scaups, Gadwall, Teal, Shovelers, and a couple of Canvasbacks. I went hoping to photograph the hoodies and canvasbacks, but they were very skittish and would take flight to the next pond whenever a jogger or someone walking would go by, so no good photos of them today. The light is not the best with this image, it was cloudy right before I got there, but naturally the sun came out and I had to use my flash to try and balance it out. While I didn't do the best job on this image exposure wise, this is actually my first good flight image ever, thanks to my recently acquired Canon 400 5.6 lens.

Hopefully I will get out more next week and have some new images to share with you all.

click image to view larger size.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Indigo Bunting

1/200 | f/8 | ISO 640 | Fill Flash

I will take a break from the Acadia series and go back to one from earlier this year. I photographed this Indigo Bunting at the Fort Worth Nature Center along the marsh boardwalk back in April. At the time when I captured it, I did not like the leaves on the left side, which were also very blown out, and the IQ was not the best, so I gave it a go in Photoshop and attempted to remove the leaves on the left and leave the ones on the bottom, I never got the look I wanted and gave it up. So yesterday, 7 months later, I found it while going through my files and decided to try once again to edit it. This time around, I found myself liking the leaves on the left and had to simply tone them down with a layer mask. Also, I applied some Topaz DeNoise to the background only and selectively sharpened the bird. So while the IQ is still not really high, I think this image turned out pretty well on the second go around. And I now have a decent image of one of my favorite birds and a highly elusive one every year. I am really glad that I never deleted this image back in April! 

Hope you like it.

click image to view larger size.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Acadia Close Up

6 seconds | f/11 | ISO 100 | polarizing filter

While landscape photography is not something that I am very good at, mostly because I do not have the oppurtunity to practice it since I live in a large city, I really enjoy viewing others' landscape images and am overall a big fan of that side of photography. I was inspired while in Acadia NP to try my hand at it once again and once again I failed pretty miserably. Happily though, I was able to get one or two decent images of what I call "close up landscapes", which are detailed images of close up scenes within a landscape. It is a form of landscape photography that I find fun, especially since I am so bad at the grand landscape scenes. With this image I really like the rock and the red leaf contrasted next to the blue'ish water.  

I hope that everyone likes this image as well.

click image to view larger size.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Double-crested Cormorant

1/250 | f/2.8 | ISO 640

While doing some photography around Jordan Pond on a foggy evening in Acadia National Park a few weeks ago, I noticed this Double-crested Cormorant resting on a rock about 10 feet from the boat launch. Once again I did not have my 400 5.6 lens with me (a hard lesson was learned on this trip), so I was confined to the reach of the 70-200 f/2.8 for a bird lens. Even though the bird was easily approachable, I went with a wider, bird small in frame look here which I always like. I spent about 20 minutes waiting for it to look up and stretch or do something interesting, but it never did. I really like the peaceful scene here though with the fog and the bird sleeping. 

Thanks for looking.

click on image to view larger size.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Female Mallard in Fall Colors

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Here is another image from my 7 days in Acadia National Park last week. This one of a female Mallard (exciting bird, right?) swimming in some orange tinted water provided by the surrounding trees at a pond in Northeast Harbor. I had to deal with some tricky lighting as the sun was just coming up and had hit parts of the water, but not the duck. Photographed with the 7D and 400 5.6 lens. I ran some DeNoise on the image and sharpened the bird only.

Stay tuned for more from Acadia NP! 

click image to view larger size.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Female Common Merganser

1/2500 | f/2.8 | ISO 100

I just returned from a fantastic 10 day trip to the East Coast with my family, where we spent 7 days hiking and exploring Acadia National Park. While I was hoping to do more photography than I actually did, I still came away with a few images which I will share in the next few posts. While in Acadia, I concentrated mainly on detailed landscape images as we were a bit early to catch the peak color. On one of our hikes around Eagle Lake, I found this female Common Merganser chilling out on a large rock about 5 yards off shore. I didn't have my new 400 5.6 lens with me or my flash, so I had to make due with the less than ideal light and lack of reach and grabbed the Canon Rebel T2i which had a 70-200 f/2.8 mounted on it and crept as close as I could and thankfully I had just enough reach to get some decent images. Stay tuned for more images from Acadia!

click image to view larger size.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some Success With A Hummingbird

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Yesterday morning I spent some time, as I had hoped, photographing the hummingbirds that are in my yard right now. A month or so ago, I attached this lichen covered stick to the top of the feeder pole hoping that the hummingbirds would see it as a good place to stand watch over the feeder as they rested. Sure enough this female Ruby-throated has been coming to my garden for a few weeks now and I think claimed it as her own! She will stand guard on this stick and chase away any other hummingbirds that come along. I am hoping that the male will show up tomorrow morning as I really want some images of him. I will be working to get some good landing shots also as the one I posted here is the best one I was able to get yesterday. So stay tuned for more, I hope you like these images!

Both images were taken with a tripod mounted Canon 7D and 400 f/5.6 lens. 
Minor adjustments and Topaz DeNoise applied to background only on both images.
click images to view larger size.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Long Time No Post - Great Egret

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It has been a very long time since my last post here, it seems like Summer is always keeping me away from photography. The Summer months are always busy leaving me little time to go out in search of new or familiar subjects to photograph and whenever I did find myself with a free day or afternoon, the 100 plus degree weather would keep me from wanting to spend any time outdoors. Thankfully the Summer is over, September is here and surprisingly the weather in Texas has already cooled off significantly and an upcoming family vacation to Acadia National Park has me very excited about the Fall season. Here is a image that is not unique or original by far, but it is basically the first decent image I have captured since about June. Since then, I have switched from my Canon 100-400 lens to using a Canon 400 5.6 lens. I am excited to be using this lens which has much better Auto Focus capabilities than my 100-400 (though I already miss having IS) and am looking forward to putting it to the test this fall. Hummingbird migration is in full swing now and I have 2 female Ruby-throats and one male visiting my yard right now, previously I had a male and female Black-chinned as well, but they seem to have moved on. The hummingbirds have been very uncooperative thus far, but I am going to try them again tomorrow morning. 
Wish me luck and I promise that I will try to update this blog more often!

click image to view larger size.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

White-winged Dove : Juvenile

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Here is another image of a White-winged Dove taken from the backyard several weeks ago. I believe this is a juvenile and there were two of them feeding at the same time as two adults. This was a setup with the perch attached to a tripod above a ground feeder tray. Photographed under overcast conditions. I still have not had any time to get new photographs, I have been very busy with work and family visiting. Hopefully I can brave the 100+ degree heat get out again soon.

click image to view larger size.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Painted Bunting Again

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Since I haven't had any time for photography lately due to family in town for the past 2 weeks, I thought I would post another image of the Painted Bunting photographed earlier this month. Photographed under cloudy skies, so fill flash was used on this image. 

click image to view larger size.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Some Backyard Regulars

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Here are some shots from my backyard of a couple common visitors that come to my feeders daily. It was raining most of the day yesterday, which I always love for photography, so I set up this perch above a ground feeder filled with seed and peanuts and quickly had 2 Blue Jays come followed by several White-winged Dove, who loved to perch above the feeder before dropping down. Both photos were taken with the tripod mounted Canon 7D and 100-400 lens. I have a specific set up in mind for the doves that I will try to work on this weekend. I love doing backyard set ups!

Click on images to view larger size.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another Painted Bunting

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Another image from the fantastic outing I had photographing this beautiful bird last week. I am hoping to get out again sometime this week and work on the Indigo Buntings (the are so tough to photograph!) and maybe one or two more photos of the Painted that I have in mind, so stay tuned!

click image to view larger size. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Painted Bunting

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Success at last! After several unsuccessful attempts in the last couple of weeks to photograph Indigo and Painted buntings at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, I finally got some images I am happy with from this morning's shoot of a very cooperative male painted. I have to give credit to another photographer that my mom and I met on Tuesday at the refuge who pointed us to this spot. It is just fantastic and filled with both species of bunting as well as other birds. Although the Indigo's are still alluding me, I hold out a lot of hope of getting some shots soon from this spot. Photographed under overcast light from a storm that passed through early this morning. The soft light really helped to bring out the vibrant colors of this bird. Both images were taken with a tripod mounted Canon 7D and 100-400mm lens.

click images to view larger size.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Great Egret

1/500 | f/8 | ISO 160

Nothing special here, just a quick shot of a Great Egret fishing at the lake close to my home in evening light. Taken this past Tuesday, I was trying to photograph some sparrows and was having terrible luck, this guy was kind enough to make sure I didn't go home empty handed!

Click image to view larger size.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scissor-Tail Flycatcher in Habitat

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Here is a image from Wednesday taken at the reservoir close to my home. I was trying to approach 2 Great Egrets that were fishing in the shallows of the lake by crouching low and slowly moving through the reeds and grass when this scissor-tail landed close by. I was able to get a couple of shots before it went off in pursuit of a insect. I really liked how this one turned out with the sense of habitat and loose comp.

click image to view larger size.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prothonotary Warbler

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On Monday, my mom and I went to the Fort Worth Nature Center again to check and see if the Prothonotary Warbler and Indigo Buntings had arrived yet and to our delight they had! We heard both species calling from the parking lot at the boardwalk and it wasn't long before we saw both as we looked around the marsh. The warbler was cooperative posing for me on the railing of the boardwalk about 5 feet away from me and I got one decent image of the indigo bunting as well. We were short on time before the refuge closed, so we intend to go back sometime within the week when we have more time and I am hoping to get some better images of both birds. Both of these images were taken with the camera resting on the railing of the boardwalk under a cloudy sky.

click images to view larger size.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eastern Phoebe

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This Eastern Phoebe was photographed last Thursday at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. During the late spring and summer months the marsh boardwalk is a great spot to photograph these guys as well as Prothonotary Warbler. I am planning to go back to the refuge on Monday in hopes of finding that the Painted and/or Indigo buntings have arrived, so stay tuned! 

Click on image to view larger size.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Prairie Dogs

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1/640 | f/8 | ISO 500 | Fill Flash

It has been nearly 2 months since my last post and a very busy 2 months it was!
I have had little to no time for photography in the past 6 weeks or so and it was so nice to have the chance to get out twice this week. On Monday I visited the reservoir close to my home, but came away from there empty handed after spending most of my time trying to stalk a pair of Greater Yellowlegs to no avail. So on Thursday I went to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and spent some time trying to photograph some Spotted Towhee's but they would never come out of their hiding places among leaves and bushes. After coming up short with the Towhee's, I went over to the marsh boardwalk and there I came across two fairly cooperative Eastern Phoebe's of whom I got some decent photos of which I will share later. At the prairie dog town I saw a mother with three of her pups on a mound within photographing range and took a few photos of them and some of the other prairie dogs that were scampering around too. The weather was overcast and windy, not ideal shooting conditions, but it was just great to be out taking photos again and I am hoping that I can get out even more in the coming weeks as spring migration progresses.

click images to view larger size.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

American Goldfinch III

1/400 | f/8 | ISO 640 | Fill Flash

How about another goldfinch image? I took this one on this rainy morning using a different perch which I set up earlier this week. I think this is my favorite goldfinch image I have taken so far. I am still trying to get a shot with two birds on the same perch, but it just hasn't happened yet. Doing set-ups is pretty fun and I have some new ideas I want to try. If anyone here wants to get into set-up photography, I highly recommend Alan Murphy's "Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography", available here. It is very helpful and really got me inspired while reading it.

Click image to view larger size.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

American Goldfinch II

1/200 | f/8 | ISO 640 | Fill Flash

Here is a image I got yesterday, it was pretty chilly and overcast outside, but there were a lot of goldfinches at the feeders begging to be photographed. So I found and set up a new perch, but only managed to get one image that I liked. I am hoping that they will stay around for just a little while longer because I have a few other perch ideas I would like to try.
For now, I hope everyone likes this one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

American Goldfinch

1/500 | f/8 | ISO 640 | Fill Flash

I shall take a step back and give everyone a break from the Burrowing Owl images for now. Here is a shot taken on Wednesday of a American Goldfinch from my backyard. I have three goldfinch feeders in my yard to support the 30+ finches I have been seeing this winter and next to one of them I have been placing some perches for them to use. I still have not found a perch that I really like, but am still happy with this image anyway. The skies were overcast, which seems to be happening to me often these days! You can see in the image that the feathers on the finch are beginning to turn more yellow in preparation for their departure north.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Burrowing Owl III

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1/100 | f/8 | ISO 640 | Fill Flash

Yep, more of the burrowing owl! Went back to see it on Monday and was glad to find that it is doing well and survived the heavy rains we had last week. I went hoping that I would get some great evening light, but got heavy cloud cover instead. I took a few more images, but am still looking for some in better light and new settings or poses. I will hopefully get to go back again next week, until then here are two from Monday.

Click images to view larger size.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Burrowing Owl II

Some more images of the burrowing owl from Dallas, had such a great time photographing it! I hope to go back to see it this coming week and get some more images in some better light.

I do not have the shooting techs right now, having issues with my computer, but I would guess that they are close to the same as the images in my last post.

Click images to view larger size.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Burrowing Owl

1/800 | f/8 | ISO 200 | Fill Flash

1/800 | f/8 | ISO 200 | Fill Flash

On Monday morning my mom and I had the opportuinity to see the local celebrity Burrowing Owl. This owl has to be the most sought after and photographed bird in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. A rarity for this area, burrowing owls in Texas are usually only found in the Panhandle and never this far north (that I know of anyway). So when this individual was spotted along a country road about 10 miles outside of Downtown Dallas during the Christmas Bird Count every birder and bird photographer within 100 miles has been to see it since. It is a very cooperative bird, but has made it's home in a dangerous location. It sits literally inches off the road next to a hole in the ground, presumed to have already existed before the owls arrival, and although there is very minimal car traffic, numerous tractor trailer trucks whiz by every few minutes or so and the owl just sits there and watches barely flinching. It is not injured as it has been observed flying around, I guess it just likes living life on the edge, but I hope that it does not get hurt and will stay around for a while. Anyway, my mom and myself spent over one hour watching it and getting some images. It was a fantastic experience being so close to this bird and I hope that I will get the chance to go back for more images soon. The light was late morning sun diffused by some light cloud cover, so not the best, I used some fill flash to help out with any shadows and am pretty pleased with what I got. Here are a few images, I will post some more later on, so stay tuned.

Click images to view larger size.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Northern Harrier

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1/3200 | f/8 | ISO 400

Just got back from a short trip to Connecticut (not for photography unfortunately) so, sorry for not posting anything lately. Here are a couple of images that I took of the Northern Harrier that I encountered when photographing the ducks seen in my last couple of posts. Nothing special, but I was very glad to add them to my portfolio anyway since I had nothing of this bird yet. I hope to get out soon for new images, for now though, I hope everyone enjoys these.

Click images to view larger size.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some Gadwall's

Some more images from Monday afternoon's fantastic shoot. The most cooperative ducks were the Gadwall and I got some shots that I am very happy with of both the male and female.

1/500 | f/8 | ISO 200

1/800 | f/8 | ISO 200

1/800 | f/8 | ISO 200

Of all the shots to happen on, my flash did not fire on this one leaving the female's head in a shadow. I managed to bring out a bit of detail though and make it presentable, the interaction is just too good not to share!

click images to view larger size!

*Note: having issues with Blogger, when trying to view the last image larger you may get the second image instead. Not sure what is going on, I will try and fix it soon. Sorry!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Green-Winged Teal

Happy New Year Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I had not been out shooting for a while due to the holidays, but was finally able to go on Monday to a lake close to my home and photograph some of the wintering resident ducks. I arrived at my previously scouted waiting spot among some reeds and got set up, threw some seed into the water in hopes of enticing some ducks that way, and then proceeded to cover myself in camo netting. I had not been waiting more than 10 minutes when I spotted a northern harrier on the other side of the lake (which is pretty small btw) that was making its way closer to where I was, I changed some settings in preparation and locked focus onto the bird. It was coming closer and closer and I began firing off, then it turned and started coming head on towards me about 10 feet off the ground. My 40D and 100-400 are a terrible combination for birds in flight as the focusing really stinks, but I got a few okay images as it flew right over my head. A really cool experience to start off the afternoon for sure! After that I waited for close to an hour before a flock of gadwall swam over and proceeded to get extremely close. They were soon joined by some northern pintail, green-winged teal, american coot and a female bufflehead. I got some decent images of all the mentioned species, and have yet to edit them all. I had almost one hour of good light before the sun set and the lake was covered in shadow. It was a exceptional and much better than expected afternoon and I was thrilled to get some nice images. Hoping for more, I will be heading back out this afternoon, this time with the 7D just in case of another harrier encounter. Here is one of the images I have processed of the green-winged teal, hope you like it.

Image Data:
1/500 | f/8 | ISO 200 | Fill Flash | Tripod
click image to view larger size.