Monday, February 24, 2014

Waterfowl and a Nice Sunset

Sunday turned out to be a great day for a late afternoon visit to one of Raleigh's un-named artificial lakes where various waterfowl like to gather. Judging by the cloud development, I had hopes for a nice sunset, and was not disappointed. For as long as there was enough light, I enjoyed shooting any birds that flew within range of a telephoto lens.

This Great Blue Heron has found something handy for nest building.

Coming in for a landing.

High flying trio.

Duck fight!

This chase went right past two uninterested bystanders (by-floaters?) who didn't even move in response.

Duck display:

This heron posed so beautifully, I was enchanted.

As the sun neared the horizon, I set up a composition and watched for flyovers.

Here's the boardwalk that made it easy to pick a good location over the water.

The slow shutter in this next shot blurred the birds almost beyond recognition, but they fit so nicely with the windblown clouds that I'm pleased with the image.

Only a few ducks got between me and the sun. I used the reflected light to form these next two shots.

I did a series of exposures that are identical in composition, just watching the subtle changes in the sky and catching some birds at interesting points within it.

No birds in this one, just a moment of brilliant color.

As the broader bands of color faded, I used a moderate telephoto to isolate the part of the sky that was still painted. Final shot, final light, scramble for the car feeling warm and happy!

[telephoto bird shots: EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II + Extender 2X II
wide angle water and landscapes: TS-E 17mm f/4 L
final sunset shot: EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS]


Friday, February 21, 2014

Flowers that bloom in winter...

Here we are still a month away from the spring equinox, just a week and a few days after a snow and ice storm, and suddenly the temperature in Raleigh soared into shirtsleeve range. This morning it rained, then it cleared in the course of the afternoon. Maybe the flowers could be considered "confused" or maybe they're just usefully taking advantage of the "warm snap" (can I say that, or is the phrase limited to cold snaps?), but in any case, some of them opened and bloomed today. I didn't see any pollinating insects, but who knows what I may have missed.

Here are some Hellebores that displayed a lot of color after the rain.

[Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro @f/11]


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Moonrise over the Neuse at New Bern

Sometimes we have to improvise when we don't have with us the ideal equipment for a photo op. Traveling to New Bern, NC, I packed the most compact high quality camera and lens combo that I could. The Canon 40mm "pancake" lens hardly projects forward of a DSLR body (5D Mk II in this case), and is very high optical quality, but the focal length is fixed and there is no image stabilizer. Not having a tripod, I simply balanced the camera on a post for this 4 second exposure of the newly risen moon over the mouth of the Neuse  River.

[EF 40mm f/2.8, 4 sec. @ f/8, ISO 800]


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rusty Wheel - entropy vs biosphere

The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but the wheel that's way beyond squeaking and is coated with rust may be examined by photographers obsessed with fascinated by patterns of decay. Of course the oxygen that combines with the iron to form rust exists in its current concentration in our atmosphere (about 21%) thanks to cyanobacteria and plants. What makes animal life possible also assures us of copious quantities of rust. Entropy versus the biosphere!

[EF 35mm f/2 IS]


Monday, February 17, 2014

New [to me] section of Raleigh Greenway

I like walking Raleigh's Greenway system. It's not quite like being out in undeveloped countryside, but you can find a sense of calm just a short way from the noise of the city. This view from a raised wooden walkway gave a bird's eye view of a swampy area and another section of boardwalk.

There are tree stumps that were apparently left (possibly as shelter for fish?) when this artificial lake was created, and some of them have re-sprouted. This reborn tree seems to be doing pretty well - it is winter after all.

A gull put on a nice display. There were some Bufflehead about the lake, but they stayed on the far side, and I couldn't get any worthwhile photos. Next time, or at any rate I'll keep trying.

While I was theoretically out hunting for wildlife, I try not to miss or ignore other kinds of opportunities to create interesting photos. The Greenway goes right under a railroad trestle, and as you'll see, I did a little exploring of its features.

[lenses used were EF24mm/3.5 TS-E II, EF40mm/2.8, EF100-400mm/4.5-5.6 L]


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Makin' Tracks

Snow + asphalt + various types of vehicle tires.

[Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 "pancake" lens @ f/8]


Friday, February 14, 2014

Background in search of a subject?

This is another shot from my photo walk through the neighborhood park yesterday. I felt I had to try to make something interesting out of the beautiful, lacy, frosted branches, but could not find a primary focus, a subject for a composition. What I ended up doing was attempting to balance the areas of white, orange, green and brown so that the picture could be "about" nothing more than planes of color and texture. Yesterday I wasn't sure if I succeeded, so I didn't even post the shot. Now here it is for public criticism. Have at it folks! Thanks for looking.

[EF 70-200mm f/4L IS @ 192mm, f/8, 1/40 sec ISO 320, hand-held]


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Raleigh's second snow and ice storm of this year

Yesterday's snowstorm caused traffic tie ups in Raleigh severe enough to make national news. My usually 15-20 minute commute home took 5 hours…oh well, so much for hopes of photographing an idyllic landscape covered in pristine snow! I was hungry and tired, and the light was almost gone.

Fortunately for me, I was free to go out for a walk this morning, and although a combination of sleet and rain was falling steadily, it was fun to wander with a camera. Also fortunate is that the camera and lens are pretty solidly weather sealed (though not truly "waterproof" by any means).

I was following a little creek that runs through our neighborhood park. It flows into Crabtree Creek, which I've pictured here a few times.

Most of what caught my eye today was detail, rather than a large, sweeping landscape. That's mostly because there isn't much of a grand landscape where I was.

 I think this fallen leaf was caught and imprisoned in a jail of ice twigs.

Even a drainage conduit looks nicer in icy weather.

I found some leaves embedded in packed snow.

On my way home, I spotted some kids having fun, and Max the dog seemed to be as excited as anyone could be!

[All photos, Canon 1DX and EF 70-200/4 L IS]


Monday, February 10, 2014

Birds in Flight

A few days ago I decided to try my hand at photographing birds in flight. Shelley Lake in Raleigh has an apparently permanent complement of ducks (no doubt because people feed them, though they probably shouldn't). However, the ducks spend almost all of their time in the water. I found that there were quite a few sea gulls around. They have steadily moved inland, allegedly finding sustenance in the trash around restaurants. I've certainly seen a lot of gulls in parking lots where bits of fish and bread are dropped by careless humans. Too bad the birds don't clean up the paper waste.

Anyway, I parked myself near the shore, and was eventually rewarded with flybys. One of the first shots that I liked was a rear view. It's not typically what one would hope for, but even with the bird's head hidden I like the forms and colors.

Momentary distraction - dog being walked by a couple, contrasts of color and tone.

Hunting for fish, but I didn't see a catch.

Looks ready to grab something as soon as it lands, but it just settled in the water and closed its beak.

Soaring overhead. They move fast, this is going to take some practice!

This looked like a surprise air attack. A few of them landed, but they all took off again a moment later and flew to a different part of the lake.

Reconnaissance angle.

Posed on a post, showing off an amazing blue eye.

Like sitting ducks? Well, they don't exactly sit there, they keep cruising in and out of the patches of light near a bridge.

One last forlorn creature, in what I thought looked like an uninviting environment (but really was pretty mild).

[All photos EF 300/2.8L IS II + Extender 2X III, yielding 600mm f/5.6]