Monday, May 26, 2014

Come on, birds, fly!

I did a quick morning jaunt to Shelley Lake again, hoping to practice shooting birds in flight. There was much more ground level locomotion than aerobatics. I caught this grackle showing off his buff body on the rail.

There were children feeding the ducks (not a great idea, by the way), resulting in a feeding frenzy.

Even in muddy water, this mallard was a shining beauty.

It can take a lot to get ducks and geese to fly. Here's a Canada goose going for a stroll.

Nothing in the sky, but a cautiously friendly squirrel on the boardwalk.

And suddenly, finally, a pair of mallards took flight!

To make a nice bookend for my stroll, another grackle landed on the railing and looked over the scenery.

[All photos shot with Canon 1DX and 300mm f/2.8 L IS II + Ext 2X III, wide open aperture]


Friday, May 23, 2014

Three views, one flower

There was nice window light this afternoon, so it only took a moment to capture two views of this blooming house plant.The second shot developed into two distinct versions, so here are three impressions of one quick look.

[Canon 5D Mk III, EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro]


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Red flower, blackbird, blue heron, purple and green duck

In a thirty five minute walk about Shelley Lake, I saw a wide variety of color and action.

It was no surprise to see the usual geese wading and swimming around the marshy areas.

It was unexpected on my part when I saw a blackbird in the water. I know I'm just projecting my own feeling about this, but the bird seemed quite upset at the beer can a thoughtless person had left behind.

It acted increasingly agitated, looking crazily like the Sorcerer's Apprentice working a spell to make the trash disappear.

Finally it took off and flew into a tree.

On its vertical perch, it seemed to be spitting water from its beak.

Actually, of course, it was shaking off the excess water from its bath.

Freshly cleaned, something to crow about.

But who is watching from above?

The king of the hill, posing like a statue, or maybe a weathervane.

The bather returned to a spot on the edge of the lake.

When it flew overhead again, I managed to track it and get some shots of the underside of the wings.

As I lowered the camera from tracking the blackbird, a shadow moved rapidly past me. I looked up and saw the underside of a Great Blue Heron just above me. I did the best I could to swing the large lens after it, and got this out of focus series that has an atypical vantage point in my limited experience.

Five ducks practiced well coordinated synchronized swimming:

A handsome mallard flew by as I was leaving.

So that was my brief, concentrated photo walk Tuesday, May 20. It was enough to convince me to make use of small blocks of time that I might have thought insufficient before now.

[All photos shot with 600 mm focal length - no time taken to switch to any other gear!]


Monday, May 19, 2014

Dreary skies, cheerful Canada geese

A dreary day with overcast skies can be nice for photography, so I went bird hunting Sunday. I didn't time it very well; they stayed hidden for awhile. I got a nice look at a Redwing Blackbird on the wing, but couldn't get a shot, and then it kept its head hidden in a tree. So before I did any successful bird shooting, I played with an abstract of water reflections.

I heard the Canada Geese, and suddenly they did one quick fly-over.

A Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) was less shy, but stayed at high altitude.

This turtle on a log seemed to be looking up at the Vulture, but certainly was in no danger from that scavenger.

Crows are fast fliers. I didn't get a shot that really showed its eye, but I like the wing detail in this one.

A bit of tunneling was required to get in and out of the area I visited, probably a result of the very heavy rains we had recently.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Waterfowl at sunrise

A pre-dawn walk is not my natural inclination. When I was young, I think I was semi-nocturnal. Now, however, I know that a lot of wild animals are active early in the day. Combined with oppressively hot daylight hours in North Carolina lately, that was enough incentive for me to wake well before the sun hit the horizon, and hit the trail with a camera.

When I got to the lake, the blue hour was just beginning to show tinges of the pink and gold that I hoped would follow. There were beautiful patches of mist over the water. A few geese and ducks floated around. Here's a shot to set the scene:

As I looked for interesting compositional possibilities, a Great Blue Heron arrived to hunt for fish!

He soon spotted one and caught it.

I hoped he would fly with his catch toward a particularly colorful area, and I was rewarded with this shot! It made my sacrifice of a little sleep very much worthwhile.

Overhead, a Canada Goose caught the rays of the rising sun just right, and parts of its white body were momentarily blood red. A series of shots shows little glints of red appearing here and there, and sometimes none at all, but this one split second capture took the prize. I had my hands full swinging the camera trying to track the bird; the camera saw what I would never have seen without it.

Looking toward the east, I exposed for richness of the sky colors and turned these fliers into silhouettes.

This section of causeway over the lake was colorful too, especially the reflection. I'm sure it's silly, but do you see why I call this photo "not a croc"?

[All photos shot with Canon EF 70-200/2.8 L II IS, all but first and last with Extender 2X III]