Archive for the 'animals' Category


2/14/2011: Snowy! Happy Valentines Day

Okay, so this shot of a Snowy Egret taken at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has nothing at all to do with Valentines Day…except maybe the very beginnings of breeding plumage in the bird…but that is a real stretch. Still, Happy Valentines Day!

This was taken at the same pool by the restrooms on Blackpoint drive that yielded the Anhinga, the Green Heron, and the Alligator. Not bad for a pool only about seven car lengths long and maybe one and half wide.

As always, the trick with a Snowy Egret in the sun is to get the exposure right. I have played with Exposure Compensation often enough to know that, on a shot like this, where the bird fills a good deal of the frame, you are often better off just letting the auto exposure do it’s thing. A touch of Recovery in Lightroom might be needed for the highlights, but then at least the background does not go way dark.

I worked this bird for 15 minutes or so, as it moved around the pool. Here is alternative shot framed against the water, and cropped from the top for composition.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario Eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope. About 1200mm equivalent field of view. 1) 1/600 @ ISO 125. 2) 1/800th @ ISO 200. Programmed auto.

Processed for clarity and sharpness in Lightroom.


2/11/2011: Big and easy, GBH

A fellow wildlife photographer posted a Great Blue Heron on his Facebook page yesterday with a comment to the effect that “sometimes you have to take the easy shots.”

Always! Always you have to take the easy shots. I don’t believe in a vindictive fate, like “if you don’t shoot the easy shots when they are offered, then you won’t get anymore!”, but I do believe in embracing the gift when it is right there in front of you. It would be ungrateful to ignore such generosity.

So here is yet another Great Blue Heron shot. (And GBHs do figure in a surprising number of the gift shots…go figure 🙂 …big and easy bird that it is…always seemingly posing.) In this shot, of course, it is the light and reflections on the water behind the bird, and the play of light across the bird, the molding, and the light caught in the eye, as much as the bird itself, that holds interest…that makes the shot.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56 Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of about a 2800mm lens, 1/200th @ ISO 125, effective aperture of f7.5.

Processed for clarity and sharpness in Lightroom.

And the more pulled back, contextual bonus shot at something closer to 1000mm equivalent field of view.


2/10/2011: Still-life with malice

I know…it is totally unreasonable to attribute malice to the alligator simply because of the way he looks (and sometimes acts)…especially this big fellow (girl) peacefully sunning on a mangrove bank at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, but, honestly, how can we help ourselves? And surely the still-life part is obvious, or would be if you have ever seen an alligator sunning.

Canon SD4000IS at about 2000mm equivalent field of view, 1/320th @ ISO 125, effective aperture of f11. Programmed Auto. Processed in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.

This is the context shot, taken with the my regular non-digiscoping camera at about 40mm equivalent from the same spot. From this angle you can see that this is only a medium sized gator, still with a lot of years of growing to do.

And finally the almost abstract close up view at something close to 4000mm equivalent field of view, with an emphasis on the eye.


2/9/2011: Wood Storks in repose

With my recent postings of digiscoped pics from my trip to Florida, Wings on Wednesday is not much of a stretch from me this week 🙂

I had never seen this behavior before, and when I came on these two Wood Storks at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge taking their ease on a mudflat, I could not resist a quick shot with the Canon SX20is out the window of the car. I still don’t know if it is common behavior. A quick run at google this morning did not answer the question. If anyone knows more about this, I would like to hear.

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent field of view, f5.7 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 80. Programmed auto.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom.


2/8/2011: Green Heron in a Bush, Merritt Island NWR

This Green Heron is pretty regular (in my limited experience) in the pool by the restrooms at Merritt Island NWR. I have photographed a Green Heron in this spot several times, several different years…so either it, or another of its kind, frequents the pool and the water channel behind the pool on a predictable bases. I look for it now.

This bird was tucked back under a bush about 40 feet down the water channel from the road. I caught it as I turned the corner, only because I was looking for it, and parked and walked back. I really like the play of light under the mangrove foliage, especially behind the bird, and the way the sun catches in the yellow eye.

Canon SD4000IS at about 1800mm equivalent field of view, 1/400th @ ISO 160. Effective aperture, f5.

Processed lightly in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.

And here is the shot zoomed in a bit, to about 4500mm equivalent field of view.


2/7/2011: Great Egret, intimate

Sometimes, at Merritt Island and other prime Florida locations, the birds are so close and so cooperative that, with a digiscoping rig, it is possible to achieve really intimate portraits. For this shot I used the zoom on both camera and scope to frame the bird’s head against the dark background, using –2/3EV exposure compensation to hold detail in the plumage and send the background really dark. The effect is striking. Of course the curves are all the Egret’s doing 🙂

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario Eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for something in the 3000mm range, 1/320th @ ISO 160. Programmed auto with EV.

Processed for clarity and sharpness in Lighroom.


2/4/2011: Anhinga, round two, Merritt Is NWR

The little pond by the restrooms at the head of the Cruikshank trail off Black Point Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is always worth a good long look. I almost always find something to photograph there…over the years: lizards, alligators, Green Heron, Snowy Egret, or, in this case, an elegant Anhinga in the final stages of his sun bath. There are very few birds that have the feather texture of the Anhinga, and these shots show it off to good advantage.

This bird was so close that to get anything like a full body shot, I had to zoom all the way out so the bird just filled a round circle in the middle of a black lcd screen…and then crop. And then I could not fit the full tail in.

And these are full frame views, showing off the stuff the neck gets up to and the feathering on the head…


All with the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece of the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. Working at the 600 to 1200mm field of view range. Processed very lightly in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.