Archive for the 'close up' Category


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.


2/6/2011: Rosehip in the Snow, Parson’s Beach

Happy Sunday! A play of textures, set off by the contrast between the brilliant red of the rosehip and the white of the snow. I also like the way the red of the rosehip has absorbed enough heat from the sun to melt the snow around it and create a little frame for itself. The thorns, to my eye, give it an extra appeal.

For this shot I used the tele-macro on the Canon SX20IS, shooting from a standing position and well back, but still getting the macro effect. 560mm equivalent field of view, f5.7 @ 1/800th @ ISO 80. Snow Mode.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom. Cropped from the left to eliminate a distracting out of focus twig, and from the right slightly to more or less restore “rule of thirds” composition.

This is part of the sequence of grand snowscapes I shot on Friday. You saw one of them yesterday, taken only a few moments before. As part of my photographic discipline I have trained myself to always, in every situation, spend at least some time looking down, looking close, thinking small…even when the grand vista is compelling. There is often something worth my attention right at my feet. No…there is almost always something interesting right at my feet, if I take the time to look. And often, looking close produces an image which opens out with as much contrast and texture and pattern as the full landscape.

Without trying to stretch the metaphor too much, I think there is a spiritual truth there. I would not like to think that, in the grand and thrilling sweep of eternal values that opens to the spiritual eye, I would ever lose the intimate details, the small beauty of what is right at my feet. The poets say the universe is contained in a single grain of sand…or, say I, in a rosehip in the snow.


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.


1/31/2011: Ring-necked Duck, Viera Wetlands

I have trouble remembering that this is not the Ring billed Duck, for somewhat obvious reasons. I have yet to see the neck ring, though I have no doubt it is there. Duck plumage has a will of its own, of course, especially what appears to be “black” most of the time. It can be green or purple, in various shades, depending on the angle of the light…as here on the head and back.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of approximately a 3000mm lens, 1/400th @ ISO 125. Effective aperture of f9. Programmed auto.

And, from the same sequence.


1/30/2011: Limpkin, Viera Wetlands

Happy Sunday!

I can still remember my excitement in seeing my first Limpkin, a wader, strangely unrelated to the herons and egrets that share its habitat. It is the only species in its family, thought to be somewhat related to the rails and cranes, and has a very restricted range…only occurring in Florida, where it feeds on the declining population of Florida Apple Snails. It is listed as a “species of special concern”.

Viera Wetlands is an easy place to see and photograph Limpkins. Several individuals were feeding there the day I visited. This shot was late in the day when the lowering sun brought out the copper in the feathers.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 3000mm lens, 1/500th at ISO 125. Effective aperture of f8. Programmed auto.

Being Sunday, I will express my sense of gratitude to the folks who preserved our National Wildlife Refuges as habitat for the amazing birds of Florida…or, in the case of Viera Wetlands, who created new habit. I know things could be better, and that we could do better as stewards of this creation, but I am always reminded at places like Merritt Island NWR and Viera Wetlands (not to mention Bosque del Apache and Estero Lano Grande and Brigantine) that things could be a lot worse, and would be without the efforts of concerned humans, knowingly or unknowingly fulfilling the task the creator gave them.

One more Limpkin…from earlier in the day.

And the video:


Limpkin, Viera Wetlands, FL

1/29/2011: Green Heron, Viera Wetlands

When I started birding I learned this bird as the Green-backed Heron. Somewhere in there it lost the backed and became just the Green Heron…not even the Little Green Heron, or the Common Green Heron, or the Lessor Green Heron, or the American Green Heron…just the plain Green Heron.  Either way it is a striking bird, and especially so in the kind of close-ups you can get among the duck-weed at Viera Wetlands in Florida. 

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56 Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 3000mm lens. Effective aperture of f8 @ 1/800th @ ISO 125, Programmed auto.

Processed lightly in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.

And this shot, backed off to about 1500mm equivalent.

And here is the video.

Green Heron: Viera Wetlands, FL

1/28/2011: Tricolor, Viera Wetlands

Tricolored Heron is among the most striking of the herons…more colorful by far than a GBH…but much harder to photograph. Unlike a GBH, the Tricolor rarely stands still, sits still, or is otherwise other than in rapid motion. Or so it seems most of the time. This bird was racing up and down the little band of open water next to the dyke at Viera, catching fish as it went. Getting it in frame was a challenge. Keeping it there more-so. Still, gotta try with a bird like this.

Canon SD4000IS behind the eyepiece of the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the field of view of a 1000mm lens, 1/1250th @ ISO 200. Effective aperture of f5 (set by camera). Programmed auto.

Lightly processed in Lighroom for clarity and sharpness.


1/27/2011: Little Blue Heron, Viera Wetlands

I really like the range of colors in the plumage of the “little blue” heron. The purples shading into blues and blue-grays. They show to really good effect in the Florida sun of Viera Wetlands.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 1600mm lens, 1/500th @ ISO 125. Effective aperture of f5.0.

Lightly processed in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.


1/26/2011: GBh, the portrait, Viera Wetlands

One of the clear advantages of Viera Wetlands for photography is the fact that you can get ridiculously close to the birds. So close that your average 600mm lens can fill the frame most of the time, and a digiscoping rig will give you intimate portraits like this one. The birds are used cars on the dyke and pay not the least attention. They will even, most of the time, let you get out and set up your tripod within 50 feet without flushing. Especially Great Blue Herons.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece of the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of something like a 4000mm lens, 1/1250th @ ISO 160, effective aperture f11. Programmed auto.

Processed lightly in Lightroom for Clarity and sharpness.

And one more for varieties sake.


1/25/2011: uncommon Moorehen, Viera Wetlands

The Common Moorehen has been somewhat of a nemesis bird for me, at least for digiscoping. They are abundant at Viera Wetlands and Merritt Island, as well as in the Rio Grande Valley, so I have seen hundreds, if not thousands. I have tried to digiscope them on every trip, but never gotten a keeper. Generally it is an exposure issue. The red of the bill and face shield burns out and the black of the body closes up. I had about given up on Moorhens. Still…you have to try!

And I really like this shot. Not only is the exposure spot on (for which I take no credit…it is auto exposed), but I love the way the water on the back is caught in tiny beads, as well as the glint in the black eye. The glistening green weed adds something to the shot as well, as does the foamy water (the bird was swimming near an intake standpipe which was vigorously  pumping water into the empondment). So, moral of the story…try try again! At least when it comes to Moorehens.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece (near its wide end) on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope for the equivalent field of view of a 800mm lens, f4 @ 1/800th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

Lightly processed in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.