Archive for the 'New Jersey' Category


11/2/2010: Yellow-rumped Warbler 2

Late in the day on Saturday, out behind the Hawk Watch platform at Cape May State Park, as I mentioned yesterday, was like walking through an aviary, the birds were so thick and so close. This Yellow-rumped Warbler was perched about 20 feet off the boardwalk, in the full light of the low sun behind me, and a hint of autumn color behind. Irresistible.

I was able to catch several different ”poses” as, despite how it might look in the images, the bird was quite active on the perch. The low sun certainly picked out all the yellow in the bird.

For a digiscoper, or anyone who attempts bird photography, it just does not get any better than this!

Canon SD4000IS behind the eyepiece of the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of about a 1400mm lens on a full frame DSLR. 1/320th @ ISO 160 @ f4.5 (camera limited).

A bit of Recovery in Lightroom for the white breast and the highlights on the branch, Blackpoint just barely right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset. Slight color adjustment to tame the yellow.


11/1/2010: Yellow rumped Warbler

On Friday and Saturday of last week, there were Yellow-rumped Warblers everywhere and anywhere you chose to look in Cape May NJ. Lawns in town were littered with them. Every likely bush along the edge of the meadows was alive with them. They were so thick behind the Hawk Watch platform at Cape May Point, and at the base of the Morning Flight tower at Higgbee Beach, that avoiding collisions as you walked became a challenge. Late in the day Saturday, as they dropped out of the wind, some were so tired that you could walk within 3 feet of them as they perched on the boardwalk rail at Cape May Point. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

Of course that made it an ideal place to practice digiscoping warblers! Especially warblers close in and filling the frame. Over the next few days you will see quite a few YRWR shots here. 🙂

This bird was in the hedge row along the road at the Meadows (Nature Conservancy Cape May Migratory Bird Sanctuary). 

This shot is digiscoped with the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. I was about 20 feet away, and the digiscoping rig gave me the equivalent field of view of a 2500mm lens on a full frame DSLR. 1/200 sec @ ISO 125. F-stop about f7, limited by the scope.

This is the same bird, zoomed back to about the equivalent field of 1600mm lens. This one is at ISO 400 and 1/1000th of a second @ f5.0 (camera limited). Notice the image quality the Canon SD4000IS is capable of at ISO 400!

So, that is the first helping of Cape May’s Yellow-rumps.


10/31/2010: Cape May Sunrise hdr Panorama

Happy Sunday!

Looking east from the sundeck of the Montreal Inn in Cape May a few moments before sunrise, yesterday.

Sunrises, I think, touch a special place in the soul, and, of course there is noting like a sunrise over the ocean where you can see right out to the edge of the world. On a morning like this, even if just for a second there, it takes a hard heart indeed…or one deeply troubled, beaten well down…not to embrace the cliché: every new day is a miracle. It is easy for the hopeful to take such beauty at the beginning as a promise of the potential of the day. And, of course, part of the wonder comes from the fact that every sunrise is not so spectacular. Our lives don’t always allow us to see the sunrise at all, and there are days when the sun just sneaks up behind clouds (literal or figurative) with no display (or none we can see). So we have reason to celebrate the moments like this one. The moment itself is a gift from the creator, and so is the ability to appreciate it.

On the technical side, this is a 9 exposure HDR panorama: 3 sets of 3 exposures blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix, the results stitched in PhotoShop Elements, and the the panorama final processed in Lightroom. Best viewed as large as your monitor will take it.


10/30/2010: Sunset cape May, HDRs

There are not many spots on the east coast where you can photograph a sunset over what looks like the ocean. Cape May New Jersey is one of of them. I am staying at the Montreal, and the view from the sundeck above the 4th floor is pretty spectacular. The first shot is about 15 minutes before sunset, and the second is about 15 minutes after sunset.

And here are clouds over Delaware Bay a few moments later.

These are all three-exposure HDRs with the Canon SX20IS, blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix and final processed in Lightroom.

This is my first experiment with HDR for sunsets…I am wondering what you all think? In hindsight, I would like to attempt these again without the –2/3 EV exposure compensation that I use of daylight landscape, since the real challenge is getting a realistic light level on the foreground. Maybe I will get another chance before heading back to Maine.


10/29/2010: bath Hawk

We were looking at a Merlin in the top of the pines across the entrance/exit loop by the  parking lot at Cape May Point State park, in front of the Hawk Watch, when one of the gents that was waiting in line for a look through my scope said, “Hay, look at that!”

That was an immature Red-tailed Hawk taking a bath in a fair sized puddle in the center of the loop, about 60 feet in front of us, right in line with the Merlin. So I swung the scope down, and the camera in. One wet hawk! In the image above he seems to be asking pretty plainly “Whach you lookin at?”

The hawk was, shall we say, busy, so I got to play with the zoom on both the camera and the scope and try several different framings, as well as some video.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. ISO 125, 1/320th and 1/640th.

Processed in Lightroom using a touch of Fill Light, some Blackpoint right, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset. Color adjusted by eye.

As you will see in the video, these shots were taken over a parking lot and a roadway, both in direct sun, and there was already a lot of heat shimmer in the air…which limits the resolution of the images.

Red-tailed Hawk Bathing

10/28/2010: second helping of fall

One of the advantages of my travel schedule is that I get to experience extended springs and falls. Just as the foliage show is over in Maine, the last week in October, I always travel to Cape May, New Jersey, and, most years, the foliage in South Jersey is just at peak. Next month, just before Thanksgiving I will be in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico. Fall is more variable in New Mexico than it is in New England, but about 3 out of 5 years, my visit catches the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande at their golden best. Spring is even more stretched for me, beginning in January in Florida, Feburary in Southern California, etc. I even occasionally catch Arizona’s second spring in August. 🙂

This is, according to my map, Ludlum’s Pond. Route 347, just north of where it comes back into 47 in Dennis, crosses the west end of it, and I have stopped several times on the way from Philadelphia to Cape May to photograph the foliage. This year the weather was chancy…with rain, thundershowers, and even a tornado warning in effect…but when I passed by the pond, it was no more than heavy overcast and a kind of watery light. With an HDR treatment, the weather actually shows the foliage to better advantage than full sun would have. Good thing, since that is all I had to work with.

HDR, in this kind of light, allows for a richly textured sky, while keeping enough light on the foliage and reflections to make for a very satisfying image. IMHO.

Canon SX20IS zoomed to about 48mm field of view for framing. Three exposures, auto bracketed, with the center moved down 2/3s EV. ISO 160.

Exposures blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix. My tone mapping in Photomatix is never extreme because I know I am going to do final processing in Lightroom: A bit of Recovery for the sky, some Fill Light, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and a touch of Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And here is a more open, wider angle view, of the other shore. Another three exposure HDR.


9/16/2010: Cape May Dawn HDR

Out on the beach with only my Canon SD4000IS, early in the morning, with the golden light of the sun flooding in under an overcast sky, I could not resist trying a handheld  HDR. Two exposures, separated by about 3.5EV using the exposure compensation dial. In hindsight I might have tried 3 exposures with a wider separation…with one exposure dialed all the way down to –2EV, but even then I doubt I could have preserved detail around the sun, and I certainly would have needed a tripod. I especially like the subtle, weathered blue of the tents in contrast to the greens of the beach plants.

Canon SD4000IS at 28mm equivalent. ISO 250.

Exposures blended with tone mapping in Photomatix. Final adjustments for Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance and Sharpen in Lightroom. Cropped from the bottom for composition.

From Cape May Fall 2010.