Sunday, 31 July 2011

Always be shooting and creating


While I will occasionally take a short break from either shooting or posting, I generally like to always be active and shooting and harvesting images.

Chincoteague NWR, VA

This past long weekend I was very active and drove 600 miles plus, and visited 6 different places including 3 refuges, the DC Zoo, Rennfest and Susquehanna River.

I think I must have taken more than 3 or 4 thousand images. Given that amount of shooting it becomes a lot easier to have stuff to work with and find what looks best, what worked well, and process and post something.

Bombay Hook NWR, DE

Part of what keeps me motivated is a desire to always have something new to post and share.

This time of year, in between summer and fall - I am trying to hit as many spots / places as possible to check in with locations and see where they are during the changing seasons. In past years I'd try to make it to a couple locations very frequently and now I am trying to cast a wider net. Going some place super frequently has its benefits as far as learning the location and specifics. But now I am doing more than that, and often will also do over night trips to extend my reach - for example like visiting Chincoteague NWR.

Out on a Limb

I can't wait for fall to kick in to full gear.

-50- / Jon


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I Stand Corrected.

Okay, so maybe on-camera flash is cool sometimes, too. Check out this video by the Japanese (of course) band Androp, for Bright Siren. Hit the jump for the BTS video, to see how it was done. Read more �


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Oaks Along the Secret Trail

Oaks along the Secret Trail

From this morning's run on the Secret Trail (Calabasas - Cold Creek Trail). Copyright 2006-2011 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.


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Massive, anchored in your rituals, as old as your presence.

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Image and label caption for: Massive, anchored in your rituals, as old as your presence. Click on the image to see the text larger.


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We had chickens in our home in India for a long while, but it had been months, or years, since I saw some chicks. My mum decided to keep eight fertilized eggs for hatching. And one day, all eight hatched, and out came these cute little furry creatures. Here's a shot with the old mommy hen with her newly hatched chicks.

Out of the eight, seven were either black or dark brown. But one, my favourite, was a beautiful yellow and cream. However, with time, he too grew darker feathers and became black!


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Bunny! 16

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Another 'last years model' (still doesn't look as if I'm going to be getting out with the camera any day soon. Bugger!). Shot in a crop of barley whilst lying in a ditch in the field margin.


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Passing by a group of folks going for a horseback ride. I remember those days when I rode my horse daily. The Baltimore Orioles have brought their "kids", and this is a young male.


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Leaves and Mangoes

Ignore the title - I couldn't find any better title for this post. Here, I just wanted to display some pictures I took of a few mangoes and leaves that grew around my house.


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Flickr Still Beats Facebook for Photographers

When stock photography company Getty Images announced its agreement with Flickr to broker photo sales on behalf of the site?s members, one of the attractions of the Yahoo property was its size. According to the press release issued at the time, Flickr was then attracting 54 million visitors every month and its 27 million members [...]


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Brad Trent for Barron's

Brad Trent shot the mid-year Barron's roundtable issue, this time with a global investing theme. He shot the montage separately, using segmented backgrounds from ? Ikea? It gets the full On Assignment treatment, with lighting setups, etc. on his blog.

Classic Brad: he turned in his lighting setup shots to the paper. And they ran them?

See also: Brad Trent's Fake Reality Portraits



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Yabir� ((Jabiru) Jabiru mycteria

A veces antes de una salida de campo solemos decir,"Que bueno ser�a volver con fotos de...." y en este caso pudimos cumplir con lo que nos propusimos afortunadamente, no siempre se cumplen nuestros deseos pero en esta oportunidad pudimos apreciar 3 de estas imponentes aves volando sobre nuestras cabezas mientras camin�bamos en la Estancia San Lorenzo.


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150 / 66!

Rob and I don’t need any excuse to pack up our trusty Toyota Hilux and head off on a camping trip, even if it’s only for one night.� The beautiful weather in Namibia is perfect for spending time outdoors and in the five years that we’ve lived here we’ve seldom passed up an opportunity to [...]


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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Making the Most of Your Location

Photography: Neal Dench With so many photographers battling for a decreasing number of sales and commissions, success depends on a photographer?s ability to stand out and offer a unique product. Usually, that comes down to a particular vision and a trademark style that when combined with talent form a photographer?s prime asset. But a distinct [...]


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Passer domesticus

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Passer domesticus


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The Pure Black Rabbits of Lunga Treshnish Isles

When I was on Lunga in the group of islands known as the Treshnish Isles off the west coast of Mull a few weeks ago. I noticed some lovely pure black rabbits. These are apparently descendants of the original domestic … Continue reading


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Night Hunt

I went out for a short night hunt in the frontyard one cool night. I was expecting to find many nocturnal creatures I had yet to see, but it turned out the hunt was a rather boring one. All I managed to find were a couple of common critters. Like this katydid.

And a Two-Tailed Spider with two small legs and 6 long ones.

And nasty mosquitoes that made me wish I never went out at that point of time!

And, well, the big resident frog, who apparently was getting stung by four mosquitoes at once on his face. Zoom in and try to spot the mozzies!

I decided to retreat back indoors because of the mosquitoes.


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Hello, I thought I might swing in to thank you for your art. I'm no photographer, but I enjoy photography. I appreciate your work. Your photography actually helps me a lot, as frequent struggles often put me in a bad mood. Your wonderful pictures, along w

Dustin, thanks for swinging by and I appreciate your note. very glad the photos give you a smile. That?s what its all about. Cheers, Nj


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Hello, I thought I might swing in to thank you for your art. I'm no photographer, but I enjoy photography. I appreciate your work. Your photography actually helps me a lot, as frequent struggles often put me in a bad mood. Your wonderful pictures, along w

Dustin, thanks for swinging by and I appreciate your note. very glad the photos give you a smile. That?s what its all about. Cheers, Nj


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The Pure Black Rabbits of Lunga Treshnish Isles

When I was on Lunga in the group of islands known as the Treshnish Isles off the west coast of Mull a few weeks ago. I noticed some lovely pure black rabbits. These are apparently descendants of the original domestic … Continue reading


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When nesting is over, then what?

One thing that I have really enjoyed about taking part in Ohio's 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas is the fact that it's gotten me out exploring other habitats. I live in the woods - my house is in the woods, and our "neighborhood" is heavily wooded, with some bits of open field here and there. As a result, I have become very familiar over the last 6 or so years with woodland birds, and also those birds who prefer what is known as "edge" habitat (the edge between woods and open areas). I am not so familiar with birds of more open areas, nor of birds that like moderately wet places. Due to my work with the Breeding Bird Atlas, though, I have taken the first steps to learning more about the areas beyond my backyard. I have gained a better appreciation and understanding for what birds are likely to be found together in these surroundings that are new to me. I am far, far away from the flat lands of the upper 2/3rds of the state, though, so there are still many things I need to see and learn about all types of different habitats that just don't exist down here in the hilly, unglaciated portions of Ohio.

There is one place to learn about VERY different habitat from what I'm used to, and that's up along the northern border of the state, in a very special town called Lakeside. In just a couple of months, this quaint little town that juts out into Lake Erie, just south of Put-In-Bay and Kelleys Island and a few miles west of Marblehead, will became a haven for birders. We will be gathering for a very special weekend, where we will look, listen, learn, and laugh, and leave our cares behind for a few days on a mini birding vacation. I'm really looking forward to it. This little getaway takes place in the form of the Midwest Birding Symposium.

I went to my first Midwest Birding Symposium 2 years ago, and had a wonderful time. It was where I met a lot of my blogging friends for the first time, and I'm looking forward to meeting even more of you at this year's symposium! Don't get me wrong - you don't have to be a blogger to attend, but there will be a good number of us there. If you'd like more information about the symposium, you can get to the homepage right from my blog! See that little badge in the upper right-hand corner, the one that's got rotating images, just above my photo? Click on it and you'll find all the nitty-gritty details about this awesome event, including how to register!

Quoting from the homepage of the event, it's "the highlight of the birding year!" It will be the highlight of my fall, that's for sure. What with breeding season wrapping up pretty much by August, I'm sure I'll be going through a little birding withdrawal after having spent so much time intently looking for breeding evidence in this little corner of the state. The symposium will be the perfect cure for those blues.There will be many fabulous programs to attend, and wonderful things to see and do.

Gulls, terns and cormorants are commonplace up along Lake Erie, but for a "country girl" like me, all these waterbirds are still new and novel. They are waiting to welcome you to the symposium!

You can watch bird banding at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. The folks there would love to see you!

The town of Lakeside is small, peaceful and quaint. Don't you want to come see it for youself?

Here's the entrance to the pier. Can you smell the lakeside air yet?

You'll likely see some folks fishing out on the pier...

... and you can enjoy a wonderful Lake Erie sunset from there.

Here's the auditorium. We all gather together here at various times throughout the symposium.

One of those seats is waiting for you. Won't you come join us?

Official 2011 Midwest Birding Symposium Blogger


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Prairies - Photo of the Day - July 28th, 2011

Prairies - Photo of the Day - July 28th, 2011
View Cart "Prairies" A huge cloud looms over a ranch on the vast prairies of Alberta, Canada. View this image on my Website.


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Wheatear?s on the Isle of Mull

Here is another small set og images on the beautiful wheatear. There are good numbers of these birds around the island but they can be tricky to get close to, but with a little patience this can be achieved. Here … Continue reading


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Lupine, Chugach National Forest, Alaska. I found a beautiful field of lupine yesterday� I have said it before, but lupine is an amazing wildflower.� I have seen it in some of the warmest places on earth – Death Valley, and in some of the coldest – Denali National Park. To get the soft purple glow, [...]


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Photography Schools See the Web as Main Driver of Job Growth

Photography: lubright There?s never been a worse time to be a photographer. Newspapers are cutting staff. Prices are dropping through the floor. Rights are being reduced and the only part of the industry that?s showing signs of growth are the competition. There?s also never been a better time to be a photographer. The price of [...]


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Friday, 29 July 2011

Tiny Tree Frog 1

My sister found this tiny juvenile frog clinging onto the wall in her room one slightly rainy night. She thought its just one of those common toads you see outside but when I took a look, I realized it was actually a tiny tree frog, probably a juvenile. Here's a shot of me 'shaking hands' with it. You can figure out the size of the treefrog as well.

As I do so everytime I find a creature indoors, I took it out and snapped a few photographs of the frog on various spots. Here are some of the best photos.

What surprises me most about this frog was -well yes, its the first time I'm spotting one like him- the fact that like the stick insect, he decided to come over and look for me! I can't explain why this happens. Maybe these creatures find their way in because of the light, or maybe to stay warm and dry during the rain. Whatever it is, I sure am glad I get to spot and photograph them without having to search for hours outdoors.

I love the way he's looking up at me.

Eventually I let it climb onto a leaf which was occupied by a slug. He got on and sat ontop of the slug.


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3 Trends That Will Affect Your Photography Earnings

Photography: Daniel.d.slee It was changing trends in the world of photography that made it possible for enthusiasts to earn income from their images. Digital SLRs became cheap enough for anyone to produce professional quality photographs. The growth of the Web created a whole new market for low-cost imagery, and the rise of microstock produced one [...]


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Nestboxes for rent

While I'm away birding in West Virginia, I'm re-running some of my favorite posts from the past. I'll have lots to share when I get back, I'm sure. For now, though, enjoy these oldies but goodies.

Fieldside Realty -
providing safe nest boxes since 2006

It is our business at
Fieldside Realty
to offer clean, safe, and free housing
to Bluebirds and Tree Swallows each spring.

Each of our properties includes
* Handcrafted one-room oak box,
perfect for nest building and starting your family
* Stovepipe baffle for security against rodents and snakes
* Creekside access, just wingbeats away
* Free nesting material
* Some of the best bug hunting in town
* Excellent perching spots nearby

The properties are located in a friendly,
well-landscaped neighborhood.
Humans will check in on your dwellings periodically
to make sure that you are doing well
and to track the progress of your
growing family.

We hope you will consider renting from
Fieldside Realty today.
(Special appreciation given to multiple brood attempts.)

NEW LISTING: 1 duck box available for immediate occupancy


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Gear - multiple bodies

I try not to write about gear too much. Gear should work, not be the focus of major thought or discussion, and be the tools used to do something - take images.

There's a funny reply to the comment "wow great photo, what kind of camera do you have?" - something like "would you ask Shakespeare what of kind of pen he had?" The tools play a part, but they don't do the thing, they don't automate the making of great images.

Time and effort is best spent focusing on learning about subjects, locations, photographic techniques. Time should be spent researching, appreciating the work of others, and trying to grow as a photographer.

All that said, I just read a very good review by Thom on the 200-400mm VR lens. And then just a day later I read the very brief (too brief in my mind to really count for a review) of the new 200-400mm VR2 lens by Trey.


I agree with pretty much everything Thom said about the lens in his review. Great lens, and have issues, and struggles at 400mm for long distance shooting, and struggles even more with converters. But close up to medium distances it is great. Thom also noted much of the time he used the lens he used different bodies, as new ones became available, and very often got varying results.

Having Multiple Bodies
There are multiple benefits to having more than one Digital SLR. The most obvious of which is that you can be out shooting and have two lenses mounted and ready to go. One might have a short zoom, and the other a long telephoto. Like I said, that's the most obvious of reasons to have 2 cameras.

Assuming the cameras are from the same manufacturers (same lens mount), and might share the same batteries (like many Nikons) - there's the benefit of swappable batteries, multiple chargers, similarities in menu systems and controls, etc.

A second body is also great as a backup. Most of the time you can only shoot with one camera at a time, so, you only really NEED one camera, which makes the second camera often best thought of as a standby in case the first camera breaks, fails, dies, etc. I've bought 5 digital SLRs and more than a couple times I've had to send one in to be repaired. Actually, I never send the D70s in to be fixed. It has trouble writing to the memory card, and some times writes jibberish. The D200, D300 both went in for focus issues, and the D300 more than once. The D300 actually also had a sensor die that detects the state of the mirror (it would stick UP).

In reading Thom's review, and remembering some of the problems I've had with gear, it reminded how good it can be to have a second body. Focus performance can be a very frustrating thing to investigate. Thom said that for his 200-400mm lens the major thing regarding focus was the body, not the lens. I agree.

Last year I wondered and worried about my D300 and 200-400mm VR and the focus or lack of focus performance I was getting. As part of that I wound up going back to shoot with my old D200 and was shocked to discover that the D200 was working better for fast focus tracking.

I sent the D300 in to be "fixed" and they tuned it, cleaned it, and also set everything to the opposite of how I had it (release priority, small jpg, 9-point, blah blah).

Recently I've been using my D300s and have had some strange focus problems. With the 200-400mm I've had it hunt briefly for focus, and then give up. I scratched my head for a while, and then tried the D300 and the problem went away, it was working properly. Most likely for my issues with focus it is my gear and it is that I let my gear get dirty and I push my expectations to where I should probably get a pro level body like a D3...

So, my post was motivated by this discovery, and I finally got to the point. Having more than one camera to use allows for an entirely different set of tests you can try to see if it is you, or the lens, or the camera, or the conditions you're shooting in, or maybe nothing is wrong and everything is behaving as best as can be expected. With one camera and a problem, you might never be able to figure it out, because you have no other camera body to make a comparison to.

Focus problems with a pro-sumer level dSLR is a very common thing. I've had questions and some times actual focus problems with all my gear - as early as with the D70s and Tamron 18-200mm. Back then it was me, and my novice ways. I didn't understand focus, auto-focus, and it works be "Seeing" contrast. Try focusing on the sky or a brightly lit white wall without features - there no contrast and the camera will hunt and find nothing. Auto-focus works by seeing a change in brightness levels (contrast) and adjusting the focus until there is a sharp or distinct transition (my un-technical description). Cameras use two type of focus sensor, straight-line sensors and 2 perpendicular straight-line sensors grouped together as one.

That's auto-focus 101. When things start to get complicated is for moving subjects, placement in the frame, the direction of the movement, the speed of the movement, and the settings and horsepower of the camera itself. Trying to figure those things out and what works best and when isn't easy.

Skyway Robbery Pt 8 (plus animation)
Being able to rule out a faulty or dirty or mis-configured or mishandled camera and lens is a huge thing. Not everyone will push their gear to the limits. I don't travel to Alaska or Africa, or other exotic places, but I do seem to push things.

Birds in flight or sports are probably a couple of the most demanding focus situations to shoot in. And birds are probably harder since they are small and can move in all directions while for most sports the subjects remain on or close to the ground.

If you are upgrading to a newer camera, keep the old one. If you have a good camera now, consider buying another lesser one, used, and keep it around as second to shoot with or test things out when you run in to problems.

5 years ago I felt I really spend a lot and was done buying gear when I bought my first dSLR, a D70s and a single lens. That was 2005, now it is 2010 and I shoot with 3 bodies often taking 2 out on a day. The Fuji S5 is great for high dynamic range shooting and makes a nice landscape camera. For everything else I use either a D300 or D300s, and usually it's the D300s since I can switch to video. / Jon


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