Saturday, 30 June 2012
So, what was previously a daily task of posting an image, something hopefully grabbing, something cool, is now a weekly, or monthly, or who knows task. I really no longer feel a drive to share. I feel a drive to try to take good images. But not to share, not to 'feed the machine' or keep 'posting to flickr daily'.
I don't know that I am shooting any less. Maybe slightly here or there, but I'm still trying to get out and could be shooting 100's a day, nearly a couple thousand over a weekend when I am at it.
The photo in this post is a foliage shot from Vermont taken a couple years ago. I did not post anything from this trip prior to today.
One of the things I've hoped to do is to shoot during an event, a season, and then share just prior to it when it happens again, say a year or two later. This is now one of those things, I waited about 23 months to finally post some foliage images.
I knew going into 2011 that it was going to be a big year for me as far as birding was concerned, and I was right. The entire year has been a turning point in my birding career, and I feel like I have started to come into my own. Do I have lots more to learn? Sure, but that's a big part of the fun. Lots of details finally started to click for me this year, and I'm happy to say that I'm beginning to see a bigger picture. I don't see "just a bird" anymore, but also how the bird is connected to the habitat it uses, and how we are affecting those habitats (for better and for worse). I'm also paying more attention to bird behavior, and find myself continually asking "what does that mean? why are you doing that?" My own birding "philosophy" continues to evolve, which I will share at some point (I already have to a certain extent, when I wrote about the Emotional Life List), and I watch with curious interest some of the discussions other birders have about things like "what differentiates a birder from a bird watcher?"
|A male Magnolia Warbler, captured and released at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, May 2011|
|Breeding pair of Orchard Orioles, a first-year male on the left and a female on the right.|
Participating in the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas this summer was also a fantastic experience that contributed to my growing avian knowledge base. This was an activity that I took part in largely on my own (as opposed to a festival or group birding outing), and it was empowering to be able to recognize and identify some new birds without assistance, as well as to find evidence of breeding either in the form of a nest, adults carrying food, or in some rare cases, fledglings that were not too many days out of the nest. I still remember the joy in my heart at finding several teeny Red-eyed Vireo fledges along the side of our road, and the great excitement at tracking down a begging Blue-winged Warbler on our neighbors' property and a whole party of begging Ovenbird babies just feet from my own front door! (A challenge for upcoming breeding seasons is to find an actual Ovenbird nest on our property, which is a tall order, as their nests are notoriously well-camouflage and difficult to find!)
|A Great Egret flies over Meadowbrook Marsh near Lakeside, OH|
|The male of our nesting Eastern Phoebe pair after being banded.|
|Surprised? Scared? Happy? Who knows what's going through this little Saw-whet Owl's mind here, but it was love at first sight for me!|
|Yours truly giving a birding program at the Athens Public Library in January 2011.|
Here's wishing you all a very birdy 2012!
Friday, 29 June 2012
Photographer Taryn Simon sums the balance up pretty well in the first line of her TED Talk, on photographing secret sites in the US:
"Ninety percent of my photographic process is, in fact, not photographic. It involves a campaign of letter writing, research and phone calls to access my subjects which can range from Hamas leaders in Gaza to a hibernating black bear in its cave in West Virginia."
Sounds boring, right? Until you see where the phone calls and letters lead her... Read more �
We often think about pushing flash into the post-sunset sky. But just behind us, there is a cool mix of light happening from the east as night encroaches. Paying attention to that mix can serve you well when you are learning to create interesting light on your own. Read more �
I think I might be able to help, and this seemed a like a good topic to tackle.
It just so happens that while browsing past images this one struck me. I had already done the edit, and tonight framed it and added a logo.
So, first thing is - sometimes a butt shot is ok and cool.
But if what is happening is that every time you see a bird it flies away, then yeah, that's a problem.
Birds will do what they are doing until they want to do something else. If you are not there they will do their own thing. If you are there, you can either watch and see what they'd do on their own, or you can influence things and then see their reaction. The trick really is to be observant, and to tell when your presence is affecting things.
With some observation, you can start to guess at what might or might not cause the flight-response.
I've even used that simple premise as a way to get CLOSER to birds. Here's how - if I see a bird, I'm watching, and I see someone else on a trajectory towards me and the bird, I will back off. Give the bird lots of room, so I am no longer a part of the equation. Then I (sometimes, and sometimes succeeding) have tried to predict what the person approaching might do, and what the bird might react by doing. Then I've moved and sat or positioned myself in a non-threatening position, and waited. It doesn't always work out, but some times it does.
Butts shouldn't always be seen as a bad thing.
But if that's all you get to see you need to rethink your approach and try to think like the bird a little.
If you are approaching to the point that the bird always flies away, then, you need to not approach so close and learn to read the birds better. Some birds don't like friends and will always fly away (like a kingfisher) but others will tolerate you if you do it right.
Other things you can do to limit your impact when out looking for birds are:
2011 flew by and was an eventful year for Burrard-Lucas Photography. For me there were some truly memorable and humbling experiences such as coming face to face with a wild giant panda in China and being confronted by the legendary Komodo dragon in [...]
As you might imagine, the least common visitors get the biggest hoots and hollers from me, and are most likely to find themselves in the cross-hairs of my camera lens. This is unfair to the more common visitors, such as the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. As I was looking for photos to illustrate this post, I noticed that I don't have very many photos of Downy Woodpeckers, and the ones that I do have all look virtually the same.
Yup, that's a male Downy Woodpecker clinging to the suet cage. We can tell that it's a male by the little note of red on the back of his head; female Downies have no red on their head.
While I may not jump up and down every time I see a Downy Woodpecker, I certainly do appreciate each appearance they make. They are easily visible year-round, and the parents will bring their begging fledges to our suet feeders once they are old enough to leave the safety of the nest. One time, about 5 years ago, they nested in a snag just above our driveway, and we were alerted to said nest by the incessant begging of the babies within. It took a few days to figure out where this high-pitched squeaking, reminiscent of a mouse with a megaphone, was coming from, and I was happy to learn that it was a clutch of successfully hatched wee Downies.
Since woodpeckers aren't songbirds, we don't really think of them making much noise except for pecking and drumming with their bills on trees or fence posts. They do emit a number of vocalizations, though. Downies make a loud "pick!" sound as well as a whinnying-type of call that descends in pitch at the end. They also make some other squeaky and churring calls, especially when several birds are in close proximity to each other. The Downy population in our woods has slowly been on the rise since I started counting them for Project FeederWatch seven years ago. At first we would only see 1 or 2 Downies at a time, but now it is common to have at least 4 within view at once. I know there are more of them around than that, but keeping them all in sight at one time is tricky! When they are not perched on a feeder, they are in constant motion, hitching up and down the trees in search of bugs in and under the bark, and during the winter it seems like they are constantly bickering, harassing each other, and shooing each other away.
A Downy at the homemade bird dough bowl, watching someone else fly by. Perhaps another Downy?
This year I have noticed an interesting trend among my Downies. Normally when I step outside to refill the feeders, or just to have a look around on the deck, all the birds scatter except for the fearless Carolina Chickadees. Now the Downies are joining the ranks as the next species to be unperturbed by my presence. I can stand right next to the suet feeders with a Downy at arm's length, munching away like it doesn't even see me. Yet another bird whose trust I have presumably earned. I feel mighty honored to stand so close to these fantastic creatures.
Brett was down for Father's Day weekend and one of the things we wanted to do was get in a couple of good trail runs. He's heard me talk (a lot) about the Mt. Disappointment 50K and how it ends. Basically you run 27 hilly miles with over 3600' of elevation gain, THEN finish the race by doing a 5 mile, 2650' climb from West Fork up the Gabrielino & Kenyon Devore Trails to the top of Mt. Wilson.
This final climb tells the 50K tale. If you've trained well and run a good race a middle-of-the-pack runner might gain 15-20 minutes on this leg. If not, you could easily lose an hour or more. In any case you put everything you have left into this climb. An elevation profile and some stats for Kenyon Devore are included in the post Hitting the (Big) Hills of Southern California.
There are several ways to incorporate Kenyon Devore into a loop, but I could only think of two that didn't involve running on Mt. Wilson Road. One option was a 22 mile/5000'gain loop from Shortcut Saddle to Mt. Wilson and back. That wasn't going to happen because just five days before I'd run the Holcomb Valley 33 Mile race. Instead we opted to start on top of Mt. Wilson and use the Rim Trail, Gabrielino Trail and Rincon - Red Box Road to get to West Fork. This would pare down the loop to a manageable 12 miles and 3000' of gain.
Other than a "few" gnats, a lot of poison oak and some Turricula (Poodle-dog bush), the Rim Trail was in good shape and the running excellent. Once away from the observatory complex the trail has an adventurous, backcounty feel. The trail was in good enough condition that Brett enjoyed running it in the KomodoSport LS.
The day was going to be a scorcher and I was glad that much of the Rim Trail was on the shaded, north side of the crest. The Gabrielino Trail and Rincon - Red Box Road were also relatively cool and in the shade. With no race clock ticking away, we stopped at West Fork and ate some blueberries and PB&J. So far the route had been down, down, down; but in a few minutes it was going to go up, up, up.
One of the surprises of the day was how much the Turricula (Poodle-dog bush) had grown along the Gabrielino and lower Kenyon Devore Trails since I had been here in early March. A rain gauge near here (Opids Camp) recorded nearly seven inches of precipitation from March 25 to April 26. This appears to have promoted the growth of the Turricula. In a very dry rain season the rain and snow had been much needed. It rejuvenated the streams and vegetation, and the area looked much as it would if the seasonal rainfall had been normal.
The Turricula could not be avoided in some places, but that will be remedied in a couple of weeks when Gary Hilliard's Mt. Disappointment Endurance Run volunteer trailwork group works on this section of the Gabrielino Trail and the Kenyon Devore Trail.
With the Summer Solstice approaching and the Sun so high, the temperature difference between sunny and shaded sections of trail was remarkable. About the time we were on Kenyon Devore the Clear Creek RAWS recorded a fuel temperature -- the temperature of a wood dowel in direct sun -- at a scorching 104�F. Brett did well on the climb and could have zoomed ahead. I had not recovered from Holcomb and struggled a bit on the exposed and steep sections of trail. Higher on the trail there was a breeze and more shade and that helped. It also helped pouring water over my head at the creek crossing!
It was great to show Brett Kenyon Devore, and what better way to sharpen the appetite for one of his superbly prepared dinners!
Turricula (Poodle-dog Bush)
PhotographyontheRun.com Copyright 2006-2012 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Just a quickie today on the whys and whens of using a single, small shoot-thru shade to completely control contrast-killing glare when shooting into backlight. Read more �
This weekend I was sitting at the dining room table having a late breakfast, and I wondered out loud if "my" wrens were okay, because I had not yet heard a peep from them or seen them. Oftentimes they are one of the first birds I hear in the morning, so that was why I was a little concerned. Not to worry, though. As soon I finished posing the question to my bowl of cereal, up popped a wren onto the railing and right into the bowl that holds the bird dough.
It's when things like this happen that I can't help but wonder if there is some kind of connection between myself and the birds. I mean, come on! Wonder about the bird and then it shows up immediately thereafter, as if conjured?!
Don't worry, Heather - we are here and we are fine. Now, if you don't mind, I'm just going to sit in the food.
There were actually 2 of them sitting in here at one point, but I wasn't fast enough with the camera to get a shot of that. In total, there were 3 Carolina Wrens at my feeders at one time this weekend, as was the case last weekend. I had 3 of them at one time in early December, too. This is remarkable because this is the first year in 7 years of counting for FeederWatch that I've ever seen 3 Carolina Wrens at once at my feeders.
Contemplating his/her next bite?
I also enjoy the woodpeckers, and we get three species of them reliably: Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied. The Downies seem to be the most tame of the three, readily coming in to the suet feeders even if I'm standing right next to them. This sweet little female Downy Woodpecker looks like she just landed, what with the little spray of snow under her tail.
Tra-la-la, minding her own business, making sure I'm getting her good side...
... then this feisty fella shows up. Doesn't he look MAD?! His little head feathers are all puffed up, full of 'tude.
Here's a look at his puffed up mane from the back:
And even though he's chased the female away by now, his bravado continues:
Oh wait, never mind. It's all cool. No problems here, lady.
Lemme jus' grab a big ol' hunk o' dough...
And get on outta here!
I soooo love this shot, caught serendipitously by depressing the shutter at just the right time, of course. It almost has the feel of a raptor caught in flight rather than a woodpecker.
Yes, friends, these are just a few examples of why I love my birds. They are wonderful in every way.
*Okay, regarding the alpha code for Carolina Wren... CAWR isn't technically correct, because that abbreviation could also refer to 2 other wren species in the United States: CActus WRen and CAnyon WRen. The correct bander's code for each of these species is as follows: CACW (Cactus Wren), CARW (Carolina), and CANW (Canyon). I use CAWR for my wren, though, because the chances of me encountering either of the other 2 species, which live out west, is pretty remote at my feeders. Besides, it's shorthand that's supposed to be easy for ME to read. But I digress.
An Albuquerque police officer first told a news videographer that he would not be allowed to continue filming an incident where the body of a motorcyclist remained trapped underneath a car this morning.
KOB-TV news videographer Jeremy Fine asserted his rights to continue shooting.
But Officer B. Arbogast, who himself was wearing a camera, insisted the victim’s privacy rights overrode Fine’s First Amendment rights to document a news story from a public sidewalk.
He tried to get Fine to move to a media staging area, but when Fine insisted on remaining where he was, he expanded the crime scene to prevent Fine from getting his shot.
“Cops can tell me where not to go but they can’t tell me where to go,” Fine said in a quick telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime this afternoon.
"The first cop said I could go to the staging area or I could stay where I was. The second cop told me I had to go to the staging area."
Fine had a similar run-in with Albuquerque police in 2006 when he walked past a police cruiser to interview witnesses to a balloon crash. He was detained while all other citizens were allowed to walk past the cruiser.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, who will be sending a letter to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz, provided the following statement:
Watching the video of a senior officer who should know better illustrates how important proper guidelines and training are regarding these issues.
It is neither a police officer’s duty or right to decide what is appropriate news coverage of any story. So long as news personnel are in a public forum and not violating any ordinances they have a right to gather news unfettered by the personal feelings or opinions of law enforcement. Anything less may be considered a form of prior restraint or censorship. It is all well and good that the police set-up a media staging area but that does not mean it is the only place that media are allowed to be. They can go wherever the public is allowed, which in this case is outside of the "crime scene" perimeter. To expand that area for the sole purpose to preventing photographs or video recording is not a reasonable time, place and manner restriction and limits more First Amendment protected activity than is necessary to achieve a governmental purpose.
This department would be well-advised to take a page from the Crime/disaster scene guidelines of San Diego Sheriff's Department Media Guide, specifically:
Do not establish artificial barriers. For example, do not hold the press at bay a block from the crime scene, while allowing the general public to wander freely just beyond the crime scene tape.
Do not prevent the taking of pictures or interviews of person(s) in public places. The media, when legally present at an emergency scene, may photograph or report anything or interview anyone they observe.
Do not isolate the media outside the crime/incident scene unless the area has been secured to preserve evidence or their presence jeopardizes law enforcement operations.
Please send stories, tips and videos to email@example.com.
CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So I've created an Indiegogo fundraiser in an attempt to raise $3,500 by July 2 in order to prepare for my July 25 trial.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I'm documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I'm promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.