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Posts tagged ‘Blue Heron’

New Bird in Town – D810 Comments

I’ve blogged here on numerous occasions about urban wildlife such as the blue heron’s that frequent Elm Park.  (Elm Park is located in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts).  Today, however, we found ourselves confronted with a heron of a different color, white.

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I did a bit of quick research upon returning home, looking at questions such as “what is the difference between a heron and an egret?” and “what is the range of the white egret, or heron?”  Alas, my efforts were somewhat frustrated.   According to Wikipedia the difference between heron and egret is largely terminological rather than biological.  Egrets tend to be white.  If you google the two terms and check on images, you’ll see the same kinds of images.  My bottom line question really was:  are they new in town?  Memory tells me yes.  They are very common in the mid-Atlantic and further south, but I don’t recall seeing too many in New England.  Someone educate me if my memory is off, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Photographing these birds is relatively easy.  You can get quite close if are are respectful and quiet. After all, this was in a downtown park, not exactly the middle of the marsh.  Herons also don’t seem to be easily distracted from their work, which is fishing.  Unfortunately for this fair specimen, he was having little luck.  We watched him for quite some time and he was coming up empty beaked, every time.  Herons are usually better at their jobs than that.  This one may need to step up his game.  The best shot is often one with them flying in or out, or exhibiting their catch.  This guy stood there and though his forays into the water were very graceful, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

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It was tough to get another interesting shot until a well timed flock of geese flew across the scene.  He was actually startled for a second, but the incident did give me some background that was badly needed.

 

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It will be interesting to see if his presence in the Park is a trend or an outlier.  Or, as I mentioned above, is only of interest because of my failing memory.  Regardless, I do wish him good luck fishing.  He needs it.

Tech Note:

Much as I dislike the kind of photographic gear discussions that take place on the internet, I did want to mention that these shots were taken with Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D810.  I’ve been a Nikon user for many years, and really enjoyed the image output from the D800.  If you print large for exhibitions, all those pixels are useful.  Plus, the D800 has incredible dynamic range, very useful for nature work.  However, it always felt to me like it was really a studio, tripod camera, and handled more like the medium format cameras it has been replacing.  I also like to shot more spontaneously from time to time.  The D810 now makes that possible.  In many different ways, Nikon fixed things that weren’t broken, but made it hard to really relax with the D800.  The grip is better, the shutter is much quieter, the shutter mechanism does not create vibrations that undermine the high resolution power of the images, the video features are improved, etc.  In this case, all those pixels allowed me to crop heavily into the image.  These are all the equivalent of a 100% crop.  Obviously I should have had a longer lens, but alas, I did not.  I could go on and on, but others are doing a much better job of actually reviewing this piece of gear.  If you have a D800 though, it may not look like a worthwhile upgrade.  It actually may be for some people, particularly those desiring to make the D800 a real “go to” camera.  Again, I dislike tribal gear discussions.  All cameras these days are quite good.  It really boils down to trying to find the one that does the job you need, and with which you can be most comfortable.  That is likely to vary from person to person.

Swipes (and a Blue Heron) Across Elm Park

I’m taking some liberties with the term swipe here.  A swipe, as I was taught, involves slowing down the shutter speed of your camera to as slow as perhaps 1/2 second and moving the camera in order to create a kind of moving blur, one that gives a sense of movement.  It helps if you’ve got a colorful landscape scene with which to deal.  I this case, I inadvertently created a swipe when trying to capture the flight of a blue heron across the pond in Elm Park, Worcester, Massachusetts.  You can deal with motion in a number of different ways.  You can use a high shutter speed to freeze the action.  You can also, however, sacrifice sharpness by slowing your shutter speed to the point at which the movement itself is captured.  This gives you an abstract representation of the subject (i.e., sharp, it ain’t).  Enough with the lecture.  Here’s a slide show of what happened when a blue heron, a common site in Elm Park, decided he’d had enough of the nosey photographer.

 

Fall Rambles

Fall is rightfully thought of as photography season in many respects, and that’s for one reason, which can be summed up in one word:  color.  Since so much of my work is now in black and white, it can be a bit challenging to get into the spirit of the season.  But it is infectious and one might say, came to me.  Here are a few favorites from this year, for your enjoyment.  I truly hope that everyone notices, and appreciated the changing seasons. Those beautiful colors, like so much of our climate related experience are indeed vulnerable as we move ahead.  But for now…

Cold evening air over the warmer land and lakes kicks things off for us.  Early fall, Patch Reservoir, Worcester.

It’s been another of those rolling foliage experiences.  No real crescendo, some trees just seem to turn earlier than others.  Above and below at Babson College, just last week.

That can make for it’s own interesting interplay of colors.  Increasingly, I seem to note that it’s not only the trees that get into the act.  Some weeds can be pretty spectacular themselves.

This was from June Street, in Worcester, site of a construction project.  Hopefully the old stone wall will survive.  These weeds, probably not.  We also get help though from late season flowers.  These tough guys have to survive some pretty chilly nights.  Again, from Babson…

One of the great things about fall is that it isn’t winter!  At least not yet.  Opportunities for fishing are still to be found.  (From Elm Park, in Worcester, an old friend…)

But at some point, it’s time to go.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore

I’ve mentioned Virginia’s Eastern Shore quite a few times in this blog.  The Eastern Shore extends between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  The Bay itself is one of the most important water resources in the world, and one of the most environmentally threatened.  We had the pleasure of spending the last week at St. Michael’s, just across the Bay from the Baltimore and DC areas, with the great photographic innovator and teacher, Tony Sweet.  Tony, as I said, is relentlessly innovative in his pursuit of new ways of creating art, of using the tools at our disposal to express something of our personal vision.  Interestingly though, we got to talking about the great Baltimore based photographer of the 40’s and 50’s, A. Aubrey Bodine, whose images though apparently quite “classical” nevertheless also reflected an intense dedication to innovation.  This first image is inspired by my fondness for his work.  Bodine loved capturing the activities along the harbors and ports of the Bay.  Taken just after sunrise at St. Michael’s (Maryland) harbor.

This next image though is much more contemporary.  We had an on-going conversation with a Blue Heron at Tilghman Island, just west of St. Michael’s the following morning.  This guy was without a doubt, working us just as much as we were working him.  The fishermen seemed to be in on the deal too, and I think they were the ones who were prompting him, with fish of course, to hang around so that they wouldn’t be bothered.  The photographic problem here is a very dull sky, literally white with clouds, no detail at all, behind an otherwise potentially interesting scene.  Texture overlays to the rescue.  (That involves layering a thin texture over an image in Photoshop, hopefully not over doing it, to provide, some texture of course.)

The purpose of the tools, in my view, is to help us tell the real story, a story not always captured by the camera, in the moment.  The job of photography in part is to communicate what it was really like to be there, the feel of the moment, not just what the sensor was able to capture.  One guy’s opinion of course.