January 2017 - Short Stories

January 2017 - Short Stories

Jan 27, 2017 ~ January is a hard month for birding and photography. The weather is chancy; we had a couple of days of serious Winter before the temperature went back up to 79F. Some cloudy days, but also a lot of wind. And some days a lot of water! Actually, it feels more like March than January. So our results have been rather erratic. It is too soon for Spring Migration although some birds are beginning to show breeding colors.

But we have had some interesting days.

White-faced Ibis with a crawfish Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600 sec f/6.3 ISO 2000

White-faced Ibis with a crawfish
Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600
sec f/6.3 ISO 2000

Late one afternoon we ended up at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. We had NOT seen the Merlin again along the fence posts (at that time) and Bill is still peeved at me for accidentally scaring off a Kestrel that was posed so well in a leafless bush. But, this trip we found a few White-faced Ibis mixed in with the White Ibis and not too far from the road. It was getting really late, so this was a nice high ISO test for my new Nikon D810. The only photos that were successful were when the bird was facing to my right so the setting sun illuminated his body. All of the ones when he turned to walk back had his body in deep shadows.

Anhinga enjoying the sunshine Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600 sec f/6.3 ISO 1600

Anhinga enjoying the sunshine
Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600 sec f/6.3 ISO 1600

On afternoon we loaded up the cart with big cameras and tripods to walk around at Brazos Bend State Park. We saw some juvenile White Ibis, the Anhinga shown above and a couple of Cardinals and a Wren. I have no idea why I shot that that at ISO 1600 as it was a bright day.

It used to be one of my favorite places to go but after several big floods and rampant vegetation growth in the lakes, I am just not so impressed anymore. We didn't see any lily pad growth and perhaps the recent freeze helped with that, but the hyacinth has choked off a lot of 40-acre Lake. And Creekfield has cat tail reeds growing up to the larger pier. Besides the loss of water habitat, we didn't see as many birds as usual. Bill's Parks Pass expires in February and we are seriously considering not renewing it. Paying by the time might better since we so seldom visit.

Young Yellow-crowned Night Heron portrait Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1250 sec f/8.0 ISO 1250

Young Yellow-crowned Night Heron portrait
Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1250
sec f/8.0 ISO 1250

I absolutely love juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons and we found a great subject one afternoon in Surfside at an abandoned pier. All Night Herons are great fun to photograph since they stand still for the longest times. I started out way back, he was filling the frame but I kept edging closer until I could get head shots. This is why I wanted a full frame camera. My images are 36mp and this is cropped to 19mp. And it is still YUGE.

Great Blue Heron with a great fish Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/2000 sec f/8.0 ISO 1000

Great Blue Heron with a great fish
Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/2000
sec f/8.0 ISO 1000

And there was a spur of the moment trip because we heard it was foggy along the coast. Fog is strange to shoot in; it can be bright overcast where you are, but low visibility just 50-75 feet away. The Great Blue Heron was fishing under the bridge over the Intracoastal Canal and got some kind of strange mud fish. It is not a mullet, for sure. This is one of those Over-Bill's-Shoulder shots from the vehicle.

Peacock checking me out Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600 sec f/6.3 ISO 2000

Peacock checking me out
Nikon D810 with NIKKOR 500mm f/4E VR + Nikon 1.4x TC ~ 1/1600 sec f/6.3 ISO 2000

While wandering around the back roads of the West end of Galveston Island looking for hawks and Sandhill Cranes we found some nice Peacocks. There are several groups and one of the males was displaying and trying to impress the ladies. I couldn't get far enough away to get all his glory in the frame with the 500 f/4 and I didn't want to remove the teleconverter in case we did see some Sandhill Cranes fly over.

Hard at work! Photo by Cheryl Vance-Kiser, Coastal Creek Photography

Hard at work! Photo by Cheryl Vance-Kiser, Coastal Creek Photography

One day we ran into a friend, Cheryl Vance-Kiser at San Bernard and she snapped some photos of Bill and me in action! They were posted on FB but some of you aren't social at all and probably didn't see them. We have matching cameras, but I have the Nikon 500mm and Bill has the 600mm.

Foggy coast Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50 f/2.8 ~ 1/400 sec f/9.0 ISO 400

Foggy coast
Sony A77II with Sony DT 16-50 f/2.8 ~ 1/400 sec f/9.0 ISO 400

Here is a shot of how foggy it was that Saturday afternoon. This is the bridge at Surfside Jetty that crosses Quilty Cove. Or Guilty Cove. There is a sign, but it is hard to tell if the initial letter is a fancy Q or a funny G. It has a shallow area next to the road where we have seen Green Herons, Black-crowned Herons, Snowys, Great Blues, Spotted Sandpipers and even Clapper Rails.

Bill and I were discussing the usual photographer grousing and complaining that goes on in the internet forums, specifically the ones at DPReview. They have dedicated forums for brands and tasks and can be a good source of information and news. And even misinformation and rumors! He told me about a post where the Sony users were complaining about the lack of GPS capture in the new A99II camera and discussing the pros and cons. It does use a LOT of battery to write the location to each image, and there are some add-on gadgets that you can use. One of the upset posters said "How can you possibly remember where you took each photo without GPS?"

Directory structure out of Bridge

Directory structure out of Bridge

LOL. We pass by places all the time and discuss what we shot there. I have all my source images stored by Location and Date and can almost always tell where I took a photo. And I can find a specific set of photos fairly quickly. Oh, I have another folder on an external hard drive called Working where I have clips and backgrounds stored for composites and photo art images.

I suppose if you were traveling to strange places all the time the same system could work with Locations and sub-folders for "Museum" or "Cathedral". Or a folder called Family with sub-folders for each member's birthday, one for Christmas and so on.

Whatever system you use, you need to keep it up. Apply keywords, back up your work. Cull and delete bad photos. Storage is cheap, but it just wastes time and effort to keep blurry out of focus images.

How do you organize your photos? Do you use keywords? And how is your backup system? Starting a new year is a great time to start new habits. Let me know about your work flow in the comments below.

Spoonies at Surfside are Showing Signs...

Spoonies at Surfside are Showing Signs...

Stalking the Sandhill Cranes

Stalking the Sandhill Cranes