Monthly Archives: February 2015

Bird of the Week – Eastern Bluebird

bluebird1

The past two months have been fairly consistent in Connecticut – temperatures either below or well below freezing. There is almost no fresh water to be found that is not frozen, including the Connecticut River. It’s also been quite dreary and generally devoid of color except on the infrequent days of sun and clouds, yielding interesting sunsets. One tiny, but nice source of color has been the birds in my backyard. In particular, I have had a gang of about a dozen bluebirds that seem to arrive at the feeder a few times per day like clockwork. They appear, eat, and then disappear. Their color is welcome, as is their somewhat comical, paunchy look. I would describe them as borderline fat. I caught this one in a more flattering pose that makes it look a little less rotund. I enjoy seeing them each day with the bright color they bring. It won’t be too long until there are more signs of spring, although the ten day forecast never seems to indicate that it’s coming.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM + Extender EF 1.4x III
  • f/5.6, 1/2000 sec., ISO 800
  • Lens rested on an open window sill for support

Another Acadia Image

acadia2

This is my favorite image from the whirlwind tour of Acadia late last September. I had one chance at a sunset photo so I wanted to find a good location. My kids and I scouted this spot during the day and loved the many interesting and colorful rocks on the beach. When we returned late in the day, we were even happier as the tide had moved out, exposing even more rocks. I love the slight sheen created by the moisture on the surface of the rocks. It was an utterly cloudless sunset so the landscape/seascape had to play a starring role in the image. I am very pleased with the result.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 19mm, f/16, ISO 100, 30 secs.
  • Lee Filters 3-stop split Neutral Density filter with hard edge
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Bird of the Week – Hooded Merganser

hoodedmerganser

I have found Hooded Mergansers to be extremely skittish water fowl. So much so that whenever I have carefully approached ones that I have observed, they immediately turned tail and either paddled furiously away or have simply taken flight. If I try to insert myself into their environment and wait for them to approach, they never do. A few weeks ago, I was running errands on a particularly cold and overcast day and decided to take Route 146 from downtown Branford to Guilford (Connecticut) in the hopes of seeing something interesting to photograph. I was thinking in terms of scenery, not birds (I didn’t even have my “bird” camera body with me, the Canon EOS 7D). I drove over the bridge in the Branford River Gateway Scenic Area and was surprised to see a number of mergansers swimming by the bridge. I turned around and parked in the small “lot” and grabbed a camera with the 600mm lens. I stealthily crossed the street, hunkering down, and probably looking like a fool. I popped up over the bridge railing and snapped a few shots as the mergansers quickly swam away. This shot of a male was the best of the bunch. I know that many find them to be thoroughly ridiculous looking birds, but I find them to be almost regal.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM + Extender EF 1.4x III
  • f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 800

Bird of the Week – Rough-Legged Hawk

roughlegged-blog

About a month ago, the appearance of a Rough-Legged Hawk around the saltmarsh near the boat launch at the end of Circle Beach Road on the Madison/Guilford, CT border set the CT birding list aflutter. As I live fairly close, I made several trips down trying to obtain a quality image of this somewhat rare visitor, achieving mixed results on a rainy day and a cloudy day. With much cloudiness and cold temperatures, not to mention the common absence of the buteo, it was difficult to actually achieve my objective. However, on the afternoon of January 23rd, the stars aligned, with (relatively) moderate temperatures, sunshine, and the presence of the subject in question. I was able to capture many photos, although in flight shots were tough. Most of the aerobatics were with me and the other viewers under and behind the bird as it hovered and hunted over the marsh, netting two mice, which were very quickly consumed right on the spot. I was also able to capture some good portraits as it sat on a post for a Purple Marten house. This bird has been spotted in the intervening weeks, although I have been unable to get back down to try for more photos due to illness and the numerous storms that have passed through. However, I am happy to have been able to get this shot.

  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM + Extender EF 1.4x III
  • f/5.6, 1/2500 sec., ISO 640

Otter Point – Acadia National Park

otterpoint

During the whirlwind trip to Maine early last Fall, time was precious so I ended up trying to capture some images during the usually verboten time when the sun was high and contrast strong. It is generally difficult to obtain pleasing photographs during the middle of the day due to the harsh contrast created by the strong light from the high sun. However, since I was there, I was not going to be deterred by something like the light. While it was a challenge to find compositions that weren’t too influenced by the sun, there were a couple of opportunities. I like this one for a few reasons. I love how the rock formations lead you from the foreground out to the water. I like all of the various colors present in this image. Finally, because the image was composed from almost directly above, the sunlight actually helped it created definition in the rocks and generated some dark spaces on the sides of the rocks. I really like this image. Sometimes you need to ignore the rules and just take pictures. I used a Neutral Density filter to completely remove the presence of waves from the image and rather create soft white spaces.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 30mm, f/16, ISO 100, 45 secs.
  • Lee Filters Little Stopper 6-stop Neutral Density filter
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Bird of the Week – Green Heron

greeheron1

In my post about the juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, I mentioned that at the time I had been photographing a Green Heron, shown here. This Green Heron was on a log jutting out into the East River fewer than 100 yards south of the bridge by the parking area at the end of Bear House Hill Road. It was still early and there was barely any light on the scene (you can certainly see dark areas in the photo.) This heron moved around a few places while hunting, although I liked this pose on the log. The ripples in the river created an unusual backdrop. It’s certainly a handsome bird.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM
  • f/4.0, 1/1250 sec., ISO 800
  • Tripod employed

Wadsworth Falls

wadsworthfalls

This past Saturday morning, I took a ride up to Wadsworth Falls State Park. I thought that given the recent cold temperatures and snow, there might be some interesting photo opportunities. I did take some classic shots of the falls and Coginchaug River, but I feel more strongly about this particular image. I like the motion created by the slow shutter speed and the contrast of the motion against the sharp ice in the upper portion of the image. I am also happy with the way the image moves from the right to the left. Finally, I am drawn to the colors and the painterly effect of the water. Overall, this image made it worth enduring some very cold early morning temperatures on Saturday.

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 88mm, f/16, ISO 100, 1/6 sec.
  • Tripod and cable release employed