Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Island Beach, NJ

The Island Beach state park is a beautiful place in summer. The beaches are pristine and serene. There is no commercialization of the place. What is really exciting is that I can drive my truck on the beach and park it on the sand, anchor a canopy or gazebo and relax under it on beach chairs. Many folks go fishing here and the beach is scattered with trucks and fishing rods.
The greenery is striking with many seaside plants and marshes around. There are trails for the adventurists. And the sunsets are absolutely fascinating on a clear day. There are many species of waterbirds here which migrate over here and there is an Osprey nest. Many seagull species, sandpipers, Cranes and Herons are found here besides the traditional NJ birds. Turtles are abundant during breeding season. An occasional seal may be seen. And there is a family of foxes for the brave to discover.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tulip Tree Silkmoth, 5/23/14

This is the 2nd day, the Tulip Tree Silkmoth remains parked outside my front door. This time, I wanted a frontal view to capture all the designs on its wings. I blew on it and it opened up partially for me to take a shot. I also used this opportunity to gauge the macro mode of my point & shoot new Panasonic Lumix DMC FX70K camera. Took this shot from less than 10" from the moth with the in-camera flash.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tulip Tree Silkmoth, 5/22/14

This Tulip tree Silkmoth has parked itself at my frontdoor as if to greet visitors. It has remained there, probably asleep for most of today and was first noticed by my son, who immediately informed me to take a photograph. So, I got out my macro lens and started shooting. The initial pictures were all under-exposed which perplexed me. On further prying, I found out that I had forgotten to change the -1EV flash comp. on the Nikon flash.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Point and Shoot Camera

Got a point and shoot camera, Panasonic Lumix DMC FX70K with a 60 X optical zoom which is 20mm to 1200mm. This is light weight and easy to carry on trips. But, need monopod or tripod for the extreme zoom. Also, need good light conditions for decent shots. The camera is 16 Megapixels and shoots RAW and has an electronic viewfinder, which I thought was essential. Now, I can shoot birds and other wildlife without getting too close to them. It will take some time to get used to all the features. Noise is an issue, even at ISO 320-400. The aperture priority mode is tricky as the shots are coming out overexposed and shutter times were slow. Maybe, I should have used shutter priority mode. The first few shots at 1200 mm zoom are below.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grey Catbird, 5/15/14.

Its been rain Catbirds, today. A flock of Catbirds have discovered the backyard and are romping around trying to grab the grub. This bird is called Catbird because it's chirping sounds like a meow. Actually, a lot of folks mistake the sound for the presence of a cat but cannot find one as the source. They appear friendly and will tolerate my presence around but do remain aloof. I think they look particular pretty when they fluff up, otherwise they maintain their lean figure and appear nondescript.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Turkey Vulture, 5/13/14/

A flock of Turkey Buzzards frequent the rooftop of my neighbor. They seem to like the perch at the chimney spout on the roof. Whenever, I spot them at their favorite spot, I grab my camera and run out for a shot. My challenge is to get close to them from my side of the fence and then to catch them mid flight, so I have my camera set to continuous burst mode. Also, I have to make sure that I set my exposure compensation up by 1.2 or so, otherwise, I miss the details in the shadows. The background is invariably the sky and the contrast appears to be a big problem. Shooting at lower ISOs is also a big issue because the shots need multiple edits and the noise level needs to be way low.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Male Ruby, 5/12/14.

It is quite a difficult job editing under-exposed Hummingbird shots. My one attempt at that to lighten up the shadows on a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Did go thro some multiple edits with presharpening, Viveza local adjustments and post-sharpening in Sharpener pro and final adjustments in Lightroom 5.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Blue Jay, 5/9/14.

The Blue Jay is known to be a beautiful but nasty bird with a temper. Birders stay away from the Blue Jays because of their nasty behavior in the sense that they bully the smaller birds and steal their chicks. A single Blue Jay resides in the trees behind the backyard and often hangs around the feeders. It does appear to be wary of me and scoots off on seeing me from a distance. But, it is slowly getting familiar with me and is permitting me to get closer for some shots.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Getting high on Hummingbirds!

The Hummingbird is such a fascinating small bird that just observing them sends a thrill up the happiness scale. They have now become familiar with me and do not appear to fear me while I click away. A few of them also buzz past me at close quarters and the hum rings in yr ears much like a bee buzzing and that sometime scares you. Watched them today chase each other and play around the flowers. Spent some time trying to set up external slave flashes so that I can photograph them with lower ISO settings as well as in poor ambient light. The flash did not work in my attempts today and I will try again tomorrow. Here are some of my recent clicks.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ruby Throated Hummingbird, 5/5/14.

Today was the first day the Hummingbirds came back this spring. Saw 3 of them, 2 males and a single female. They are literally smaller than the little finger and very difficult to photograph. You need to get very close for decent shots and the light has to be good. Exposure has to be spot on and shutter times at least 1/1000sec. They are fairly predictable once they start feeding and keep coming back to the feeder every 10-20mins. So, it is just a waiting game to get a few fast burst of shots once you catch them approaching the feeder.

The female Ruby Throated Hummingbird does not have a ruby throat.

The Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird appears more colorful with a ruby throat which is seen depending on the angle of the light reflections. In some views, the ruby throat cannot be seen or has a yellow-orange shade or sometimes just plain black.

Tufted Titmouse, 5/5/14.

A friendly small bird slightly larger than its cousin, the Chicadee. Recognized by the tuft on its crown and dark eyes as well as a subtle orange patch on its flank. Has a rather coarse cough like vocalization. It does appear to have temper and bullies the smaller Chicadee and sparrows.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Black Capped Chicadee, 5/4/14/

A real cute and friendly bird which is as small as a finger. It sneaks quietly to the feeder hiding in nearby low branches, steals a few seeds and then its back to it's hiding place. It allows me to get within 10 m and I can get a few quick shots. But, I have not had much success with catching it in flight because it is very fast.

Friday, May 2, 2014

In love with the Blue Jay! 5/2/14.

The Blue Jay is such a pretty bird. I am so glad, that I have one of them visiting the backyard and this is the 3rd day, I have noticed it. It is a little shy but is letting me approach it for a few decent shots. But, still have not gotten to the 10m range which I need for a great shot with the 500mm lens. Here is one of my pictures taken this morning. The light is not all that great today and shooting at ISO 1250 and hence, background is not clean. So, I did a little toning of the background in Lightroom and gave it a green tinge instead of the native dirty brown.

Spring Birds, 5/1/14.

Seeing a lot more birds flocking to the backyard at the bird feeders. The blue Jay is a new one for me this year and likes sunflower seeds. The Cardinals love the small mixed seeds as also the sunflower seeds. I will try feeding next with crushed corn seeds and see if the birds like that. Also, this season, I am placing a water container for the thirsty birds.