More Flying Flies

I found a pair of   Four-spotted Aphid Flies (Dioprosopa clavata) in  a mating flight at a pond near the intersection of Marion and Ponce De Leon Blvd in Punta Gorda.  It’s actually a nectar eater as an adult but it lays it’s eggs near aphids and their larvae prey on the aphids.B2W2DSC_6150c - Dioprosopa clavata

They are small (about 1/2 inch) and I needed to use manual focus to keep the camera from jumping to another subject.  Since they were moving, I’m quite happy to have gotten two shots that are halfway decent and this is the best of those two.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid there are going to be more aggressive mosquito control measures with the Zika Virus scare so we may be losing more of these beneficial insects.

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Catching a fly flying

This is a Dolichopodidae, also known as a Long-legged Fly.  There are over 137 species of them in Florida and  18 of those have only been found here.  They are very small.  Less than a 1/4 inch and even less than 1 millimeter.  You will see them flitting about everywhere.

They are carnivorous and eat even smaller flies (think no-see-ums).  They will often return to a preferred, predictable observation spot when feeding.  When they take off, they leap backwards and I noticed they did so every time I clicked the shutter.  I expect it was reacting to the movement of the lens and iris.

For this picture, I set the focus point on the edge of the leaf to the right and waited for a fly to return to the leaf.  I set the camera for a fast series and started shooting.  Eventually, I found a couple worth keeping.

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Fading Tulips

We had a pot of Tulips decorating the house but, as all flower do, they began to fade and wilt.  There are some potted plants that do well here in SW Florida but tulips aren’t one of them without a lot of care.  So, they were off to the horticultural recycling bin.  As I took them out though, the texture of the wilting leaves caught my eye and I decided to take a few shots.  I had the Nikkor 70-300mm VR on the camera so I just picked it up, put the pot on a ledge with grass and plants in shadow and took a series of images.

Here is how they turned out.

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A Better Day at the Rookery

My camera club had a followup visit to the Venice Rookery last Tuesday.  It was a much, much better morning for shooting with plenty of activity on the island and the surrounding area.  The hard part wasn’t what to shoot but deciding what to set up for.  The range of plumage colors from the deep black of an Anhinga through the middle greys of the Great Blue Heron to the pure white of a Great Egret certainly kept my EV control finger busy.

The Anhinga below was shot at 0.0 EV with a Nikon V2 with the 70-300mm CX lens and still managed some feather detail  in the dark areas.

I switched to the D750 with 70-200mm VR (Mk 1) and TC-17E II and the Great Egret needed -1.67 EV to keep from blowing out highlights.  The Great Blue Heron was shot at the same -1.67 but needed a bit of brightening in post processing.

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Just another wonderful morning in paradise:)

 

 

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A Foggy Morning at the Venice Rookery

My camera club had a field trip to the Venice Rookery  this morning.  It was set up primarily to have a learning session for the many folks using the Canon Powershot SX40, 50 and 60 bridge cameras.  I’ve seen some impressive result with them but prefer sticking with Nikon for a common user interface.

 

I went along just to be sociable and because I hadn’t been to the rookery for a while.  It turned out to be a foggy morning when I arrived at about 8:00 AM and it was just beginning to clear when I left at about 10.   Still, I took a few shots to capture the mood.

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I was disappointed to find that the island had suffered some damage.  As you can see from the first shot some of the larger trees have been damaged.  It is still mostly Brazilian Pepper and there are still plenty of places to nest.

The last image shows a young Great Blue Heron on the right getting fed by an adult.

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A discovery

I almost always shoot in raw and have experimented with HDR processing on the computer.  I’ve never really like the results I got.  It always looked too artificial and the developers seemed to create a look I didn’t like.  I played with sliders and parameters and decided it wasn’t worth the effort and continued to use Capture NX2 for my post processing of raw files.

The other day I made a discovery.  I had noticed that there was a menu item for HDR shooting but it was always greyed out as unavailable due to some other parameter I had set.  The messages were never very clear on exactly what was wrong.  The other day I discovered that you can’t shoot in-camera HDR with raw output set.

So, I went to jpeg fine only and the Raw shooting suddenly became available.  I tried it out and was very pleased with the results.  Instead of the harsh, almost garish results I was getting out of software I suddenly had exactly what I wanted, an image that looked like it was nicely exposed in both light and shadow areas.

My first experiment was straight out the back door to a house that was backlit with bright clouds in the sky.

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I was really impressed so I went to the local history park where I knew there was another problematic lighting situation.  Here, I had a frame of branches casting shadows and intermediate area of bright sunshine with a house and foliage in the background.

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This worked exactly as I wanted too!

My camera is definitely smarter than I thought it was and a better post-processor too.

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Catch and Release – Great Blue Heron Style

I went out for an afternoon walk yesterday.  I took my Nikon V2 and 70-300mm CX along just-in-case because hot afternoons are usually slow times for nature shooting.  But, I was wrong.  When I crossed the last bridge towards Ponce de Leon Park I notice a few birds in the retention pond past the Vivante gate.  I was surprised to find our feathered friends in abundance and partaking of a Florida Hot Afternoon Delight – hangin’ at the pool.  Here are a couple of shots.  Just click on them for a larger view.

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It isn’t often you see an Osprey in the wading pool with other birds.

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A Cormorant was having a fine time splashing about while a Little Blue Heron stalked the edge.

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Juvenile White Ibis were also feeding.  But the most unusual behavior I saw was a Great Blue Heron practicing Catch and Release fishing.  Pretty odd for a big bird that needs to eat a lot.  It took a while before I figured it out.  There was an immature Great Blue a little bit away.  It was cooling off by squatting down in the water.  Maybe it was playing at being a duck.  A little way closer was the parent catching fish.

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I think the parent was trying to teach the young one to catch fish.  It would first catch a small fish and then squash it a bit in it’s beak then it would drop it into the water and catch it again.  The young one just sat there watching.

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After the parent had disabled a couple of fish it continued to walk around ‘fishing’ only in this case it was merely demonstrating the strike since it was happily catching and releasing small sticks while the young’un watched.

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It was a certainly a pleasant half hour to stand by the pond.

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