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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Puerto Chacabuco, Chile – Mountains and Sea

A few from Puerto Chacabuco the trip to the town was through the Chilean Fjords and they were spectacular.

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And finally the town.

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Puerto Montt, Chile – Volcan Osorno

This was taken on a day trip out from the Zanndam to a ski area on Volcan Osorno.  We had the option of walking or taking the lifts.  Since we were stopped for an hour and the ski lift was a half hour ride each way, I elected to walk around and up the mountain looking for some decent shots.  Most of it was just views out over the lakes area but when I turned and looked up the mountain I found that I had walked nearly to the end of the first lift and I could see those who rode.  The snow cap on the mountain made for an interesting silhouette.

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While I like this shot, it doesn’t really show the slope of the mountain the way it shows up with a slightly different view.

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A few more white cliffs

Apologies for not keeping up with this for a while but sometimes life gets in the way.  I’ve been busy on a couple of other projects and doing some more traveling.  One of those trips took us along the Antarctic Peninsula where we found other whiter and colder cliffs.

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This trip was on Holland-America’s Zaandam from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina with stops in Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, Punta Arenas, Ishuaia, Stanley, Falkland Islands, and Montevideo Uruguay.  Nineteen days of pleasant travel and wonderful sights to see.

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Dover, the White Cliffs and the Castle

Our cruise left Dover in Kent UK.  Since everyone has heard of the white cliffs of Dover (Bluebirds over and all that) I was looking forward to getting some pictures.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those photo things where one time of day is better than another.  In our case, we departed fairly early in the afternoon and the light was a bit dull.  I did get a nice shot of the castle and the beach from our verandah.

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As we left I was hoping for better shots of the cliffs but they were predominantly in shadow so these are the best I could do.

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This one gives you a sense of scale for the cliffs.  I’m not exactly sure where the above shot was taken but I think it was just a bit north of the South Foreland Light seen below.  This was the first lighthouse in the world to use an electric light.

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That’s interesting because I used to live near the first lighthouse in the world to be powered by it’s own nuclear reactor!  It was also know as ‘L’ mark to the Magothy River Sailing Association.

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