Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vermillion Flycatcher

A friend and I took a drive to Los Banos California last Tuesday to look for a vagrant bird called a "Vermillion Flycatcher". This bird is usually seen much farther Mexico South....and The Galapagos! To have a beautiful male of this species show up in Northern California is awesome! So we drove down from Galt and after an hour and a half found the area where he was hanging out. If the nice people who lived there hadn't told us where to go look for him, we never would've seen him! They pointed out the gate down the road so we drove down there and even far away that bird stood out! but, he ws still about 30 yards away. So we drove around looking for raptors and then decided to go back and see if he was closer to the gate. He was! Then he flew right in front of my car! Hence the photos you see here. spectacular day and a spectacular bird!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I wanted to talk a minute here about animal behavior and photography. Knowing what an animal is going to do or how they might behave is half the battle of getting a good photo or an awesome one. I attended a lecture by top nature/wildlife photographer George Lepp and he said "behavior, behavior, behavoir"...."know your subjects habits and be ready" I have been using this when photographing birds particularly. If you watch them long enough, you start to notice behavior patterns which are quite helpful in anticipating a moment and capturing that moment.

I started noticing this with the ducks at the local preserve I like to go to near my home. I noticed that when they started preening, they would dunk several times and then flap their wings. I started shooting fast when this occurred to try and catch it. I bumped my ISO to 800 and started shooting at 1/ worked...I got several worthwhile images including the one to the right here of a Green Winged Teal. These ducks are fast but knowing what they are going to do takes practice and observation!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Saving up....Saving up....

So I recently took a very good picture of a Harris's Sparrow and it got put on the front of the Central Valley Birding list for the month...I am very happy with that. Even thought I do get good photos...I know they can be better.
Better in terms of resolution and overall sucess rate with sharpness and detail. I experiment with different settings...shoot at a High ISO (400-800) and using a high shutter speed (1600-2000)..but I used to shoot at 200 ISO but had a lot of blurry photos. I wish I could afford a faster lens but those are soooo dang expensive. I doubt I would be able to afford one for a long while. Especially with all my current medical bills...sheesh.

I was looking at the Canon 500mm and the 600mm. I like the 600mm for the reach and would want to put a 1.4 extender on it. But it is a huge lens. I mainly shoot from my car...that would be the only way with this lens. I am looking at the Canon 100-400 too...might check that out a lens rental company and see how that works.  We'll see!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wish List

Most of my life I have been drawn to capturing animals on film and then digitally. I have often admired photographs in National Geographic and other magazines for their color saturation and sharpness...and I've discovered that most professional photographers used top of the line Canon or Nikon equipment. Having a job that does not pay on a scale where I could ever afford such lenses I resigned myself to making do with what I could afford. $1,000 to me is a lot...a lot...of money.  $6,000 o5 $10,000 is astronomical for someone like me. Canon just came out with a new (preorder) 500mm F4...that is incredible...but even those that can afford it are shuddering at the $10,000 price tag. If they are looking at it could I ever hope to afford one of these lenses? I have read all the reviews and opinions and the bottom line is...if I want the best possible photos I need the best possible lens..and this is it. But I know I can never afford it...if I had $10,000 I'd have save it....or soon get a car when mine breaks down...or just money to survive on since medical bills are currently eating me alive.

Truth is nothing brings me more joy that photography...but often my images are okay...but not, in my opinion, good enough to match other photographers out there who have far better equipment and more time...and probably feel better than I do at the moment. I wish Canon had some kind of Grant for people like me who could never afford one of their lenses otherwise. Even if I worked for another 5 years and put away as much as I could every year I could still never afford one of these lenses. It makes me sad...I don't play the lottery...maybe I should...unless I sold my images consistantly wich I don't...*sigh*....I guess to get the best equipment being rich helps....unfortunately I am not:-(

Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh Blah Dee, Oh Blah Da Life goes on Ahhhhh...

So I haven't been on here in a while...reason is I was diagnosed with Endrometrial Cancer which turned into more than that...which required surgery to removed everything that cancer invaded, which turned out to be more than my doctors first thought, which then requires me undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. How's that for a kick in the butt?

Just had my 2nd chemo treatment Friday and I feel like crap right appetite...tummy hurts...head hurts...more that tired. But...only 6 more treatments to go and that ought to be right around Christmas. What I really miss is not being able to go out and take pictures...this one I posted of the abandoned stone house I took last year on Jackson Valley Road off Highway 88. No energy to go out this year...hopefully all my energy comes back in February when I can go back to work! I miss the outdoors!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Owwww that hurts!

So last weekend I went out on my birding adventure like normal...had a great day. I drive slow around the refuge because that is when you see things other people miss. Also...pulling over and just sitting in a spot yeilds wonderful results. I tell people to use their cars like a blind...once you pull up somewhere you just sit and the little things comes scurrying back out as if you aren't there. To the left is a photo of a Sora Rail...these birds are very elusive and inhabit the dark recesses of a tule pond, only to be seen by those more patient than others. They move quick, one second they are there....another they are gone. I actually watched this one for quite a while as it fed in the shallows of the pond. Cute little guy. After the pond I moved on saw lots of Ducks, a Merganser, a Great Horned Owl and many of these guys below...Horned Larks. They are very pretty and very striking with their black and yellow. I wandered the roads a little more until sunset when I decided to go to a spot surrounded by water to get a nice sunset shot. The roads were fairly dry...but bouncy, with pothole after pothole filled with water and mud...I had to slow quite a bit to negotiate around these sometimes spine shattering holes...and just I was about to get to my destination the most horrible thing camera and lens mounted on my window pod mounted to the window, suddenly dropped off and crashed to the dirt road below. I was only going about 10 miles an hour was enough. I stopped, jumped out of the car and ran back to see my lens...detached from the camera.....all the computer ribbons sticking out and the computer board sticking out...the lens had come apart at the base...sheared off actually because the metal struts holding it to the mounting plate and just sheared fixing that...that has to go to the shop. I knelt there in the road surveying the damage and the sunset was very pretty...but...I could not enjoy it. I realized that in my newer RAV 4, the windows curve...they don't go straight across so the pod slipped down as I drove and was not actually holding onto much of the window. A hard lesson learned. I sent the lens to will cost $450 to fix it....I don't have that right now so I'll have to wait. So my photographing days are on hold right now while I figure out how to pay for my lens repair. I bought this lens used but it still set me back $900. I was only able to afford it several years ago after an end of year bonus. I don't get bonuses anymore so....but this lens was so worth is awesome and I love the shots I get with it. So....that's my sad story and yes, seeing that lens on the ground really hurt!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So that hawk I posted a pic of didn't make it...nor did this fellow who was rescued by my Supervising Keeper almost the next day. I think he'd been hit by a car too. Then this past sunday one of our Asian Elephants at PAWS, Rebecca, passed away...her hip and leg joints just gave out on her. So I think I'm done with sadness and animals leaving....I'm going on a trip this weekend so hopefully that will help.