Saturday

I wanted to go to the same place, on two consecutive days, at almost the same times, to see what kind of pictures are there for the taking.  So off I went to Huntley Meadows last Saturday and Sunday.  Yes, more bird pictures.

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A goose is a bird

On Friday night, I made up my mind to wake up early and take a walk at Huntley Meadows.  It’s been a while since I spent a few hours at Huntley.  Spring went quickly and the summer heat is oppressive.  The birds are most active in the early part of the day.

I’ve been using my Sony RX10IV for most of my photography lately.  This is a great camera.  It’s light enough to carry everywhere and it has an incredibly useful zoom range and good built in image stabilization.  Where I used to carry a tripod and a long zoom into Huntley, I just carry the RX10IV and shoot away.  It’s very liberating.

One thing about the setup that I find indispensable.  Without the tripod, you try out different angles on the same subject.  Not that you can’t do that with a tripod mounted camera, but it’s a much faster process when you use a handheld camera with a nice lens that you know can do what you want it to do.

What I really wanted to do is shoot bird pictures.  Alas, although I got up before daybreak, I hesitated long enough (about going out in the heat) that by the time I did get to Huntley, the sun had been out for almost an hour and a half.  Not great.  And so, the birds that I hoped to see were not in view (they were probably there, I just could not find them).  There were ospreys flying and diving, but they were never close enough to get good pictures of them diving.  There were herons that stood on the water, but they were just lounging around.  There were egrets, further still, also lounging around.  A bluebird sang then went into its nest.  Birds aplenty?  Yes.  The early bird gets the worm is a saying that applies to humans, especially bird photographers.  The early guy with the camera gets the birds.

Still, there was a goose that wandered into close proximity.  And with its partner, flew up into the sky in an opportune moment.  I was tracking an osprey, but saw the two large birds in the periphery of the scene, turned around and pressed the shutter button.  The RX10IV has a great AF system.  It focuses quickly and tracks the subject quite well.  Not quite as good as the top of the line Sony A9, but that’s a bigger camera and the lens I want to use with it won’t be out till next month.  And if someone wants to give me that lens, well, I’d take a picture for you.

And that’s how I managed to get a decent goose in flight picture.  Born of frustration, but given an opportunity to do something unplanned.  Sometimes (actually, most of the time), opportunity knocks.  You just need to listen for the sometime faint sound (or in this case, a momentary rush at the edge of the viewfinder).  You never know what’s out there.  And that’s a good thing.

And there were other things aside from birds.  I almost got sunburned staying out too long.  And didn’t bring enough water.  Still, it was a nice morning to sweat.  Take pictures.  And be inspired.

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So go out there.  Take a walk.  Be surprised.  And let nature rejuvenate your mind and soul.

Balance

In the wee hours of the morning, after another restless and near sleepless evening, I started listening to music.  The notes played on and then I suddenly realized that at that moment, I wasn’t really in the room.  My mind had wandered back in time, remembering a time when family members who are but a memory were still breathing the same air that I breathed.  And in that moment, I found myself wondering.  What is really important in my life?  And in nearly the same instant, I thought about the people who are forever part of me.  I didn’t remember the clothes they wore.  Or the places we have been.  I thought about how much I was loved.  And how this feeling that never goes away always brings balance back into my life.

I was taught so many things by a great many people.  The most important lessons were not imparted with words, but through actions, through example.  Kindness is not optional, even when it is difficult to give.  Respect other people, even when you don’t agree with them.  Be generous to others, for what you have, even if earned, is a gift given to you, not to be hoarded, but to be shared.  Speak the truth always, but never harshly.

And then the present, or the near present, came back to me.  Sometimes, just seeing and being with someone is enough.  Your heart always finds a way to tell you what it feels.  And in the music, joyful and hopeful as the dawning of a new day, I remembered the thing that gives life to a life.  Love.  A gift, a treasure.  A memory?  Sometimes.  Transient?  Not when it is true.

Unopened Folder

I was browsing through my computer in search of pictures I can use for a new blog posting.  I noticed a folder that hasn’t been opened in a year.  A year old, untouched, pictures unprocessed – what was inside the folder?  A quick glance reminded me that I was at Huntley Meadows that August day.  In search of birds (probably hummingbirds).  I vaguely remember that after a few hours of August humidity and heat, I went home.  I copied the pictures to my hard drive and did nothing else with them.  Until today.

Browsing through the photographs, I see pictures of hummingbirds.  And dragonflies, butterflies, herons and goldfinches.  Remember the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, when the Ark of the Covenant is placed in a crate and stored in what seems like a never ending warehouse of similar looking crates?  Well, that crate among crates seems like an apt metaphor for all the folders sitting inside my computer.  They all look the same, but they are all different.  I am not claiming to have found the Ark, but I did find some interesting pictures.

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Classic Subject, Vintage Lens

Over the weekend, a very nice lady gave me an old Minolta Rokkor-TC 135mm f4 lens.  This lens is over five decades old.  It was a sunny day yesterday, so it was a good opportunity to test the lens on a classic subject.  It was off to Meadowlark Gardens for a quick lunchtime photo session.  The lens was attached to a modern Sony APS-C mirrorless camera.  Some pictures.

The lens is lacking in contrast compared to modern lenses; this is most noticeable when there is strong backlighting in the image. Focus peaking works quite well and the ability to magnify the area that I am focusing on is very helpful; unfortunately, I was concerned that the butterfly would fly away before I achieved optimum focus on the subject, so I some of the images are not as sharp as they could have been.

The images were sharpened, contrast added, vibrancy and saturation tweaked, and in the case of the featured image, I deleted “unnecessary” objects from the picture to isolate the flowers and butterflies.  I also had to extensively blur the backgrounds on the featured image and on the last image in the set.  Still, the lens is quite nice.  I am looking forward to using this lens for portraiture – it will probably great for that.

The old lenses are certainly worth trying out.  And as the 135mm f4 Rokkor-TC shows, they will be useful tools for decades to come.

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Seven is a Lucky Number

On the seventh day of the seventh month in the seventeenth year of this century (okay, the 7 stuff breaks down on the fourth descriptor), I was fortunate enough to have my camera and macro lens at Meadowlark Gardens.  Some of the best macro images I took over the summer (and in the last few years) were taken that day.  Moth or butterfly?  Beautiful either way.

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How often do you get a bee “facing off” “against” a moth (second image)?  Or two bugs sitting on a beautiful flower filled stem (first image)?  Or have a moth willing to have a lens close enough to see elements in its eye (third image)?