Thursday, October 24, 2019

Early Morning Walks and Backyard Macro Photography

Jumping Spider
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 1000, f/8 @ 1/180s Manual exposure
Two weekends ago turned out to be a photogenic weekend. I did not get a chance to upload the photographs. On Saturday, I stayed home and took a lot of pictures in my yard. I managed a few good photos. I was mostly trying to photograph using my macro lens, but I was not having to much luck. I did manage one photograph of a weed in the garden that had gone to seed. One seed was sitting atop the plume of other seeds. I just loved the way the photo turned out.  I was pleased with the way the light hit off the curves in the seed, and with the composition of the picture.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 100, f/2.8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
After about an hour, I was lurking around our shed, looking for spiders. That is when I looked down and was amazed to find a little jumping spider just hanging out on a plant pot. I did my best to photograph it, and I was delighted with the result. It is the best jumping spider photograph that I have ever taken. There are things that I could improve on. But I was excited when I saw a few of the photos. I could not believe how amazing these little spiders are. I was just stunned to see the beautiful orange colors around his eyes. I also liked the way that the background turned out in the one photograph because the light from my flash made round speckles in the background of the spider when it hit off the plastic of the container. I just really loved this photograph.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Canon 24-105 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 Lens, ISO 50, f/13 @ 1/10 sec Manual exposure
That Sunday, I decided I would get up before dawn and go out to the nearby reservoir to try and photograph the fall foliage. It was a somewhat foggy day, and I was only happy with one photograph that I took. The colors were stunning, but I did not capture many pictures that I was pleased with. However, when the sun was rising, I saw a patch of high weeds that were shining in the morning light. So I decided I would try and capture it. I laid on my stomach in the tall grass and pointed the camera directly at the sun. I loved the color and the contrast that I was able to capture, and I was quite surprised by the way the photos turned out. It was worth laying in the grass for the shot.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Canon 24-105 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 Lens, ISO 50, f/13 @ 1/60 sec Manual exposure
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Canon 24-105 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 Lens, ISO 50, f/13 @ 1/60 sec Manual exposure
Overall the weekend went well. But last weekend, I did not get a chance to photograph anything. I am planning a trip to a friend's farm tomorrow and Saturday. I am hoping that I will get plenty of photographs to share.  I look forward to the next time. I hope everyone enjoys the photos.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Bashakill Wetlands and Mongaup River

Mongaup River
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Canon 24-105 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 Lens, ISO 50, f/32 @ 4 sec Manual exposure
Last weekend I spent Saturday evening on a trail along the Mongaup River. I was trying to photograph the fall scenery as well as anything else in the woodland. I started by taking photographs of the Mongaup River, trying to capture the fall colors and some motion blur. The photo is more of a water motion blur photograph than a typical fall color photograph, but I was happy with it. Towards the end of the evening, I sat on a rock along the river and watched the sun go down behind the trees. The beautiful yellow rays of light were coming in through the trees, but I was unable to capture the true essence of the scene I was seeing.

Mushroom Close up
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Canon 24-105 mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 Lens, ISO 1600, f/5.6 @ 1/60 sec. Manual exposure
I was also very fortunate to find one lone mushroom on a log that I was able to photograph. I also liked the way that the photo turned out. I have not done much mushroom photography, but I think that I will try it more in the future.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1250, f/6.3 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Sunday morning, it was a much darker dreary day. It was supposed to rain, and I wanted to get out before it started. So I went out to the Bashakill Wetlands at about 7 am.  I walked the stop sign trail where I had photographed the egrets the week before, hoping that I would see them again. I made it to the place where the egrets were, but they were not there. I decided that I would sit on the raised platform like the previous week, and wait to see what I could find. It was very peaceful because I did not see any other person at the Bashakill that morning. I think the weather kept everyone away. After about an hour sitting in the raised stand, I heard a Great Blue Heron. It came flying in and landed in front of me. I was lucky enough to capture a few photographs of it coming in. Then it actively was fishing in front of me for a while. I was unable to use my 1.4x teleconverter because of the lighting situation. But my Sigma 150-600 did an excellent job without it. It was fun watching the Heron fish for a while. Then I realized that it was getting agitated by something. Then I noticed something else behind the Heron in my viewfinder.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1250, f/6.3 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Initially I thought it was a muskrat or beaver. But after looking closer at the picture, I realized it was some river otters. They seemed to be fishing in the same spot as the Heron. The one photograph shows the Heron staring right at the river otters. I had not seen river otters at the Bashakill before so, it was a great treat. I had sat in the stand for about 3 hours, and mother nature rewarded me for being patient. Even though it was a dark overcast morning, it turned out to be a great day. At around 11 am, it started raining, and I decided to call it a day.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1250, f/6.3 @ 1/400s Manual exposure

Overall last weekend turned out great, and I look forward to spending some more fall weekends taking photographs. Until Next Time.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1250, f/6.3 @ 1/400s Manual exposure

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bashakill Wetlands: Spiders and Great Egrets

Great Egret 1
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 100, f/9 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Last weekend I spent several days at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. Saturday was mostly an uneventful evening. I was there for about five hours and had nothing to show for it. I spent a lot of my time walking the trails and sitting waiting for something to come along. I was even there to watch the sunset. But it still was not a great day.

Red Spider
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 640, f/8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Several times when I thought I was going to get a chance at some wildlife action, people would always walk by. On the long trail, I thought I was alone, and I was trying to photograph some dragonflies and small birds when all of a sudden, a man on a bike with a dog came upon me. After they passed, I did not see anything more. So I walked back to my car and moved to a place where I thought I would be alone and would be able to watch the sunset on the marsh. I had been sitting in one place for about an hour alone. I was watching plenty of wood ducks fly by, but nothing came close enough. Then out of the blue, another group with a dog came upon me. They were startled because I was sitting still and they didn't see me until they were on top of me. It just was so frustrating that people kept finding me because after they start talking and making noise, nothing is going to come bye. So, I decided to pack it in for the night with the sun completely down.

Spider Web Droplets
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 160, f/8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
The next morning my brother joined me, and we went back to the Bashakill. We arrived quite early, and there were a lot fewer people there. We started at the boat launch, and I was hoping that I would be able to photograph some migratory birds. Once I got out of the car, I realized that I was targeting the wrong animal. So I changed lenses to my Tamron 90mm Macro lens. In the bushes, there were a ton of spider webs with the morning dew in them. So I started taking pictures of them. Then I found one web with a spider in it. I am not sure what species it is, but it was a beautiful red color. I don't think I have ever photographed spider webs with dew in them, but I enjoyed a couple of the photographs that I managed.

After a while, we decided to move. My brother took me to a trail that was probably much less traveled. The grass was much higher, and there was not much of a path. Branches were impeding the tiny trail, and we had to duck and dodge to get through. But at the end of the trail, it comes to a section of the long path. To my amazement, when we stepped out on the long path trail, there were three Great Egrets in the marsh in front of us. I decided that they were a bit too far away after taking some initial photographs, so I put on my Sigma 1.4x teleconverter with my Sigma 150-600mm lens.

Great Egret 2
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 125, f/9 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Then we moved up the trail a bit and proceeded into one of the stands at the Bashakill. So, I was about 15 feet up in the air, which is not ideal, but it was better than being behind the dense brush. I decided to use exposure compensation of -1 to help not blow out the white bodies of the Great Egrets. It was the first time that I had ever done this. It worked out great. I managed to take probably a hundred or so photographs. I always seem to take more than needed to make sure they are coming out. It was approaching midday by the time we came upon the egrets, and they were not doing too much. It was thrilling to see them, because I don't see them often in my area, and I have never been able to pull off a photograph of them. In the past, I would always overexpose them. I was thrilled that I had finally captured some pictures of them.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 100, f/9 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Overall the trips to the Bashakill were a success, but it took a lot of effort. I guess patience finally paid off, and maybe a little bit of luck. I look forward to the next adventure. I hope everyone enjoys the photographs. Until next time.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Going Through My Photographs

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 100, f/4 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Over the last couple of weeks I have not had much opportunity to get out and take any photographs.  I have been getting home after dark most days and I have not spent a lot of time out in the wilderness.  I am hoping that tomorrow will be a good day, and I will be able to get out and enjoy the day, before heading back to work on Monday.

Since I have not taken many photographs lately, I decided to go through some of my photographs from earlier this year.  I found some that I was pleased with.  I am not sure why I didn't share them sooner.

While going through the pictures I found a Macro photograph of a dragonfly that I really liked.  It was really close up.  I wish that I had not cut off the rest of the tail, but I really like the way the wings are out of focus and lead your eye up to the right.  Also the wings have reflections of the beautiful yellow colors from the body of the dragonfly.  The green background being very out of focus also lends well to keeping the dragonfly as the clear subject of the image.  I just love Macro photographs of dragonflies.  It gives a perspective of a beautiful insect that most people don't get to see, and it brings out all the little hairs and every little detail. 

Canadian Geese Family
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1600, f/6.3 @ 1/500s Manual exposure
The photograph of the geese family was taken on a lovely spring day at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area near Wurtsboro New York.  I was laying on the ground when I took the photograph.  The geese were slowly walking up the trail in front of me.  I don't know what it is about this photograph but I really enjoy looking at it.  I love the way the grasses and brush just frame them.  The only thing that I think could improve the photograph is if they were facing me.

Painted Turtle
Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Sigma 150 - 600mm f/5- f/6.3, ISO 1250, f/6.3 @ 1/500s Manual exposure
A little later on during the same trip I came upon a painted turtle just basking in the sun.  Again I tried to get down as low as I could to try and get a different angle then I normally photograph at.  I did have a hard time focusing on the turtle's head.  Even in this photograph the focus was more on the shell.  But the blades of grass were coming up and making it hard to focus.  I love the shallow depth of field because it makes the turtle stand out in its environment.  It just could have been a little better if the focus was perfect.  But I still like the shot.

I think for the time being my best chances are probably going to be photographing a lot of macro insects and amphibians.  Also very soon the ducks and waterfowl will be migrating.  It may already be starting.  Then once the winter sets in I will probably spend a lot of my time photographing bald eagles.  I really can't wait to test my new camera and lens combo on flying birds of prey.  Until next time. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Trip to the Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 400, f/2.8 @ 1/250s Manual exposure
Since my last post the Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider's have disappeared.  I am not sure if they just moved or if they are no longer alive.  It has been getting quite cold here at night and I am not sure what they do for the winter.  The trees are starting to change color already here and it just seems very early to me.
Yesterday I took a trip with my brother to Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area to see if we could catch any bass.  I brought my camera along in case I had any opportunities.  I have seen a lot of bear's there and I never have my camera.  The fishing was extremely disappointing.  We did not even have a bite.  Over the past few years it seems like this once great fishing hole has been completely over fished.  It is saddening to me.  I have very fond memories of fishing off the spill way, catching small catfish and bass.  I have not seen a catfish in there in several years, and the bass fishing has steadily declined also.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 400, f/2.8 @ 1/250s Manual exposure
It was around 60 degrees or so when we got to the lake and there were a large number of bull frogs along the water.  I must have seen about 10 or so without really looking for them.  They just seemed to be every couple of feet.  Just sitting and waiting for it to warm up.  I did manage to take some photographs of them and I will post the one that I liked the most.  The photograph turned out to be a very high contrast image and I liked the way it turned out.  I also turned it into a black and white image and I actually like it better than the colored version.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 1600, f/16 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
Also while fishing I came across a branch full of caterpillars.  I am not sure what species they were. They may have been an invasive species,  but I really had no clue what species they were.  What I found really interesting was when you tapped the branch that they were on they would go from docile into a weird defensive stance all at once.  It was like they were one being.  They curled up into S shapes and stuck there legs out.  I figure they were doing it to ward off predators, but I had never seen anything like it before.  I did take a short video of it but I have not taken the time to look at it yet. I had a pesky yellow jacket who would not leave me alone while I was trying to photograph them, so I only took about 20 or so images.  All the photographs were taken with the Tamron 90 mm macro.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II & Tamron 90 mm Macro Lens, ISO 100, f/2.8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure
We did not see any bears this time around but we did see about a 200 pound Black Bear on the way home.  It was attempting to cross the road but it decided to turn around and run back into the woods.  I did not manage a photograph of it, and it vanished back into the brush.  Hopefully soon I will get a chance to photograph a bear.  I really had high hopes of photographing Brown Bears in Alaska and I think missing out on that opportunity has me really hoping to at least photograph Black Bears at home.

I have been very busy lately.  Last week I started to teach a college class in C++ programming, in addition to my full time job at the college.  So I have been spending a lot of hours at the college.  But labor day weekend finally gave me an opportunity to spend some time out enjoying the wilderness.  I am hoping I will get to spend some more time out soon, and winter will probably be here before I know it.  I cannot wait to really test my sigma 150-600 mm lens on bald eagles.  It should be a lot of fun this year.  Until Next Time.