Saturday, December 1, 2012

Red in tooth and claw

Admittedly, the phrase is actually from a memorial poem from Tennyson to Arthur Henry Hallam. But a lot of people use the idea as nature in its rawest form.

This photo was taken in March, 2012.  It's a Red-shouldered hawk making very short work of a rat that it caught in Golden Gate Park.  Yes, much to everyone's surprise, there are rats in San Francisco. And there are an amazing array of wildlife that feed on those rats and other animals.  Quite a few are located in the park.

I bring this up because I was reading an article about where people go to look for photos.  I've always been an advocate of 2 things, go back to places you've been to before, and get the camera you're willing to carry around.

Going back - When I was offered the job at Industrial Light and Magic, it meant I had to move to San Francisco. It's had good and bad points. The good is the discovery I have made (to myself, many people knew this already) of the amazing photo opportunities in the area. Because I am only a mile from the park, I am able to return to it and get to know it better.  We were able to learn some of the signs to look for.  The reason we found this hawk when we did was we noticed the racket the Jays were making, the sign that they were not at all happy something was around.  Using the Jays to guide us, we found this hawk.

If we didn't know about the Jays, we would not have found the hawk, and been able to watch this display of "red in tooth and claw".

Saturday, November 24, 2012

water in the air.

I fly a 1946 Stinson 108, also called a Voyager.  It's fairly good for taking aerial photos, and I have been flying between Petaluma and Watsonville recently.  However, I am now experience what water in the air will do to photos. 

I fly south in the morning, and this means the sun is toward the east and  pretty much in my larger field of view.  What happens is the light refracts through the water and turns the image blue. This is the same thing that happens to make the sky blue.  When I am coming home during the afternoon, the sun is behind my view, so the light is not as refracted and you get the normal looking skylines.

A polarizer might help, I'll have to try that some time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nik Software

Nik Software, now owned by Google, puts out a series of filter packages for Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and others. I purchased the entire set because I wanted two of the packages (HDR Efx Pro 2and Color Efx Pro 2), and it wasn't that much more to get the rest in a bundle for Lightroom. So I have been playing around a bit with some of the other filter packages.

This is Silver Efx Pro, which allows you to make adjustments to transform color images into black and white.  I know that the same could be done within lightroom if you're willing to play around with trying to get what you want, but it's nice to be able to quickly scan through several options and then choose one that you make adjustments too. It allows much more flexibility.

This photo was taken in Golden Gate Park, at the Botanical Gardens.  The Egret didn't seem to mind having a lot of people around, and the small boy was fascinated.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One shot

With todays fast cameras, it almost is too easy to get a good shot.  The camera I use, a Canon 7D, will shoot 8 frames per second in raw mode, for 3 second bursts until it has to slow down and write out to the memory card (see Firmware upgrade at Canon's site. Using that, you can shoot lots of images and one of them will look good.  However, sometimes thinking about where you want to be, and what you want to show can allow for a more unique image.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
The Space Shuttle Endeavor flew over San Francisco on its way to Southern California.  I wanted to photograph the shuttle against a well known San Francisco landmark, but I knew that everyone would be choosing the Golden Gate Bridge.  There are some amazing shots out there of that combination.

I decided on the Palace of Fine Arts and Alcatraz.  I knew where I could get a shot with both of those, and if I was lucky I would be able to get the shuttle in there as well.  It depended on how they flew around the bay.

Arriving early, I set up a tripod and my camera with the 100-400 mm lens, in portrait mode.  Then it was just a matter of waiting.

While I didn't get the larger number of photos other did, I did get the photo I wanted.  Next comes the typical adjustments in the "darkroom".

Photo info: 1/2000 sec, f/11.0, 115 mm, ISO 800.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Right place, right time.

Red Shouldered Hawk and rat.
I am often asked "what camera equipment should I buy?"  My answer is usually "buy something you will use."  I know it sounds glib, but many people I know don't really want to carry around 4000 in camera equipment (which is the sum of the equipment used to take this photo).   I also usually follow that up with an admonition to learn how to use the equipment.

This red-shouldered hawk landed near us as we were walking around North Lake in San Francisco.  We only saw a flash of movement at first, but based on the loud screeching by the jays, we knew something was around. We went slowly to the bridge and spotted him (I don't know it is a he, but for convenience I will call it he).

We moved fairly quietly and slowly until I could get a good shot without branches in the way. At that point in time, the hawk was facing away from us, but due to the pestering of the jays it turned to face us. That allowed a couple of good shots.

Finally a squirrel ran out to chase the hawk away and it landed further on a tree.  I was able to get some good photos of rat nomming, but this is probably my favorite.

1/125s f/8.0 at 260.0mm iso3200