Saturday, November 24, 2012

Macro magic

I did a radical thing this afternoon. I took of my big lens and replaced it with a macro. Macro photography is not something I have done very much of, and when I have, I have generally used my 70-300 zoom lens to achieve it. Every time I picked up my macro lens I got frustrated with the results. So for about four years now it has sat untouched, except when I have lent it to others.

Now, I have decided it is time to revisit the macro. I know a bit more about my camera now and how to achieve the results I want. Google tells me where the sweet spot is on my lens and a recent workshop at the PSNZ regional convention gave me the idea. These images are not so much about recording nature as they are about creating art using nature as a tool.

These images were achieved with coloured plastic and dandelion seeds and a whole lot of guesswork. I am really happy with the results and will be trying lots of new things now that I have worked out how to make the camera do what I want.

Royal Spoonbills at Petone

I went looking for the tui again at Petone Estuary last night. I like the spot there for them because the light is behind me and illuminates the tui feathers beautifully at that time of day. Alas they were no where to be seen. The tide was on its way out and there was a white-faced heron mooching about but he wasn't doing anything exciting. I wandered about for a bit before hubby asked "what are those white birds over there?"

I knew in an instant what they were and was very keen to get 'over there'. Unfortunately that would have involved wading out in the water so I had to make do with some long distance shots of the two Royal Spoonbills that were casually feeding in the shallow water. They certainly did look very regal in their breeding plumage.

One of the bird took flight and headed over the other side of the estuary. I managed to capture one shot as it left. I wasn't ready for it to be flying however as the second one was still there I quickly flicked settings on the camera and when it took off too (as I knew it would), I clicked away with a smile.

With the sun shining directly on the white birds it was extremely hard not to get the whites to blow out, especially as I was shooting from such a distance. While the resulting images are cropped, I am happy with the outcome. Next time I might just have to find a dingy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A bit of fun

Sometimes it is not about taking a great photo, it is just about recording the moment. This afternoon the sun was so bright that any photo of took of the birds in the back yard was almost certain to be a silhouette, so there wasn't much point in trying. Then the birds decided it was bath time and I just couldn't resist. None of these photos are technically correct, or even close for that matter but they are fun to look at and that is what counts.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More from yesterday...

We arrived at low tide and everything was green! Not what I am used to seeing at low tide, usually it is a muddy brown wet sand look. I don't know what has caused it but there has been a sudden growth of all things green under the water and come low tide it is like a green carpet.

All the weed was causing the white-faced heron some trouble as it searched for food in the shallow pools. Usually stirring up the sand will reveal dinner but this time it was dinner with greens! It didn't stop the heron from actually finding something to eat, but you could see it was struggling a bit more than normal.

The swans on the other hand like the weed and there was a good number of them out in the distance nibbling away at it. Must have looked like a banquet to them! Still nothing could entice me away from the tui in the flax bush once I had found them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tui Time

I have been going a bit stir crazy staying at home so much lately so it was good to get out for a short time with the camera today. We headed down to Petone Estuary where the time was way out and the birds pretty much went with it. I did get a few shots of the white-faced heron but they will be the subject of another post.  What I did manage to have some fun with was the flax bushes, or rather the tui feeding on the flax flowers!

There were about three or four tui flying about, singing to each other and feeding on the flax flowers. None of them like me all that much but if it meant leaving the food they just weren't prepared to do that to get away from me. I kept a reasonable distance, I had a long lens after all, and I shot a whole heap of photos in a very short space of time.

When I got back to the computer and was able to look at the photos, all I could say was "Wow!". I have so many awesome shots that I didn't know which ones to pick for this post. There are some blurred ones also but the tui move really fast so that was bound to happen, however the good to bad ratio on this shoot has me really happy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ugly ducklings...

Paradise ducklings start out being very cute little black and white balls of fluff. When they reach teenager stage it all changes and they become what I consider ugly ducklings! Went for a walk this afternoon and found this family of Paradise ducks.

And then it rained...

It was only yesterday that I was complaining of boredom with the waxeyes, but then it rained this morning and they were still out at the feeder getting breakfast! The rain put a whole different perspective on the shots so I just couldn't resist. The image below is part of the feeding frenzy from this morning at the feeder, the rest of the images are all shot in the rain, so any little lines you can see are actually rain drops falling.

I can hear waxeye chicks calling again so I suspect we have a nest near by and a new hatching of chicks. Hopefully I will get another chance to photograph them being fed by the parent bird again. While I managed to capture it with the last two chicks, I am not totally happy with the resulting images. The background is just a bit messy.

The blackbird chicks have left the nest (or at least one set, there is still another full nest of chicks in the driveway). One of the chicks decided to check out the house yesterday and waltzed on in through the doors, tried to climb the curtains before using both the curtains and the carpet as a toilet. I was not impressed! I guided the young blackbird back outside three times before I just gave up and gave it a mat to sit on. It left about an hour later.

My son in Australia asked me the other day if I had an aviary now. He had skimmed my blog and seen the many bird images. After correcting him I got to thinking that what I have is so much better than an aviary. I have wild birds in my back yard that enjoy spending time there. I get to photograph them whenever I want and so long as I don't get too close or move to fast they all tolerate my being in their space. It is pretty cool!

Friday, November 16, 2012

It had to happen...

I hate to say it but I am getting a little bit bored with my current subject matter. That being the waxeyes. I love having them about but I think I have exhausted my creative juices regarding them for the time being. It is good that the Tui have now started visiting the feeder on a regular basis, as now I can start obsessing about them!

The tui are a different challenge all together as the perches that work so well for the waxeye are not so useful for the larger birds. They also tend to swoop in, grab their feed and then take off in a hurry to the highest tree they can find. Not useful for the taking of photographs!

 The tui that visited today was less aggressive and almost tolerated the waxeyes being about. Unfortunately the waxeyes have now learned not to trust the tui and took off every time it came close. Our new tui feeder arrived today so it will get put up some time over the weekend and that should give them their own feeding areas. I am not sure it will work but we can only wait and see. I suspect they will all use both feeders.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mixed messages

I am always striving to improve my photographs and where possible that is in the camera rather than in post processing. I know that some post processing is always going to be necessary but if I can achieve the image I want in the camera I am always happier with the outcome. I share some of my better images so that I can get feedback from those who view them. This reinforces to me that I am on the right track with what I am trying to achieve.

So I get really confused when I post to different places and get way different responses. On Facebook there are a lot of photographers who's opinion I respect and many of whom are also friends. When they tell me they like an image I believe them because I trust that they are going to be honest with me. On another site there are some excellent international nature photographers who are of a standard that I doubt I will ever get to. Sometimes I feel I am close, and then I will post an image to their site and they will find lots of negatives about it in their critique, then add a tiny positive to encourage me to do better.

In the beginning I felt I was learning a lot from them but now I just get depressed when my best image of the week or month is just knocked down. I paid to be a member on the site too, I won't be renewing my membership when the time is up. There is just so much negativity a person can take. I am learning so much more just from picking up my camera every single day and using it than I have from reading lots of articles and looking at other peoples work.

I learn by doing, by making mistakes and finding solutions to the mistakes. I don't show you the mistakes here but I am happy to say there are a lot less than there used to be. So thank you to all who read this blog and comment on my photographs both here and on Facebook, I am grateful for the feedback. I am learning more every day and I think I am just going to delete the links to that other site.