When I was still at college (and because I am an old git, I was shooting on film), I spent some summers in Huntingdon, a town in Cambridgeshire that my mum lived in at the time. The river Ouse ran through the town (actually separate Huntingdon from Godmanchester) and there was a park along the river that I walked in frequently. One afternoon I was walking there when a swan took off on the water alongside me and I grabbed a single shot of it that was one I was really happy with. (After I write this, I will go back through my stuff to see if I have a good scan of it to add to the bottom of this post.)
Ever since I have been shooting digitally, I have wanted to get shots of swans flying. However, I haven’t lived in places where swans were very common. That has changed since moving here. There are some wetlands north of here that are heavily populated by swans and I shall be checking them out before too long. However, we do get some swans in Juanita Bay. Nancy and I were out for a walk a while back when three pairs of swans took off from the water near us and flew right by. You can probably guess that I wasn’t carrying a camera that day.
A week or so later, I was back at Juanita Bay with the camera this time and there were swans hanging out in the same area. I thought that, this time, my planning would pay dividends. Sadly, that was not to be. They seemed very content where they were and all I got was pictures of them sleeping, swimming or occasionally stretching their wings. I shall be back for another attempt though.
The presence of the eagles on Juanita Bay was something I have seen before but I had not been out with the camera before to catch them. I saw one eagle hunting out on the water as I moved towards the bay and this startled the wildfowl as I mentioned in a previous post. The eagle involved then flew back to one of the trees on the shore and perched there for quite a while. I got to one of the boardwalks in the park where I could sit it waiting, a little far away and almost directly in the sun. Time to wait.
I hung around for quite a while hoping this eagle would make a move. It seemed to have more patience than me. Meanwhile, I was looking around to see whether anything else was on the move – the swans perhaps. Then my eye caught some movement coming across the bay towards me out of the background of the hills opposite. I suddenly realized that it was another eagle. It was already climbing as I realized and I tried hard to get the camera up towards it despite having the monopod attached. I got a focus on it just as it reached the tree branch it was aiming for. A great flare of wings and then it was perched, almost directly above me.
I got a bunch more shots of it as it found a comfortable position on the perch and there is remained. I was getting pretty cold and the light was fading so I decided to head back around the park. The last I saw it was still up there.
I was walking along the edge of the lake in Juanita carrying the camera. Juanita Bay is popular with bird life and I saw a lot of the wildfowl suddenly burst into life and start flying towards me. I pulled the camera up and started shooting. I wasn’t sure what was going on but figured I could try and work that out later. Meanwhile there were a lot of birds coming at me.
It was soon clear what was occurring. There is a pair of bald eagles that frequent the bay and one of them was soaring across the bay. It pulled up and landed on a pole out in the water and very close to the birds. This obviously spooked them and they all bolted for the shore and, perhaps, safety. The eagle didn’t seem to bothered about them to be honest but they are not averse to a change in diet once in a while so I understand why there was such a reaction.
Christmas morning in Kirkland had us waking up to some snow. It had started to snow a little on Christmas Eve but plenty more had dropped overnight. This was not snow that was going to last long. It was rather heavy and damp and, having built up on the branches of the trees, it was pretty precarious. When some of it slipped off, it would take whatever was below it too resulting in some significant dumps on the ground below or you if you were unlucky. Paying attention to what was above you was a good idea.
I went out first thing. Since it was Christmas morning, not much traffic had been out so the roads were reasonably untouched. The light from the street lamps was still a factor in some places. I wandered around the neighborhood checking out the view before it all went away. The temperatures were not too low so I didn’t have to wrap up much and I knew things would soon melt. However, it was a scenic place to be for a while and added a certain atmosphere to Christmas Day.
As I posted a while ago, I have been experimenting with stitching shots from my phone. Since I am shooting in raw on the phone, I have some latitude to play with the shots in post that wasn’t there before. This time, though, I thought about it a bit more and put the camera into manual mode to fix the exposure. This should make the stitching and blending easier than when it changed between shots (although, to give the Lightroom team credit, it did a pretty good job anyway). I allowed plenty of overlap and the merge seemed to go pretty well. Since it outputs a dng file, you still have the chance to edit more aggressively than would be possible with a jpeg. Meanwhile, you get a higher resolution shot than with the internal pano mode. This may be my go to method from now on.