Tag Archives: wildlife

Back to Some Old Cormorant Shots

Regular readers will be shocked to see more cormorants showing up on the blog.  These aren’t even recent shots.  I can’t recall why I was running through old images, but it matters not.  All that is relevant is that I came across some older shots I have of cormorants sunning themselves which I had forgotten I had.  This got me looking for others.  The result is a few new shots of my favorite birds to share on the blog.

Owls in the California Desert

I have been getting photos of owls a bit recently with the shorties making their winter stay up in Skagit County.  However, when Mark and I headed to El Centro, it was planes rather than owls that we were after.  I knew that they were around there because other friends have posted shots of them in the past, but they weren’t something I was thinking about.  However, as Mark was driving us along a dirt road near the base, I saw one sitting ride by the road.

Trying not to spook it, Mark was able to grab my camera from the back seat and pass it to me so I could shoot out of the window.  The owl seemed unimpressed and stayed exactly where it was.  After a few shots we moved on but there was another a short distance away.  Same result as it wasn’t too bothered by the car.  A bit further still and another one.  This one was either standing on one leg with the other tucked up or just only had the one leg.  I can’t tell.  Again, it obliged as I took some shots.  Three owls in a short distance seemed like a pretty lucky run of things.

Flicker in the Backyard

I have mentioned before the difficulty I have had when trying to photograph flickers.  They are so easily spooked.  When one showed up in the back yard recently, I knew there was no way I would be able to go outside and try for a shot.  Through the windows was my only option.  Two layers of glass are not ideal for photographic clarity, but it is better than nothing.  Even then I have to be cautious since even the movement within the house is enough to scare them off.  Some careful positioning and very slow movements meant I was able to get a few reasonable shots.  It wasn’t long before they were off, though.  Whether it was me or just time to go to the next spot, I don’t know.

Kestrel on a Post

Kestrels are so small, getting a good shot of them is going to be tricky at the best of times and, unless they come nice and close, you are always working to see what you can get.  This little fella landed on a post near the road and was clearly having a snack.  Looking very closely at the images, I still can’t work out what it is eating.  I then waited for it to fly away and, of course, once I put the camera down for a bit, off it went.  I did get another shot of it as it flew to a post but nothing special.

Did These Geese Get Cleared Through the Zone?

This big flock of geese flew right by Boeing Field one afternoon.  There were tons of them, and their route brought them right across the approach path before skirting to one side of the airfield.  I didn’t hear them talking to air traffic and I don’t believe they had a clearance.  Maybe they will get a visit from the FAA at some point!

Kingfisher Fishing Successfully

When we visited Seattle not long after moving back to the US, I got a shot of a kingfisher as it sat on a cable at the locks in Ballard.  I guess this must be a good spot for kingfishers because, when we went down to see the boats, I found another kingfisher hanging out near where we parked.  The sound that they make is pretty distinctive and I heard it before I saw it.  It was sitting on a branch for quite a while before it dived down, grabbed something out of the water and landed on one of the wooden guides along the water to enjoy its snack.  I will have to spend more time down there and see if I can get some better shots of these speedy little critters.

Exposition Park Cats

As I walked into Exposition Park, I saw a cat wandering along the sidewalk near the road.  I stopped to watch it for a while, and it became a bit nervous when it realized I was watching it.  It soon retreated and I thought little more of it.  I assumed it was a wild cat rather than someone’s pet.  It was only a few minutes later that I came across another pair of cats.  They were playing together and initially seemed interested in my presence and then retreated too.  I assume that the park must have a few cats in residence.

Closest Encounter Yet with a Shortie

I was not intending to get photos of owls when we passed through Skagit, but I ended up getting some of the closest shots yet.  There were some owls on the ground pretty close to the road.  I am not sure whether they were guarding food or just contemplating their next moves.  However, one of them took off and flew around very close to where I was and, for a brief moment, it flew straight towards me.  I grabbed a few shots and then it was gone and shortly afterwards, so were we.  A lucky break for sure.

Experimenting With Enhance Levels in Lightroom

In one of the bigger updates of Lightroom and Photoshop, Adobe introduced the Enhance functions adding either resolution or noise reduction.  The noise reduction has been very effective for some of the shots I have taken with very high ISO levels.  I decided to edit a shot with varying levels of noise reduction to see how things look.  Since I had a bunch of cheetah shots taken in low light, I figured that would be a good subject.

You can vary the noise reduction level from 1-100.  I made five edits with one unchanged and the remainder at 25, 50, 75 and 100.  I then layered them in to one file to show the comparison.  The unchanged edit is on the right while the 100 noise reduction is one the left.  I felt like my previous experience had been that a level around 50 was a good outcome for much of what I had shot.  When I looked at these results, I again concluded that the middle level was the best compromise.  The 100 was just too much and 75 looked like things were a bit smudged.  You can judge what you think.  I shall experiment with levels each time I use it but it does give me a good idea of what to start with.

Look Both Ways When Crossing the Road

While parked up at East 90 and watching the birds hunt, I glanced behind me – always a wise plan – and saw a northern harrier coming in my general direction.  It flew low across the field and over the road before finding a perch.  As I looked through the images afterwards, I found it funny to see the bird crossing what seemed to be not far behind a vehicle.  I hope it had been taught how to cross the road.

A little while later, the same process was followed by a bald eagle.  The shot makes it look like it was actually coming along the road but I think that is just compression of perspective.  It was probably this side of the road.  It also safely made its way across without having any conflict with passing vehicles.  Maybe the local birds have copies of the Green Cross Code (for those of you of a certain age that grew up in the UK).