A Rare Snowfall

It doesn’t snow here often, maybe once every two or three years, if that, so, it’s a pretty big deal when it does.  Even a few inches will close schools for a week and empty the bread and milk shelves in the grocery stores.  And, if there’s freezing rain involved, the power usually goes out for several days.  Armed with my “hunker down list”, I made a supply run to stock up on, among things, gasoline, to keep the generators running in the event of a blackout. ( The power stayed on and the gasoline wound up in my truck.) The storm which came overnight, topped out at between 3 and 4 inches.   It was more than enough to cover the ground and pile up on the evergreens.   I packed up my camera and headed out with a sack of black oil sunflower seeds in hopes of catching a few bird shots. Birds must have some sort of Twitter thing that allows them to instantly communicate with other birds.   A few scattered sunflower seeds on the ground below my favorite River Birch Tree brought them out in droves.

   

 

The smaller birds like the Dark Eyed Junkos and House Finches were first on the scene, loading up before the bigger birds muscled in.

The Northern Cardinals, male and female, who mate for life, usually show up together.  It’s interesting how they take turns swooping down to the seeds, pick one up and fly back to almost the same spot in the tree to crack it open and eat.  After about an hour, the tree was overrun by Common Grackles.  These birds appear to be all black at a distance, but are actually highly iridescent with colors ranging from blue to purple depending on how the light strikes them.

My Nikon D750 was back at Nikon in New York getting its shutter repaired in a recall so I used the trusty D700 to capture these, using a 70 to 300 mm lens which I have had for well over a decade.  I had to get close to avoid extreme cropping with the D700 which packs only 12 megapixels.  I was right pleased with the results. Maybe by the next time it snows here, I’ll have one of those big telephotos that are all the rage. Maybe! At 72, I’m not one to look too far ahead.  Thanks for the visit.  Have a good week.

 

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Smothered!

Dawn on Wednesday brought ample evidence of what was coming that night. By nightfall it had started as very light sleet with snow mixed.

Living out in the country, our biggest fear is always the loss of power.  I had layed in enough gasoline to power the generators  for several days in the event of a power failure but the weather gods shined upon us this time and the lights stayed on.  I figure we got maybe 3 to 5 inches with drifts in some places up to 7 or 8.  Not much when compared with what the Northeast got, but down here where snow removal is the month of July, it was enough to bring everything to a halt. There was nothing to do but admire a winter scene we had not seen since 2010.

The crews had moved in the day before the storm and harvested all of the soybeans and got them under cover before the snow started leaving a pristine field of white looking west toward the tree line and the tin barn.  It’s been brutally cold here since the storm with overnight lows just a tick above zero. Serious stuff for Southeastern North Carolina.  Thanks for the look.  Stay warm. See you next time.

A Worthy Sub for the D750

I had noticed the fade in a corner of a frame of one of my shots with the Nikon D750,  along with what seemed to be a hint of some artifacts hidden in the light.  I thought nothing of it.  Most of my photography is done at sunrise and unwanted flares and other tricks of the light are pretty common.  Then came the news that Nikon wanted me to check the serial number on my camera to see if it was affected by what Nikon had deemed a faulty shutter.  It was.  I was strongly advised to pack up the camera and send it off to Nikon for the installation of a new shutter to fix the problem.  There is no charge and Nikon picks up the tab for shipping at both ends.  Off it went.

I moved the trusty 24-140 mm F4 G lens that lived on the 750 to the old warhorse, the D700.  I admit I had some concerns.  The 700 packs just over 12 megapixels, exactly half of the D750 but, in my perfectly unscientific opinion, it shines in its low light capabilities and its ability to blend the edges of objects into the prevailing tones to create what to me anyway is a very pleasing and artistic image.  I got everything ready for the next trek out into the fields here on the farm.


The D700 doesn’t lend itself too well to cropping in post,  thus, framing in the camera is a must.  But at the end of the day, The old D700 is setting itself up to be the F3 of the digital age.  It’s been around for a long time but it still takes marvelous pictures.  Thanks for the look and best wishes for a joyous, healthy, safe, and prosperous 2018.  See you next year!

A Walk Around The Point At Land’s End

The Bogue Banks and its neighbor, The Shackelford Banks, lie just south  of Cape Lookout  off  the North Carolina Coast.  Unlike the Outer Banks which runs from Corolla in the north through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Bogue and Shackelford Banks are pretty much positioned east west rather than north south.  This means the sun is overhead throughout the day from sunrise to sunset.  Here, the beaches are wider and they are growing.  The beach you see above which rounds the point was not here ten years ago.

The dunes along this section of beach have largely been built up due to the careful positioning of sand fences which dot the landscape.

The Bogue Sound and the town of Swansboro are  visible in the distance.  Beach erosion and the loss of sand and dunes due to nor’easters and hurricanes along the Outer Banks,  appears to have been to the benefit of Land’s End on the Bogue Banks.  Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead.

The “New” D700

My “New” Nikon D700 arrived this past  week.  I had owned one before but sold it in order to buy the replacement D750. While the 750 is a fine camera with unbelievable resolution and twice the megapixels of the D700, it lacks the older camera’s heft and professional build. There is also something to be said about spreading 12.1 megapixels across a full frame sensor.  The “New” D700 had been hardly used.  It came in its original box with all the bells and whistles Nikon usually includes with new cameras: battery, charger, software, strap, Manual and so forth.  The shutter had a grand total of just over 8 thousand snaps on it.  Nikon Warranties the shutter for 150,000. So how did it do in the field.

The camera has always been noted for performing well in low light situations.  This was shot at the break of dawn with an ISO setting of 400.

Taken the next day in much brighter light that came with sunrise and the usual haze from the morning ground fog,  the ISO setting was 250.

Finally, the Autumn colors of the farm grape vine was a nice test of the white balance of the D700, though its true test will come with the color red. Recent Nikon’s tend to render true red with an orange tint which can be corrected by under exposing by a half to full stop.  My rationale for buying a used D700 came from my long desire to just shoot full frame cameras.  Maintaining a  small sensor camera and its dedicated lenses seemed a bit much.  If you have a similar hankering and shoot Nikon cameras, I suggest the D700.  There are lots of them on the used market these days and more than reasonable prices.  I got mine from B and H Photo Video in New York.  Whatever you shoot, enjoy the season and thanks for the visit. Happy Shooting!   See you next time.

Remembering Wally McNamee

Wally McNamee, the longtime photojournalist at the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine died recently. He was 84 years old.  I remember my first encounter with Wally quite well.  It was the spring of 1967. The cherry blossoms were in all their glory in Washingon and I was trying to compose a shot of them with the Jefferson Memorial in the near background.  Wally had seen me searching for a decent vantage point.  He came up to me, and wearing a broad smile,  introduced himself.   I quickly volunteered that I was a student at American University and was doing some field shooting for the photography course I was taking.  “Well,” he said, “this scene with the cherry blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial is a classic this time of the year.  You’ll do well with it. ”   He then suggested a vantage point on the path along the Tidal Basin about  50 yards closer to the Memorial.  He offered a few tips for camera settings, shook my hand and said, “See you around John.”   I ran into him several more times during my time in the District: at the DC riots after Doctor King was assassinated in Memphis, the Washington anti-Vietnam War March and several other occasions.  He always had a friendly word.  Wally McNamee was a good person in a tough town.  I invite you to read Dee Swann’s remembrance of Wally on the Washington Post’s Photography Blog, “Insight.”  Here’s the link:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-sight/

 

Thanks for the visit.  See you next time.