Big Snow storms in Eastern North Carolina are rare but this time around, the TV weather readers were pretty convincing with all their dopplers, models and statistics. Rain, they said, would turn to freezing rain as the temperature dropped. Then sleet would pile on followed by snow. In all, two to four inches would accumulate before the storm petered out. Doesn’t sound like much but 4 inches here is a pretty big deal. Snow removal here is the month of July. I’m an aging radio news veteran from the days when news on the radio was actually quite the norm and I remember well the hype that kicks in when snow appears in a weather forecast, but this time, even I bought in. I rushed out and bought five gallons of gasoline for our generator. Freezing rain almost always means power outages in the rural area where I live.
The gasoline went in my truck. The storm fizzled. We had maybe a trace of snow and sleet but that was it. No eye popping winter vistas. So, I ventured down to my makeshift bird blind and spent the day with the birds.
A little snow on the River Birch Tree would have been a nice enhancement but you dance with what brung ya. A sack of sunflower seeds scatterred on the ground around the trees always works and soon the Cardinals and the Gold Finches et al were grabbing them and flying into the tree to crack the shells and munch away. So I got some pretty decent shots. One or two might find their way onto my web site. Not bad for plan B.
Here’s the gear list on these shots: Nikon D750, 70-300mm telephoto, Aperture Priority, Spot Metering, f/11, iso 200. Slik tripod. See you next time.
I caught this couple down near the Wetlands here on the farm. I like how they give one another a little space, perhaps the key to a successful relationship in all species including us. Have a Happy Day and thanks for the visit.
I could almost sense the thought balloon hanging over his head. “What on earth are you doing down here in this miserable weather?” It was pretty nasty. We’d had a good smothering of freezing rain and sleet Friday and a ton of rain overnight. Saturday brought high winds (45-50 mph gusts here on the farm) and a pretty good dusting of snow showers. The flakes were still stirring when I trudged down to my make-shift bird blind near the wetlands here with camera and a sack of sunflower seeds in tow. The bird blind is nothing to write home about. A jury rigged shack really, pieced together with old tobacco sticks, burlap and wire ties. It serves to keep me behind the curtain so to speak. My thought was the leaden sky and the random snow showers would be conducive to some bird shots. No sooner had I spread a handful or two of sunflower seeds around the river birch than Mr. Cardinal showed up and gave me that look before flapping off, no doubt spreading the word that some lunatic was giving away sunflower seeds on the edge of the swamp. .
I was using the Nikon D7100 camera with a 300mm lens, which on the small sensor D7100, lengthens its reach to 450mm, more than enough to crank in the birds which take their sunflower seed up into the River Birch to crack open. I used the usual settings save for one change. With the high wind, and the nervous nature of the birds, I switched from Aperture priority to Shutter Priority, setting my shutter speed to 320 and the lowest ISO I could get away with. I have but two gripes with the D7100. One is the small buffer. The other, and the one that really bugs me, is the location of the quality button. I am forever hitting it by mistake during shooting unknowingly changing the quality from RAW to one of the JPEG configurations which I am loathe to use. My other cameras have the Quality button tucked away in a less precarious spot. It’s one reason why I’m giving the just announced Nikon D500 a close look. There’s much to like, including the location of the quality button, and speed. The D500 is rated at 10 frames per second. It’s also pricey at two grand. The XQD memory card it uses is also pricey: a 32gig will set you back more than a hundred. As I said, I’m thinking about it, just as Nikon wants me too. Stay warm everybody. See you next time. Jh
For the longest time, we had very few birds fluttering around here then when the rare snow smothered everything, they all came out looking for yummy black oil sunflower seeds. This little Carolina Chickadee is banging away at his while holding it against a limb. I fired off about 10 shots with my D3X and managed to get several keepers. I’ve found the easiest way to get a shot of these very fast little birds is to wait until after they crack their seed and eat it. They will always look up and pause for a nanosecond before darting back to the ground to pick up another one. Click on the photo for the large view.
Another shot from the recent ice storm here. This Dark Eyed Junko was waiting to dart down to the ground below this River Birch Tree where I had spread a healthy amount of black oiled sunflower seeds. I was maybe 10 feet away in a makeshift bird blind with a Nikon D7100 fitted with a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G lens. I use the D7100 for most bird photography I do because of the crop factor involved in using a full frame lens on the small sensor camera. I’ve tried the Nikon 18-300mm but find the 70-300 far sharper.
The ice lingered for about a day until warmer temperatures brought more rain. What the Northeast has gotten in snow, we have gotten in rain. Eastern North Carolina to the coast is a virtual swamp because of the nonstop rain so other than during the ice event, I haven’t been out much working instead on a backlog of images. I’m hoping for a dry spring but it seems unlikely. Thanks for the look and have a good week.
I start thinking about the birds around this time every year when my Christmas Card comes to mind. My attention wanes during the spring and summer when I am more focused on what we’re growing here and of course the beach and the sound which are always uppermost in my mind.
I use a photograph of a Cardinal on my Christmas Card every year which I send to old friends and clients and what bird better conveys the holiday season than a male Northern Cardinal in his new red suit. These guys are my choice for this year. They were braving the cold snap in a bare River Birch Tree here on the farm. I caught them with a Nikon D7100 coupled to a Nikon 70-300 mm lens which on the small sensor D7100 is the equivalent of a 400 mm plenty of power to bring him up close and personal. My cards won’t go out until the second week of December but for all of you, an early peek.
Need I say this photograph and the entire collection of Cardinals and hundreds of other shots are available for cards or prints or framed shots etc via my web site. Just click on “John Harding Art Prints” and off you go.
Hope I’m not wearing you out with Cardinals. I must have a hundred shots of them from the two winter storms we’ve had. I did want to post this one though because it looks like he’s shed a tear. Just an ice pellet that stuck just below his eye. Nikon D7100. 300mm Thanks for the look and have a great weekend.