Photo Of The Week: Back To the Birds

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.

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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.

 

Photo Of The Day: The Christmas Card

Resident Reds   Posted to flickr November 20, 2014  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.

Forgive the plug. It pays the bills.

Have a Great Holiday Season.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: The Birds Of Winter

birds.059.1.14.edited_edited-1I’ve been spending a lot of time this winter photography birds.   For one thing,  I get absolutely starved for color in the drab winter months. Especially so now that the bitter cold has wiped out all of the Camellia blooms. That plus the fact that the birds of winter are at their most colorful during the colder months.  It’s hard to top the brilliance of the Cardinal’s scarlet red,  the vibrant yellow of the Goldfinch,  the deep grays and browns of the Chipping Sparrow,  the subtle blue of the Tufted Titmouse and so on…  Plus, there’s no foliage to shoot around. I caught these Cardinals and a Sparrow in a River Birch Tree here on the farm.  Group shots are a challenge for me but I was right pleased with the overall sharpness of this take. Click on the photograph for a larger view.

As for the gear: Nikon D7100 with a  Nikon 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I’ve tried the big 400 and or 600mm lenses from various makers  and found all of them wanting in the sharpness department  when fully extended.  I have yet to find a reasonably priced telephoto lens that is sharper.    As I have pointed out before, The D7100 is excellent for wildlife shooting because of its high resolution (24mp) and small sensor which gives you a 1.5 crop factor turning the 300mm lens into a 450mm.  As for settings, Auto White Balance, Spot Metering, Aperture Priority Mode,f/11, and the lowest ISO I can get away with.  In the shot above that was 160.  More coming. Stay Tuned.

Thanks for the look and have a terrific Sunday Evening.  Hope your team wins.

Photo Of The Day: Waiting on Spring

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The Azaleas were blooming. So was the Periwinkle and all of the other harbingers of Spring.  Until the big freeze moved in.   This Cardinal seems to be  thinking “this too shall pass.”   Hope its warmer where you are.  Thanks for the look and have a great evening.  Click on the photograph for the full Monty.  Nikon D7000 with a Nikon 70-300mm telephoto lens.

The End of a Snowy Day

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Not to wear you out with bird shots but I loved the natural light play in this shot and thought it worthy of a little internet fame.   The female Northern Cardinal seemed to be  enjoying a little late afternoon quality quiet time perched on an icy River Birch tree at the end of a snowy day here.   This shot was taken as a RAW image with a D7000 and other than converting to a jpeg file in Photoshop Elements, it is unfooled around with.   The male Cardinals always seem to steal the show with their bright red winter suits particularly in a snowy scene but when the light is right, I find the sublime beauty of the female absolutely  breathtaking.   If you have a minute,  click on the photograph and have a look in large.   Thanks for the visit and have a great evening.

The February Surprise

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Well, not really.  We knew it was coming.  The surprise was the prediction.  We haven’t had a flake in three years so when the weather service put the chance of snow at 80 percent for overnight Friday and Saturday morning,  we were skeptical to put it mildly.  The high on friday had been in the upper 60’s!  Sure enough, Saturday morning what began as rain turned over to snow and withing a few hours we had two inches of it on the ground.  There was just enough time to get out to the bird blind and grab a few shots of a very surprised Northern Cardinal.  By last night, the snow had turned back to rain and by this morning, the big melt was well underway and things began returning to normal.  Have a Great Evening and thanks for the look.