Spring

Top photo, white Dogwood. shot with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 70-200mm f/4, Formosa Azalea shot with Nikon D750 and Nikkor 16-35mm f/4, Forsythia Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 and lastly, Pear blossoms shot with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 60 mm f/2.8.  Thanks for visiting and have a great week ahead.  See you next time.

Thriving Camellias

It was near 85 degrees here in Southeastern North Carolina yesterday and this morning it was 35!  Tonight the forecast is for a low in the 20’s.  The roller coaster weather is driving my sinuses crazy but the Camellias are thriving. Almost overnight, it seems, we go from blooms burned by the freezing temperatures to a new round of buds and flowers. 

These were all taken with a Nikon D750 Camera fitted with a Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.  Manual exposure, spot metering, f/4 aperture and an ISO setting of 160.  Gotta run, the Daffodils are blooming. Thanks for the look and have a large weekend.  See you next time.

The Falls of The James: Richmond, Virginia

The picturesque  James River winds its way through the center of Richmond, Virginia for 7 miles.  From Bosher’s Dam west of the Huguenot Bridge to Mayo’s Bridge, better known to Richmonders as the 14th Street Bridge, downtown,  the river marks its fall line, making it the only place in the country where you can thrill to kayaking or rafting a class III and IV whitewater rapids, then walk to a downtown bar and have a beer.  I wouldn’t reccommend shooting the rapids with a camera in order to get some pretty amazing scenes as there are plenty of vantage points to experience the whitewater without getting soaked, but as the saying goes, whatever floats your boat. .

For my visit this past week, I concentrated on the river ‘s trek through downtown, shooting from several vantage points: the north bank of the river as seen from the Canal Walk (worth a day of shooting alone),  from the new pedestrian bridge across the river that takes you right over rapids and from above thanks to a friend’s apartment with a fabulous view of the river.

All of the above shots were taken with one rig, a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a 24-120mm f/4 Nikkor lens. Spot metering was used throughout taking my reading from either the sky (away from the sun), or the water and as is my usual practice, an  ISO as low as possible.

The James River is reason enough to plan a photography trip to Richmond but you’d be smart to plan a week here.  Books have been written on this picturesque, historic and modern city so do some research and make it a point to get here and stay a bit.  Your camera will thank you.  As always, thank you for your visit to my blog.  Happy shooting this coming week and Safe travels.  See you next time.

Prime Time for Winter Flowering Camellias

As January wains, the Camellia Japonicas are approaching their prime blooming season.  These shrubs need to be located in a sheltered location to protect the foliage but also the flower buds.  Once they bloom, the flowers are incredibly hearty and can withstand low tempertures, but the buds are very fragile.  Here on the farm. the Camellias, most  are over 75 years old, are located under Lob Lolly pines and right behind the Azalea beds.  We’re expecting temperatures dropping into the teens and low 20’s which will likely damage even well protected shrubs, so I wanted to get some shots before the deep freeze sets in.

While these shrubs are exposed to filtered light during most of the day, the afternoon sun reaches them directly.  For that reason, I usually wait until late afternoon , after 3PM before I venture out.   As is my usual practice, I use the lowest ISO setting I can get away with while shooting at f/11 or f/8 if possible.   I  almost always use spot metering taking the light reading off the bloom itself, and usually will use manual exposure and, of course, I use a tripod.   These shots were all taken with a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro lens.  “Micro” is Nikon-speak for Macro lens. Unlike many, I prefer the 60mm because I like to work close to the subject.  For insects, butterflies etc, I use my Nikon 105mm Micro. I always shoot in RAW because it allows me more control over white balance, light and color.  I use the RAW conversion panel in Photoshop Elements.

As always, thank you for visiting, and happy shooting.  See you next time.

 

Bird Photography from the comfort of home

Bird photography is pretty much a cold weather thing with me.  For one thing, aside from the beach which is nearby, there’s not a lot of competition for subject matter during the winter.  And, of course, finding and photographing birds is far easier when the trees are pretty much devoid of their foliage.  So why now?  Well, the jet stream decided to detour to the far north leaving us and much of the country in the throes of super heat we don’t usually see until late July and August.   Tromping outside in 100 plus heat and dripping humidity is not my idea of  fun.   So for this little “outing” I set up my rig in  the air conditioned comfort of my house.   We have a large single pane window in our bathroom that offers a wide view of the backyard and woods beyond.  I cleaned the window outside and in and got to business.  I used a Nikon D750 and a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens mounted on a tripod with no UV filter.  I decided to forego another piece of glass to preserve a little clarity.  The time of the shooting was between 3 and 4:30pm.  Here’s a sample of what I came away with.

This female House Finch was perched in a Sycamore tree about 20 feet from the window.   I used my usual settings for bird photography.  Spot metering, Aperture Priority set to f/8  and  lowest Iso I can get away with.  In the shade that was about 160.

This male Northern Cardinal was eyeballing a platform feeder about 10 feet away from his perch in a River Birch Tree.  His mate was on a nearby limb preening after a shower earlier in the afternoon.

Aside from shooting out an airplane window years ago which yielded mixed results, this was my first attempt from inside the house and judging from these results, it won’t be the last.  Thanks for the look. Feed the birds!  See you next time.

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.

 

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.