The Last Weekend Before The Great Migration

It was my last chance to shoot some pictures on a vacant beach and my back had finally decided to cooperate, agreeing to get itself back in sync.  I was on the beach road by 4AM and on the point at Lands End within a hour.  My timing could not have been better.  The tidal flats were laid out in front of me as the dawn reached its zenith.  I got low, stretched out the screen on the D800E allowing me the live view you see above.  The fellow dawn watchers far up the beach were a bonus.  They gave the scene scale.

The forecast had been partly sunny meaning a few clouds and that is exactly how it was.  A perfect morning for shooting a sunrise scene.  I used my usual formula” Spot Metering taking the exposure reading away from the sun and locking the exposure, iso 400, manual exposure, and an aperture of f/16.  I took three shots.  This one utilized a # 6 graduated neutral density filter shade the glaring sun while leaving the ocean and beach in natural light.  I don’t use this filter much but it was the right choice for this situation.  Certainly worth having one in your bag.

In addition to the D800E, I was carrying my D750 fitted with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens.  If you have two DSLR’s, I suggest fitting one with the requisite wide angle and a telephoto on the second. You never know what will come up without warning like the council of shore birds further up the beach which decided to head south.   I grabbed the 750 and caught them in the southeast sky.  complimenting that marvelous pink cloud that looked like the famous Nike Swoosh (trademark).  In all that morning, I grabbed more than 140 keepers.  I’ll share more with you over the coming weeks and leave the beach to the refugees from the North who need more Vitamin D than I.  Have a great holiday weekend everybody.

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 Week: New Year’s Day

_dsc3717                                                           The moment of sunrise at Duck, North Carolina along the Outer Banks.

I’m beginning the new year with a new camera, the Nikon D750.  Well, it’s new to me anyway.   The 750 has been out a while but I wasn’t drawn to it initially because I didn’t think it was a true successor to the D700, which to this day I wish I had not sold.  I was chasing megapixels back in those days.  The D700 had 12.  The norm now is about double that but the D700 was still one of the best digital cameras Nikon has ever made. My humble opinion!  The 12 megapixels plus the full frame sensor made for incredible photographs. It captured the nuances of light uniquely.  It shined.  The 700 also had a pro body. It was a tank just like the Nikon film cameras.  And, like the old Nikon F’s,  it was just a still camera. No Video.  My kind of rig.  I’ve never shot one frame of video on any camera since and I wish I could still buy a camera without it.  Easy, I’m 71.  I’m old.  Still photography is still my only bag. Instead of the then new D750,  I bought the Nikon D600.  Within a year, it was back at Nikon getting a new shutter because of oil splatter.  They fixed it well and I put upwards of 75 thousand snaps on it before selling it this fall.  Why?  Well, Nikon was out with refurbished D750’s at a price I could not refuse. It was a bit faster and, better in low light.  Having used it for a month,  I have only a few gripes — apart from the fact that it is also a video camera.    First, it has the cheap Nikon eyepiece that is forever coming off.  Why Nikon cannot engineer its consumer cameras with the same round eyepiece it puts on its pro models is beyond me. Perhaps they are making too much money selling replacement eye  pieces.   I have to keep a supply on hand because they are always coming off the camera.  I wish it had an auto focus “On” button paired up with the AF/ AE (E for exposure) lock button on the back of the camera. True, there’s a work around using the “fn” button on the front, but it’s awkward.  And i wish Nikon would move either the ISO button or the Quality button to the top of the camera. I keep hitting the “quality” button when I go to change the ISO and I don’t realize it until I go to process the file and discover its not a RAW file.  One of the reasons I didn’t go for the 750 when it first came out was the pop out tilting monitor on the rear of the camera.  I was certain it would prove to be a weak point. I have been proven wrong.  I suffered a serious fall while on a photo outing in December.  I took a beating but the 750 which crashed to the pavement with me suffered nary a scratch. So with the few gripes I have listed, I love the camera.  The resolution,quality, clarity, sharpness, improved grip, weight  etc are off the charts. I’m looking forward to 2017 with it.  I will also watch my step.

My best wishes to all who venture here every so often for a joyous, healthy and prosperous 2017.  Blue Skies and Green lights everybody and thanks for the look.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Week: Christmas Eve Sunrise

Blogged December 25, 2016

Sunrise December 24, 2016

 

For several years running,  the Christmas day sunrise has been nothing short of spectacular here, to the point of becoming an almost spiritual thing. Not This year.  We were greeted this morning with an overcast sky and patches of misty rain, the result of a warm front that marched through late yesterday and overnight.  But the Christmas weekend was not a total washout.. Christmas Eve morning  was a keeper. With the colder air, the scene could be from October.  There were  just enough clouds to reflect the warm morning light. I had seen the clouds moving in over the tall lob lolly pines from my kitchen window and grabbed my camera.  No filters. Nikon D750 fitted with a 24-120mm f/4 lens. Iso 400, custom white balance, though Automatic on the 750 is quite good. Manual exposure. Spot metering. 1/125th of a second at f/22 which explains the slight flare to the sun. Best wishes to all for a great holiday and a safe and prosperous 2017.

Photo of the Week: Dawn at the Live Oak

The Live Oak in The Soybean Field 11.24.16  blogged.

Dawn at the Live Oak

I’ve posted many shots of the stately Live Oak that anchors the old Civil War Ear Cemetery on our farm,  so in that regard this shot is nothing new but, of course, as the seasons change so does the view.   I rather liked the eerie warm hues generated by the dawn light on this early December morning, contrasting the golden tones of the ripening soybeans in the field with the dissipating dark clouds  in the North sky,   while throwing the old tree into silhouette. I had taken the 812 warming filter with me that morning but on live view, it added a bit too much warmth so I took it off the lens.   As with most of my efforts here on the farm, the light is the big star here.  Nikon D800E.  18-35mm lens.

A Side Note!  I usually post on Sundays but I had a rather horrific accident on Saturday evening.  I had driven into the City of Kinston to photograph a new tribute to the role of Tobacco played in the economy here.  On my way to the scene,  I took a shortcut through a parking lot.  I tripped on a raised area in the paved lot and crashed the left side of my face , my left eye in particular on the asphalt. By the time I got to the Emergency Room, the  eye had swollen completely shut with only a purple golf ball size lump where my eye was.  I was virtually certain I had fractured my skull and/or the orb of my left eye socket,  but CT scans proved otherwise.  There were no fractures. The doctors in the ER were as amazed as I was. Back home, I popped  a handful of ibuprofen and began the  ritual of 20 minutes of ice on the injured eye, 20 minutes off,  and repeating that on into Saturday night and through Sunday.  The swelling had been reduced by about half by Sunday morning and I could see out of the injured eye which, as one might suspect, was completely bloodshot.  This and the swelling has left me with  blurred vision in my left eye.  A visit to the Eye MD this morning revealed no damage to the eyeball or to the implant in the injured eye. Now it’s just a matter of warm compresses to help the red eye dissolve and the rest of swelling to subside.  Ah yes,  so what happened to the brand new Nikon D750 I was carrying that day.  It was in my right hand when I took my tumble and it struck the pavement with me. though it came out far better than I did.  No dings, dents, or scratches.  And yes, it still works.  Nikon builds em tough.  Moral of the story: when you’re out and about,  watch where you’re going and pick your feet Up!  God willing and I avoid falling into a hole somewhere, I’ll see you next time.

Photo Of The Week: November In The Wetlands

Autumn in the Wetlands

Autumn in the Wetlands

It’s probably not on any government map as an official,”Wetlands,” probably because it’s not very large; maybe 50 to 75 yards wide and a mile or thereabouts long.  Whatever, it’s on our farm and  it’s home to several families of Beavers, goodness knows how many Canada Geese,  Mallards and Wood Ducks, not to mention the Deer, Bears, Foxes and other forest critters who visit daily for a drink of water or to munch on some tasty leaves and berries.  We don’t permit any hunting in our wetlands and we leave the perimeter untouched so as to isolate it and make access difficult for humans.  I seldom venture there now except in the fall when navigating the vines, thorns  and overgrowth has died down to the point where one can gain access without getting hopelessly entangled in the thicket.  This past week, I took the plunge,  fitted out with hip boots and a very thick, thorn proof jacket.  It’s been quite dry here since Hurricane Matthew blasted through dumping well over a foot and half of rain so the slog for photos wasn’t too difficult for these old bones.  My photo gear for this little adventure was my trusty Nikon D7100 small sensor camera and a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle zoom. I leave my expensive full frame cameras in the bag when I venture into water either here on the farm or at the ocean front.   Why chance it when the D7100 will do the job.

It was well worth the trip.  I think the late afternoon shots on a partly cloudy, blue sky day captured both the isolation and the wildness of the area.  The shot above was taken from the North side of the Wetlands about 100 yards  East of the largest Beaver Pond with the Sigma dialed in at 10mm with a slight crop in post.  As is my usual practice when shooting into the sun, I used the manual setting and spot metering, taking my reading in the blue sky to the right away from the sun, locking the exposure ,then recomposing and shooting. The sun star, of course, is inherent at f/22.  As for the ISO, suffice to say I usually shoot at several different settings and just pick what I think is best.  The winner here , at least to my eye, was ISO 400.

A camera change for me.  I’m trading in my Nikon D600 in favor of a refurbished Nikon D750.  I bought the D600 new when it came out some years ago, and as you might know, the model was plagued with shutter oil splatter on the sensor requiring constant cleaning of the sensor.  Nikon finally agreed to a recall and replaced the shutter free of charge and the camera has given great service ever since. I opted for the D750 because It’s faster, has a tilt screen, 51 focus points, high ISO range,  among other improvements.  Prior to the D600, every digital camera I have ever bought from Nikon has been a refurbished model and I have never had the first problem. I’ve always heard that unlike  Nikon’s random assembly line checks of new models,  each of the company’s refurbished models is gone over by by a Nikon Tech and set to factory specs before it is cleared for sale.  I’ll let you know how the refurbished D750 measures up in a future post. As always, thanks for the read.  See you next time.