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J R learns the D200 - Day 30

Error: I promised to show my mistakes.
These are some of those. 1/350 @ f/11.

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The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher's Amazing Courtship Dance

Doo Duck Drinking - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Doo Duck Drinking   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

Day at least 30 — April 5 2005: Some days are like this. Everything goes wrong. Down to here, all these photographs were shot at exactly the same exposure. Because the J R wasn't paying enough attention. I'd left it on Manual Exposure yesterday, and when I picked it up and carted it off to the lake it was still thusly set.

I wondered the few times I checked, why the shutter speed and aperture didn't change, but I didn't give it enough thought (!) to do anything about it except keep shooting. It worked out adequately at first, then disastrously. But even from some of the most horrible underexposures.

I chose a time of day when the sun was setting, the breezes were kicking up, and it was cooler. It was also steadily darker. And so were my photographs.

Muscovy Hen Flying - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Hen Flying   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

I mentioned recently that I'd never seen a Muscovy Duck fly. Today I saw three of the large, heavy ducks lumber into the air. The sound they made was like a steam engine huff huff huffing over the narrow gap of water between shore and a sandbar / island / peninsula in Sunset Bay.

They are ungainly flyers, but they get the job done.

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Muscovy Hen Flying - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Hen Flying   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

I had to pull this somewhat out of darkness, but at this time, early in my evening of shooting 1/350 @ f/11 wasn't terribly far off correct exposure. It was complicated by the fact that I'd set the cam so it would automatically adjust the ISO as the evening's light wore away, never realizing that in Manual mode, that's where it stayed.

Autofocus worked fairly well in bright sunlight, then dwindled significantly. Maybe it needs good exposure to get the focus right, too. Who knows.

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Mucovy Hen Flying (from rear) - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Hen Flying   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

A not unflattering view, actually. I don't really know enough to say "hen," it just seemed plausible.

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Another Muscovy Landing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Muscovy Drake Flying   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

Inelegant but with some efficiency.

Paddle Swirl - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Paddle Swirl   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

This kayaker and I had a long chat as he prepared to get his craft in the water. At conversational distance, I was way too close to photo more than some parts of him. I love the swirl of water where his paddle just thrust through.

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Kayaker Gizmo - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Kayaker's Gizmo   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

This is an enlargement of the nastiness serious underexposure does to an image. Especially at ISO 1600.

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Woman with Kite - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Woman With Dragon Kite   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

This original exposure was jet black on the screen, with an orange smear where her T-shirt is. I don't think they ever got it much higher than about ten feet off the ground.

The green in this image was gone. So I painted it back with a translucing layer after wildly adjusting Photoshop to show density where none originally appeared. Not a terrible shot, after all that. You can probably tell I was intent on rendering the kit, not the people.

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Skater School - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Skaters' School   1/350 @ f/11  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

This is the first shot today that had anything near the correct exposure, and it was seriously underexposed.

I'd figured out just about here, that I had the cam in manual exposure mode, and that's why the shutters speed and f/stop remained the same all those shots, without me much noticing.

One or some of the adults were coaching both boys.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Courting - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.Scissortailed Flycatcher Courting - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Courting - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Courting - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Courting - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Courting   1/60-1/160 @ f/4-8  180mm   iso 500 FF  Manual Exposure

According to Fred J. Alsop III in his Birds of Texas (info on the Reference Page),

"During courtship the male performs a spectacular sky dance. From about a hundred feet above the ground, the male suddenly plunges, flies in a zigzag pattern with a trilling cackle, then flies straight up and falls over backward in two or three backward somersaults, displaying his long streaming tail. He repeats this courtship flight, sometimes until the eggs are hatched."

I had a devil of a time getting my D200 with 180mm 2.8 lens to focus on him while he was doing his aerobatics (this bird completely outfoxed Nikon's often accurate predictive focus), which is why most of these only approximate sharp. Some were probably manually (un)focused, since I tried that, too. Didn't think I'd get another chance to photograph this guy's behavior.

It did not help that I was shooting in available darkness as shutter speeds that do not stop Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in their aerial somersaulting madness, and that I had set the camera to under expose by .7 EV (3/4s of an f/stop) back when my previous underexposing manual exposure set numbers were letting too much light in. Ah, I hope days like this do not continue.

We've seen flycatchers (two — or the same one on two different days) at the lake before, usually pretty high up and nearly impossible to get in any approximation of focus (maybe a 80-400 VR zoom would help; I'd be willing to try). It took me awhile, watching this stunt-flyer, to figure out why he was acting that way. Eventually, before looking him up in the book, I figured it out.

If he really does keep up the aerobatic shenanigans, maybe he'll do it in brighter day, and when I've the sense God gave an African Brown Goose, I'll get my cam set on P for program instead of M for manual exposure, and try some in focus shots. Maybe I'll never see him again.

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Light Wave - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Light Wave   1/100 @ f/2.8  180mm   iso 450 FF  Bad Manual Exposure

When I shot this, all I could see were the lights gleaming over the high horizon. When I investigated the darkly underexposed image in Photoshop, this guy waving (or whatever he's doing) appeared.

Light Through the Trees - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Light in the Trees   1/2 @ f/2.8  180mm   iso 1600 FF HH  Manual Exposure

These are the lights behind the woods behind the building at Sunset Bay. Hand-held at long exposure, so they blurred in that zigzag pattern that shows everywhere in this rather well exposed shot...

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Total images, so far = 4,459