The Current Bird Journal is always here. All Contents Copyright 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. Cameras Used Ethics notoriously out-of-date Feedback page Bird Rescue Advice Herons Egrets Herons vs Egrets Books & Links Pelican Beak Weirdness Pelicans Playing Catch Rouses Courtship Displays Duck Love Birding Galveston 2nd Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds & the 1st Bald Eagle Coyotes 800e Journal G5 Journal JRCompton.com Links resume Contact Me DallasArtsRevue Bird Banding Info So you want to use one of my photographs in your work? How to Photograph Birds The SW Medical School Rookery map
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BEST MARCH PIX: Ben's Hawk Gullses Too Dark & Too Light Mysterious birds skittering
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New, Old Camera while my old, new
Camera gets fixed or replaced
March 5 2015
Photographed from Winfrey Point Circle, which like the other roads around the lake today were largely not populated with cars and trucks. Yeah! Snow days.
I don't remember from whence I shot this. Probably from the Winfrey Building's parking lot.
Instead of The Blunderbuss, all of today's and likely tomorrow's and maybe on for awhile's shots were/are/will be taken with my Panasonic Lumix G5 micro four-thirds camera, whose sensor is significantly smaller than that on The Blunderbuss (a Nikon full-frame camera). I've been wanting to use it and thinking about using it for at least the last month or so, but now that The Blunderbuss's lens mounting pin (that enables easy removing of lenses) is malfunctioning, I pretty much have to.
I don't have a full-frame, auto-focus, wide-angle lens for my usual camera, so this shot would be difficult with it. With the G5, however, I just switch lenses, click and maybe even switch lenses back to the telephoto zoom again. Among other features, the G5 shows the scene in the electronic form into which it will be rendered, meaning I can usually see the exact exposure tonalities I should expect in the final image — the light balance, tonality, contrast, etc. With my big Nikon, I can only see the optical framing of what the lens sees without the exposure, color, white-balance, shutter-speed variations. So, it seems like it would be a great camera to use for birds, but it's really not, and I had a booger of a time following flying birds today, but I'll probably get better as I use it more.
The G5 is my normal people camera, however, and last weekend I shot more than 500 pictures of people with it. It's also my standard art camera, and I've used it or its Panasonic precursors for nearly all the images on my other website, DallasArtsRevue.
Kinda precarious out on the pier today. I was careful. Where usually are grasses and plants and trees on either side, today were full of water and the water was often occupied by birds.
I guess they were too cold to be scared.
I'm completely out of practice following a flying bird, even one as large as the American White Pelican, in from out and moving fast, with my Panasonic Lumix G5 (the G6 is the current model, and I'm sure the G7 will follow soon. In my experience, these things only last a couple to three years. This one already has several significant issues. But when it finally dies or even more features die, I'll probably get an Olympus EM1 or 2 instead. The G5 is considered an advanced amateure camera.
I got a couple other shots of this pelican, but they're blurry and not nearly as good as this, and with The Blunderbuss, all that has become easy and normal.
Seagulls, if there is any such thing, hang out in and around the sea — or ocean. Gulls are just about everywhere I've been aware of birds. There are many many fewer Ring-billed Gulls at White Rock Lake lately, and I don't mind that a bit. Most birds come and go on a fairly regular basis.
I'm still having trouble seeing the EVF (electronic viewfinder) image here, so there's something not-quite-there about these shots. I miss the Nikon.
The G5's sensor is half the size of the APS-C sensor, which is itself half the size of the full frame Nikon, which makes their cameras smaller and lighter. It may be that I'm just not used to dealing with that small and light a camera.
But it still captured very nearly the quality of The Blunderbuss, sometimes.
They're not pals. The coot just happened to be there while I was photographing the Mute Swan known as Katy, and I really like the comparison of white and black, big and little, positive and negative spaces.
Ben's Hawk, Coots & Ducks & Gulls
March 5 2015
Perched right where Ben pointed him out to me last time I photographed that handsome bird. I looked up, saw it immediately, backed The Slider a little down the hill, sidled over to the wrong-way side and photographed this bird out my driver's side window as it looked about.
Left, then right, then …
Still glued onto whatever it was watching, the hawk jumped into flight, banking nearly vertically and sped off down the hill. The main drawback to photographing from a car is that if the bird flies to the other side and off down the hill over some fields, there's no way to watch and/or photograph it doing that. Oh, well, this was a pretty darned good view, and I would never have got it if I had not driven up to the tree, cutting off my view of everything else on the extended landscape.
Or a tributary of Dixon Branch, actually. I'd heard Wood Ducks had been floating in the little valleys — now ponds and lakes of their own — over behind Stone Tables. I looked. Lots of Mallards, but no Woodies.
We were in San Antonio to attend my sickly father, who's only 101 years old now, having in one generation, bested his father's lifetime by 40 years.
Mom, Anna and I went up the mountain of trash hoping to see and photograph the Turkey and/or Black Vultures we saw circling high above, but when we hove into close view all we saw were trucks, little trucks and great big huge trucks dumping trash up there, where they were growing a mountain out of trash. We were very surprised nobody stopped us or wanted to talk, like they did in eastern Irving when we tried the same stunt there.
Irving let us up, but we had to prove we were us. The San Antonio Waste Management Mountain had already grown much larger, but we didn't see the vultures.
For the first time in a long, long, too-long time, I saw nary a single Ring-billed Gull at White Rock yesterday or today.
Low-contrast, waning light, fog, mist, Some Birds & Rower Noise
March 4 2015
I got back from visiting my ailing father late Tuesday afternoon. It was already getting dark, and we drove through fog and rain all day, visibility nearly zero. When I got this scene, I was only hoping to get enough of Dreyfuss rendered about white — nearly pure white. I've been trying for a years now, to capture the hops that precede a pelican take-off. Like 35 north to Dallas, this scene was somewhere between all white and mostly dark. I never saw the pelican. I was waiting for the headlights to get in just the right position, and about all I could see was the foggy, misty white surrounding just about everything out there.
I assumed the skitterers were coots, but they have white undercarriages, so I asked Bird Chat, the Dallas Audubon bird forum, and there, Ben said they were Ring-necked Ducks. Wish I'd known that then, so I could have photographed them more carefully. Se la vie.
There was mist here, too, but not enough to distract anybody.
There really isn't a point to Winfrey, even this haze-obscured jut is mostly just rounded. Especially so in this near-surface condensation under a sky obscured by bright stuff that's more water than air.
I think this is off Sunset Bay toward the lagoon.
Because everything in sight was mostly white, the camera turned everything into dark, especially the bright. So it's confusing seeing it here like this, where I can easily see the differences among different birds.
Although, except for the light, this may closely approximate, what really was there.
Ben and I were talking about where else we've seen Buffleheads this and previous seasons, and we agreed never inside Sunset Bay proper. But that may be that in cool, heavy, wet fog, we mostly stay away from the pier in Sunset Bay, thus missing our chances. Clearly the birds are not bothered as much about it as we were, and they were in it.
So when they got this close, we were amazed. Click-click.
Again, I followed them down clicking all the way, but I still never expected this shot to turn out.
But they did.
Neighbors on the far side have reported being upset by a certain loud-cursing caller, we could plainly hear him bellowing, and someone had seen the caller and the rowing crew plough through several floating flocks of Ruddy Ducks on the west side, but nothing stops the rowers' noisy, cursing caller. We were glad he didn't lead them all through "our" bunch of birds in Sunset Bay.
All text and photographs Copyright 2015 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from and payment to Writer and Photographer J R Compton. I am an amateur. I've only been birding since 2006, and most of that is documented in this Journal. I've been photographing professionally and semi-professionally yet always amateurishly since 1964.
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