Thursday, March 30, 2017

Some More Snow in the Forecast

Now that the snow from over two weeks ago is almost melted, we're in line for another extended storm system that will mix snow with rain. I headed over to Peebles Island around noon time today to see what's going on with the Bald Eagle nest.

The nest is being attended to but there's not much movement which I'm presuming means no hatches yet. Yesterday, I did see an adult on the nest and the other in flight around the area. Today, just one adult on the nest.

Yesterday, I came away with no useable shots of the nest. I'm increasingly disappointed with the used Sigma lens I traded a lot of good gear to obtain. One problem is that the older version (free) DxO Optics Pro software I was using to clean up the files isn't working on my computer since the most recent macOS update. The other problem is that, as some reviews noted, it's not as good with far away subjects as it is for closer in. The Eagle nest is not close. I may try and use it for some daytime field sports with a full frame body. There's something cool about a four pound hunk of metal and glass regardless.

Today, I tried some different techniques in an attempt to improve the image quality. Instead of using my 7D body and a monopod, I used my SL1 body and a tripod, manually focusing with zoomed in live view. Any differences were not noticeable. Here are some iPhone shots of the big lens/small body setup. You can see the nest in the second photo.

Here is a 100% cropped shot of the nest from today and a shot from yesterday showing that, not cropped and with a closer subject, the lens has some potential. My next experiment will be to take it out with my full frame body. Maybe up along the canal trail.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Leaves Melting Into Snow

The 22 inches of snow which fell two weeks ago is still hanging around even though it's the last week of March. It's been chilly and full sun has been sparse. But, there's been enough sun to heat up fallen leaves and twigs so that they melt down into the snow.

Instead of bracketing exposures, which might have been a good idea, I made single exposures, compensating for the fact that the camera's meter will try to make the snow gray. To be fair, though, the snow was gray as it was overcast, drizzling and the snow is two weeks old. One stop extra in addition to the metered exposure was about right.

I used my 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens. I used ISO 400 and f/11. In post processing I boosted saturation a bit and lowered highlights some. Hopefully in a couple of days we'll see some sun. I'm overdue to check on the Bald Eagles.

All of the fallen leaf portraits can be viewed at

Friday, March 17, 2017

This Morning on Peebles Island

It's been a while since I've been over to check on the Bald Eagles at Peebles Island State Park. Since I've checked on them we've had two frigid weekends with low temperatures in the single digits and a 22 inch blizzard.

I was hoping there'd be enough of a path from snowshoers that the slightly over a half mile walk from the parking lot to the nest viewing site would be negotiable in my cross trainers. There was, although I had to use my monopod as a walking stick/ski pole a couple of times. Here's a view of the trail conditions for the half mile walk.

iPhone 7 with Camera+ app

There were a couple of smarter people with snow shoes on the trails, one of them also there to check on the Bald Eagles.

Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM at 150mm.

Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM at 150mm.

It was good to see a Bald Eagle tending to the nest and presumed egg(s) although in the half hour I hung around I did not see the other adult eagle. Here is a not so great shot of the nest with the lens maxed out to 500mm and cropped to 100% followed by an iPhone shot from the same location aimed at the nest.

Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM at 500mm.

iPhone 7 with Camera+ app

Lastly, you rarely leave Peebles Island without a few White-tailed deer sightings. This one was enjoying the show shoe trails as was I.

Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM at 370mm.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Time to Get March Started

These Hudson River sunsets were made on March 1st at my usual spot. All are five image DHR composites made with my 5D Mark III and EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. The bracketing was -1, 0, +1, +2 and +3. I intentionally processed these to keep the silhouette of the trees, etc. rather than bringing in noise by raising the shadows.

I've posted them in chronological order although they were all shot within a few minutes. The first two were processed in Photomatix Pro using the "balanced" presets and the second two with the "photographic" presets. Not a lot of difference with these particular files.