50mm Lens, 70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

Last week this robin decided to move:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

Out of the nest and into the hedgerow.  I was wondering what made him decide to go.  One of his siblings had left the day before.  It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but here is what he left behind:

ISO 800 f/2.7 1/320 0ev 4.33mm

ISO 800 f/2.7 1/320 0ev 4.33mm

These other two robins would wait an additional day before leaving.  When they went to leave one flew directly to the hedgerow.  The other decided to walk most of the way:

ISO 1000 f/6.3 1/320 0ev 200mm

ISO 1000 f/6.3 1/320 0ev 200mm

Here this last bird is, with an adult on the lookout as it makes it’s way to the hedgerow.  The adult offers up a snack as enticement:

ISO 640 f/6.3 1/160 0ev 195mm

ISO 640 f/6.3 1/160 0ev 195mm

Made it all the way to the hedgerow with a bit of coaxing.

So of the four birds this year, two flew directly and two walked.  I’m not an expert on birds but one difference I noticed was that the birds that walked seemed to have shorter and fewer feathers on their backside.  I was wondering though, given that they seemed to be a be leaving a bit sooner than they should have, what forces compelled them forward.  In past years we have had other hatchlings leave too early for obvious reasons.  One was forced out in a storm.  The other was the surviving member of an attack by a larger bird of prey.  The small bird was taken by it’s parents into the hedgerow at least two days earlier than it would have gone on its own, we suspect that it did survive.

So that is the end of the story for this year’s nest.  Thanks to all of you who followed along.  Let me know what you think of these final pictures.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, 70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

The original post for this week’s photo challenge mentions a robin’s nest as a possible example of intricate.  I’m going to take that a step further and suggest that it is not only the nest that is intricate, but that those weeks of being an egg and hatchling are perilous and require a lot of intricate details go right for the young bird. Two years ago four of the five health hatches were taken away by a larger bird of prey, a simple example of what can go wrong for these young ones.  This year’s nest is doing well so far, four healthy hatches.  The nest is getting crowded as the birds are growing, here is the nest first thing this morning:

ISO 800 4mm f/2.7 1/200

ISO 800 4mm f/2.7 1/200

I have been taking a quick photo on the macro setting with my point and shoot every morning to get a beak count before I set up my larger camera.  I had taken this photo and was inside getting the chairs for my larger set-up when I heard a lot of squawking and looked outside to see that one of the birds was on the ground and hopping away.  Much to the distress of the adult birds the young bird was sitting out in the open like this:

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

The adults spent several minutes trying to corral their youngster:

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 200mm f/6.3 1/250

The baby hopped back closer to the nest and was fed by the adults:

ISO 800 195mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 800 195mm f/6.3 1/250

But the nest is too high up for this baby to get back in.  The adults managed to lure it over to a patch of wildflowers we have.  A few minutes later, the young bird was led by the adults into our hedgerow which will provide more cover while the bird is learning to fly.

It seemed like a bit of a stressful moment for the adult birds as they saw to their young offspring.  Their chatter attracted the attention of other animals who came to watch.  In addition to myself, there was another pair of adult robins, a pair of mourning doves, a northern flicker, a squirrel, and a rabbit.  All of these animals, attracted by the noise, came to watch the moment unfold.  After it was over the robins went back to the business of feeding the rest of their remaining offspring.

ISO 1000 50mm f/6.3 1/250

ISO 1000 50mm f/6.3 1/250

Just a few of the intricacies that go into being a robin. As for me, to capture these few moments required two cameras and three lenses.  I started with my point and shoot.  The rest of the photos were taken with my Canon 50D.  I used my longer 70-200mm lens for the yard shots and then switched to the 50mm when taking the last photo.

I’ve been posting photos of this journey on Flickr and Twitter, so feel free to join me there and follow along. Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

There is a lot going on this Spring in my household.  One thing, that I’m pretty excited about, is that there is a robin’s nest outside of my kitchen window.  I’m busy taking photos of the birds as they are growing.  I use a fast shutter speed setting on my camera but sometimes I still get photos that look like this:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

A second later I get a clear shot:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

This shot has been cropped and sharpened in Photoshop.  No amount of sharpening is going to make that first picture a clear shot.  For the most part to get these shots I have my camera on a tripod which is set on top of a few of the good dining room chairs that I have set outside.  I have a remote shutter which allows me to be inside and taking pictures.  I took a photo of this silly looking set up and blogged about it here.  For the two shots above I used my Canon 50D.  I also take my point and shoot out when I am setting up my larger camera.  This morning I got this shot:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

This shot, cropped and sharpened, is my favorite of the day.  I’v been using my point and shoot everyday to get a close up photo like this.  I have a series of photos of the eggs and then the hatchlings.  Those photos I have posted on Twitter and Flickr, so feel free to drop by and follow along with the unfolding story there.

The difference between the two photos, between a blur of motion and a clear shot, is one second.  The first photo taken at 9:17:47 and the second 9:17:48.  What a difference a second can make.

What do you think? which photo do you prefer? Care to hazard a guess as to how many photos I took this morning between 8:31 and 9:18 as I was watching the adult birds come and go?  Feel free to leave a comment or you guess below.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Telling a Nature Story

For the last few years I have been fortunate to have robins make a nest and hatch their young ones outside my kitchen window. I set up my camera and take plenty of pictures.  Every morning though, before I set up my larger camera, I take a look inside the nest and take a few pictures using my point and shoot. I use my smaller camera because my larger camera would not be able to fit in this space and take photo like this:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

Apr 22 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

For these photos I am using the macro setting.  I choose the ISO; 800 seems to work well in terms of getting the color with out too much noise.

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

April 24 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

The first morning that there were two hatchlings.  These are approximately an hour old.  They hatched early, before there was enough light for photos, so I waited.

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/40

April 25 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/40

Just a day later, they had many more feathers and a new sibling.

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/100

April 26 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/100

After a few days, these three were doing well, but I was concerned about that last egg.  It had some imperfections on the shell, but it had grown some, so I was hopeful that it might just be a bit late.

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

April 28 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

By the time I took this photo it was four days after the first hatchlings made their appearence.  The egg does not look good.  Also, the other three birds are now strong enough to stick their heads up over the lip of the nest when the adult birds come to feed them. So, even if this last bird was to hatch, I suspect it would be too small to be able to get food.

Two days later the birds are much bigger and looking more like robins:

May 1 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

May 1 ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

It turns out that was the last photo of the babies I would get.  The next morning, this is what I found:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

No sign of the babies or the last unhatched egg.  I’m not sure what happened but my guess is that they were taken by another bird. I like doing projects like this, just documenting nature.  It isn’t always pretty.  Our nest last year had five successful hatchlings, four of which were then taken off by a hawk.  This post was written in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Spring.  A reminder perhaps that nature is both beautiful and brutal. What do you think of this type of project, do you find it difficult to stomach?  Let me know what you think of the photos or the project in the comment section below.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Brand New Robins in Black and White

I’m pretty excited to have a robin’s nest right outside my kitchen window.  I had been tracking the nest for days and thrilled to see that two have hatched. In addition to taking color photos I was interested to see what these birds would look like in black and white:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

At the time this photo was taken the babies had been hatched for at least 9 hours.  I had taken their picture earlier in the day and they were already bigger and had more feathers than my earlier shots.

I edited this photo in Photoshop.  I cropped the image then converted it to black and white, then I sharpened it.  Here is the original color version as it was straight out of the camera:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/400

What do you think?  It is more common to see an image like this in color, but do you like the black and white treatment? Feel free to leave a comment below

I wrote this post in part as a response to the theme of “small subjects” over at Cee’s Black and White Challenge. I’m not sure if I would have thought to convert this image to black and white if I had not seen her challenge, so I’d like to thank her for the idea.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photography

I settle the camera debate

Right, that post title is worth a laugh!

I guess the first question would be which camera debate I am even talking about.  In this case, I would be referring to the point and shoot vs. DSLR debate.  In this case the point and shoot wins, literally:

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/60

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/60

This photo, which I took with my Canon Powershot ELPH, won an honorable mention at my camera club nature competition last week.  I had considered attempting to get the shot with my Canon 50D, but it actually would not fit in this space to get a photo, so I switched to my point and shoot and got this photo.

This photo has been cropped.  The idea behind the nature category at my photo club is to leave the editing to a minimum and tell a nature story.  This photo is part of a story that unfolded in this nest this past spring. Other images from the story are here.

So, there you have it, the camera debate settled, point and shoot is better.  Well, in this case anyway!  Thoughts, comments? feel free to leave them below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photography

A Nest Update, A Survival Tale

If you have been following my robin’s nest story, this is an update that I will tell you right now is not all good news, in fact there is very little good news.  I just thought that I would put that out there first so that you can click away if you would like.

Here are the five healthy hatches on Thursday morning:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/200

On Friday morning a few of the birds had their eyes open:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

It was Saturday when we first noticed the falcon, or Cooper’s Hawk?  I say falcon, but the truth is we are still debating which type of bird this is that is preying on the robins. We were working in the yard and the birds around started going nuts.  We looked around and saw the falcon on the corner of our roof.  The robins and a few blackbirds chased it off and everything calmed down.

This afternoon we were again outside when we again heard the birds and saw the falcon.  My oldest child got this video of the falcon attacking the robin nest:

Here is the nest moments later:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/640

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/640

This robin could not have been any flatter or more still.  It was our guess that the falcon took one baby at this time.  It is not clear what happened to the three unaccounted for birds.  Sometime between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon they went missing.

Then the adult robins came back:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/200

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/200

Half an hour later here is the nest again:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/8 1/200

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/8 1/200

Empty.  I had my Canon 50D set up during the time that the last bird went missing.  My pictures do not shed any light on what happened to the baby. We also had a window open and didn’t hear anything.  Did the adults relocate the last baby?  At this point, that is what we suspect, so we go looking.  We notice an adult bird flying low into our hedgerow and we find the surviving baby.  When the adult leaves, I get a photo in the hedgerow:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50 flash used

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/50 flash used

I left the hedgerow and so did the robin, so I got this picture also:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/200

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/200

I told the robin to get back into the hedgerow, but more convincing was the fact that the adult robins came back and told the baby in no uncertain terms that it was to get back into the hedgerow.  So it did.

Well, I will be keeping an eye out for this little baby.  Our hedgerow is about the best place it could be right now, but until it can fly, it is still pretty vulnerable.  I will take pictures and write an update if I have anything further.

If you are new to this story, here are the other posts:

The story begins here and I explain how I am getting the pictures. The first update with five hatchlings is here.  The second update featuring a very crowded nest is here.

Comments? Questions? feel free to leave them below.  If you have a guess to what bird of prey we have in the video, feel free to say so and explain why you think so.

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