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

On Top of my Electric Meter

Every spring for the last three years there is a robin nest on top of my electric meter.  As a photographer, I love it when my subject comes to me and sets itself up perfectly.  I wrote a bit about what my set-up to get these photos looks like last week.  Here is a photo from yesterday:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/100

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/100

If you took a look at my set-up, you would probably have guessed that I have a remote shutter hooked up to my camera.  That makes it possible for me to set up my camera, then come back inside to take the photos.  So on mornings like this I come into my kitchen to start the day and wait for her to leave the nest which she does at a fairly regular time.  While she is gone I go out with my ladder and point and shoot camera to get a photo like this:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/30

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/30

I then put that away and drag out my chairs, tripod, and large camera.  By the time I have done that, she is usually back. I go inside so she will get back on the nest and I can take my photos.  Then I wait for her to again leave the nest and I retrieve my equipment.

When it comes to editing these photos, I do very little.  At least at first I am making more documentary style photos than artistic ones.  The photo of the robin on the nest has been cropped.  I did a levels adjustment in Photoshop to push in the whites a bit.  Then I sharpened it.  The egg photo was not cropped.  I did a levels adjustment to push in the blacks a bit and then I sharpened it.

As this project progresses I will be blogging about it and posting photos.  I also put a photo or two on Twitter and will be adding to that, so if you want to check that out, you can find me @marantophoto. Questions or comments about my photos, editing, or set up?  Feel free to leave them below.  If you have a post related to robins feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments as well.

This post was written in part as a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Cheers!

 

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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument to Photography

There is a lot going on in my backyard this week.  Some robins have built a nest so I am busy photographing their efforts.  It looks a bit ridiculous but here is what the set up looks like:

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

I’ll call it my monument to photography.  Yes, those are the “good” dining room chairs.  It’s a temporary monument, I set it up, take my photos then take it down.  Here is a photo I got this morning:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

At this point there are two eggs in the nest.  I’ll be experimenting with different camera angles over the next few weeks in the hope of getting some good photos.  This photo was cropped and sharpened, here is what the original shot looked like:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

I am so excited that the robins are back and building here. If you are interested in seeing where this project led last year, you can click here.

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, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

In the early morning, I sometimes take my camera out to my hedgerow. We have a lot of wildlife living there.  But on the morning a few weeks ago that I got this photo, I went out because from my kitchen window I could see this robin fledgling:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5 1/100

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5 1/100

Since it is learning to fly, there is still the opportunity to get fairly close them.  I will show the original photo at the bottom of the post, so you will see that by cropping the photo I made it seem like I was even closer.  I also mention the cropping because when I saw this through the view finder I knew that I would crop it.  First because some of the surrounding detail was distracting and secondly because this robin is pretty much exactly on a point for the rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds is a photography rule that I don’t always follow, but I almost always consider.

The weekly photo challenge this week is the golden hour. This photo was taken in the early morning of an overcast day.  The challenge was to get the robin at such an angle, so that it was lit enough to show the detail in the feathers.  I also like to be able to see at least one eye, preferably with a catch light in it.  This photo was the one where that came together.  I have several other versions that went into the trash bin.  Because it was still a bit dark, I used an ISO of 800.  I think that my camera can handle that with almost no noise in the final image.  I set my shutter speed to 1/100 with the thought of freezing any motion in the bird.  I have my f-stop at f/5, because I thought I would get enough detail in the bird, and as I had said before, I knew I was going to do some cropping.

Here is the original image:

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5 1/100

ISO 800 50mm 0ev f/5 1/100

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I like to follow the robins that live in my area.  While our nest by the kitchen this year had a bittersweet end to it, I have been glad to see that we do have several robin fledglings that seem to be doing well in the hedgerow.

Thoughts or questions about how I got the photo? 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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50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photography

A Nest Update, Is there Enough Space?

When this nest was built, the first thing I noticed about it was that it was deeper than last year’s nest, but more narrow.  So, I was a bit concerned when I saw five eggs, I was wondering if there would be enough space for everyone.  It was amusing to see this photo when the adult robins were off the nest:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/160

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/160

You could fit a few more in there the way they are all crowded together.  It is a good way to keep everyone warm while Mom is away though.  I took this with my Canon Powershot on May 7th.  A bit later with my 50D, I got this shot:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/100

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/100

It looks like the food is being inserted directly into the baby’s stomach doesn’t it?  You can see a bit of leftover shell attached to the nest as well.  That is interesting to me because usually the adults get rid of all the shell pieces right away.

This next series of three shots were taken on May 8th, all with my 50D:

ISO 640 50mm 0 ev f/6.3 1/200

ISO 640 50mm 0 ev f/6.3 1/200

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/200

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/200

Looks like a tug of war there!

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/200

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/200

Looks like a couple of the babies are getting a bit squished.

Thanks to everyone who is following along, your comments are always appreciated.  If you are new to this story, here are some other installments: How I am getting these shots and some freshly hatched shots are here.  My first update is here.

Cheers!

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