Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eagle Season

Late December through January is usually an awesome time to find many Bald Eagles along the northern portion of the Delaware River and along some of the reservoir inlets in southern New York State. This year is truly an anomaly.  The weather has been extremely warm for this time of year for the past two months and it has drastically impacted on the eagle behavior.  Normally by now the northern part of the Delaware River and the lakes and reservoirs north of there have frozen over forcing Bald Eagles to fly to areas of open water to feed.  Joan and I spent two days with friends in the upper Delaware area to find and photograph Bald Eagles.  We saw about 15 eagles on Thursday and a half dozen on Friday.  This is to be compared with normally seeing about 50 per day this time of year.  The other thing is that other years we have been able to see and photograph up close as they are forced to open water areas to feed.  This year they can be seen but are at greater distance from good viewing areas.  

As we were leaving the area to come home-one perched on a tree across the Lackawaxen River and I was able to get some good photos with good filtered light (lightly overcast skies).

Until next time!
Jim Borden

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Went out this day before Christmas to find owls, hawks, eagles and song birds.  Saw many birds, but most did not want to cooperate today.  This Northern Cardinal decided he liked me and gave me a number of poses all with a cluttered background and foreground. But,  alas he is the color of Christmas and he was so cooperative, I just had to use him for the blog to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Until Next Time!

Jim Borden

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snowy Owl

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 w2xtc @f9 1/1000 ISO 640 EC-.67

Joan and I had never seen a snowy owl and for the past few winters we have been watching bird lists for sightings that would be a reasonable drive.  To our surprise one had been sighted within two hours of us in November and it was still there.  We took the drive on Saturday December 3.  We walked about 1 1/2 miles to the area where the owl is staying and set up to take photos.  We had bright skies and it was cold with gusty winds.  The owl was about 150 yards from us and there was no way to close the distance without potentially disturbing the owl.  There were large rocks between us and the owl and with the sun beating on them it made for lots of mirage so getting decent images was very tough.  Compounding that, I found that I was not getting sharp images not explained by the mirage.  The lens/camera setup had been calibrated at about 70 degrees F and I had used at 50 with slight shift in focal plane.  Now at 40 F the lens was very badly back focusing.  So, I  kept adjusting the lens ma on the camera until I got sharp images and was able to get some decent shots. The following is an example-it has been severely cropped due to the distance away. I had to move the lens ma setting from a +2 to a -5!
Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 w1.4xtc @f 1/800 ISO 1250 EC-.3

This morning (Sunday December 4) I left early so that I could be there at first light to reduce mirage. I had found an optional place to park last evening to cut the walk from 1 1/2 miles to about 1/2 mile and to also provide an opportunity to get closer to the owl without disturbing it.  When I parked, I found the remnants of a dead coot that was not there last night.  It appears the owl had duck for dinner after dark last night.  I was able to get in better position for her today and the air and ground temperatures were closer to being the same which kept the mirage under control.  I installed the 2X TC on the lens and calibrated it on the owl by taking a few shots. The image at the top of the page was done with that setup at about 50 to 60 yards. The following image was one of a series of bursts that I did when he was scratching the back of his head.  If you look closely at this image and the image at the top of the page, you can see blood in his feathers around the mouth-I am quite sure it is from his duck meal.  

Canon 1D MK IV; Canon 600 f4 w1.4xtc @f6.3 1/2000 ISO 640 EC-.67
This was a lifer for me!

Until next time

Jim Borden
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