Word and Image

Birds

A few

Way back in the beginning… back in 2011, I started this blog. It was free. Free is for me! I’m not selling anything. No $ either way, in either direction. Not true, I pay a fee for extra memory (on the site) nowadays. There are ads, a few, not my doing, not mine (ads). Essentially, free. Followers, a lot of commercial WordPress sites these days, fishing for business. Followers, a few, to whom I imparted the blog address. There are few enough followers who have found me from around the world. But indeed, there have been visitors from around the world. Ah, the power of the internet! I do not seek fame. I merely share thoughts and photos. I’m better than average and less than great. I am not the best in my family but better than most. My own kids have produced 5 star pics on their iPhones! It’s not common, so, the body of my work is technically better. But, then art was never about quantity. Quality can show up in a single image. Colleen’s kids – Emma has more photography experience. But, even Jess and Ian have shown that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Even though I take great shots, it’s just not every day. But every day, I take shots.


Déjà vu … again

As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.

Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.


Almost

The blue heron stood long enough for me to get shots. And, I could see him gather up to take flight. My timing was off by just a little. So, instead of a great shot, I got an ordinary slightly out of focus slightly blurred shot. Almost. Not bad though, I had asked the camera, lens, and shutter to do an impossible job from a long way off. We are having a discussion because I managed to get something. If it had been a great shot, I would not have to apologize for the miss. I’m mortal. And, this is not my day job.


Ruby throat

Not my best effort – yet. There are two hummingbirds. The black head is a mature ruby throated hummingbird. You can see the ruby when it stretches its neck. The other bird with the tan neck is a juvenile. How do I know? Colleen looked it up. Ha! The hummingbird feeder has paid dividends within days after I hung it. I hope to get more shots and with more detail. No complaints. So far so good. Thank you, Jess!


Limit

What’s yours? The limit of enlarging an image is multi-factorial. The quality of the source image counts. This is dependent upon camera, lens, and focus. There’s more but it would be boring to get too much more technical. Meanwhile, the red wing blackbird in flight was fortuitous. I could have done better. But the moment came and went. I did not have the right equipment. But you can see the color of the bird in flight. To me, it looks orange in my picture. But in other views, we saw the characteristic red color. At the end of the day, the image ain’t perfect. But otherwise, we’d have nothing to talk about. I got the dang bird in flight!


Rotation

I have cameras. They are smaller than spinning wheels. And, they (cameras) are smaller than looms and great wheels. This does not mean that I don’t have a lot (of cameras). It just means they are more discrete. I have a series (of cameras) that I rotate in use. Each has its own characteristics, and therefore, its use in certain situations. It would be boring to wax poetic over each (camera’s) special or general use. Suffice to say that Colleen’s picture illustrates one “signature” spinning wheel, one loom, and two great wheels, all of which take up (all) the available space in our (her) living room. Three cameras take up a portion of one table that does not have fiber upon it. Which is to say, that the missing camera (I took this photo with it) is my new spiffy Nikon Z5. Yes, one must always keep up with tech. It is the replacement to my trusty Nikon D610, that I purchased when Colleen and I first met. I will not be replacing Colleen anytime soon. I say this upon pain of death. Ha ha. (KIDDING!).

This new camera does take great shots. I’ve been waiting to get the red wing blackbird with its red chevron – only to find, it is orange – and shot with my Sony RX100 VI. The swallow? A crow decimated their nest last spring. I hope they have returned to nest once more. Mix and match, each instrument for its purpose. When you you need a hammer, a screw driver might do if nothing else is at hand. Macro? The right lens is definitely a plus – helpful! But you can do it with or without. I love to learn new tricks. A new camera? A new lens? Is it an excuse? Or, is it inspiration to explore new possibilities? Whatever! I rotate and I use whatever is at hand that will achieve what I imagine. Sometimes it works. Do we need all those spinning wheels? Ha ha. I would not presume to answer that question. But I do know, it’s a whole lot of fun to have the tools you need at hand. … now to talk Colleen into needing a Tesla.


I did it again

Would you believe this? It’s not as good as the last one I got. It’s unexpected (again). Twice? Bird in flight! Neat! Yes, this is not the first time you have seen a bird in flight. There are many more pics of birds in flight and many better than mine. But this is my shot. It’s rare; it ain’t easy to get; and I was lucky enough to do it twice. Well, I can recall others I have shot. But this is still hard to do, and rare. I could say it was all intentional and the shutter speed was set to get the wings in a blur…. but, no, it was just luck. Struck by lightning – twice!


Luck

How lucky can you be? Sometimes, I think I close my eyes, press the shutter, and hope for the best. It works sometimes. Hey hey! Even a blind squirrel gets a nut – sometimes. Our squirrel is back, but, that’s another story. And what do you know?! I got the cardinal in flight – and in focus! That is terrific in my book! I’m tickled even if you have seen birds in flight before. It ain’t easy! And, to be honest, I was pressing the shutter as he took flight. Pure luck!


Pigeon?

Ok I’ve lost it. Is this really worth a post? Pigeons? If you live in New York City… There are so many better things to speak of and to illustrate. Pigeons in the country? They were out of place on the roof with the solar panels. Suburbia! Pigeon? They were out of place in my neighborhood and Colleen exclaimed when she saw them sauntering on the roof next door. Lost, they were far from home. Fly away.


Cheer at the bird feeder

Pine siskin, pine warbler, and house finch are in the neighborhood. Hey! It’s neat to see birds we don’t see every day. In fact, I did not know they were natives around here. Ha ha. They have been here longer than I have. Colleen looked them up in our trusty bird guide. We matched the pictures to the names. That’s our story and we are stickin’ with it. Nutley, though he would like, does not get to romp with the birds.


Bird TV returns

I have nothing against squirrels. They gotta eat too. I was tired of the fact that the squirrels were a bit piggish about hogging all the bird food. Colleen was brilliant. Move the feeders. Duh! They are on the front balcony. They squirrels can’t climb there. Bird TV returns!


Around the bird feeder

I was keeping to posting one picture a day. Now, I cheat. I can get around my own rule by making a collage layout. Hey! I have too many images and so little time! The bird feeder is shared by one and all. The birds, a few, eat. The cats have Cat TV. The squirrels disrupt the whole show. (Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too.) My cat Nutley has now been trained (by me!) to go chase the squirrel and then return to the home so I don’t have to get cold on the deck. Ha! (I have to chase Nutley inside, instead.) And, the bonus, I get to take pictures of the proceedings. Colleen has to cajole me daily to go feed the birds. Who knew this could be so much work (fun?)?


Evolution

How many outstanding pictures do I have? How many stories are there? At one picture a day…. one story at a time? I’ve been at it for nearly 10 years. It must be quite a collection spanning a decade of change. People come and go. Changes large and small occur. Relationships change. 2011, I was in NY working in NJ. I had rediscovered a long lost cousin, Amy. John had fallen ill. I had been in touch with Colleen to lose her again until 2014. I had never traveled to the Middle East. Scuba diving was on my bucket list. One great shot – there are so many, or, so few – or would it be an essay story of illustrations? Hey! I never work with a plan. I’m just trying to get from here to there. Where? Dunno!? I’m more of, make lemonade if you get lemons, kind of guy. Story or the image. Image or the story. It’s all good right now, in this place.


Cat TV

There is dynamic interaction between my cats, the birds, and a family of squirrels. I feed the birds. Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too! So they do – the squirrels are all over the bird feeders. Everyone eats. I favor the birds. The cats enjoy the show. They are participating too. Nutley will go out on command and vainly chase after the squirrels. He returns when I call him back. Me? I photograph. I have to say that the darn Sony RR100 VI has a lens that is as good a telephoto as I would want in such a compact camera. Voila! Instant story!


Hidden gem

I’m scanning old slides. Mostly it’s sentimental – family shots. An aside – I thought I was a pretty good photographer. Boy! What experience teaches you about life!. My scanner does its job according to calculated algorithms. Sometimes good, sometimes not. I glanced at the preview just as it made an adjustment leaving the image washed out. I quickly processed the image rescuing my imagination. Under any other circumstance the potential of this slide would have been lost in a mass edit. Gee, I was not so bad as I feared.


Osprey II

This is a redo. I got shots of the nest a while back. I just stopped by the roadside and let the traffic behind weave around me. This time I pulled off the road once again. The sun was wrong. There were three – a juvenile and two adults? It was worth the stop. Sometimes you take what you can get or we have nothing to speak about, or, to look at.


Puffin

Nothing is so valuable as something that took a lot to accomplish. I was on my 4th try. The other attempts to photograph the puffins had been utter failure. Ok! I was in the bird blind until they dragged me out. Things were not perfect. I had forgotten my big telephoto lens at home. All was not lost. One can always make do. I did. It was memorable. It was my one and only time.


5 star

This next few days are about 5 star pics. They are in my catalog going back years. How did we get to 5 star? My picking method varies enough that there are plenty of worthy pics that aren’t labeled 5 but should be. Here are some that have 5 stars and to me are memorable. I start with a fish and a bird. It’s rare and for me, nearly never, that I was there at the exact moment to see the catch. Not so good for the fish, I suppose. But I was glad to have gotten the shot.


Osprey – two

Look closely. The second head is peeking just under the right wing on the left. Ha ha, your other right, it’s the left of the picture. I stopped short, backed up, and drew angry gestures from passing bikers who had to swerve around my car parked on the grass at the roadside. Hey! I got the shot.


Who’s it for?

Philosophical? Is there a need in me to leave a legacy? Pictures on the ‘net are forever. I wonder? Why do I blog? It was a long time ago and I was encouraged by Amy and supported by many… – Colleen. It’s better than writing a tell all horror memoir of the training and career of my life as a neurosurgeon. Musing. I get to photograph a lot of subjects that have/had passing interest. And by sharing, I hope that some who visit will appreciate the beauty I have seen.


Right place…

…right time. Margie came over for a visit. Her pedigree was uncertain so we ‘masked.’ It was blazing hot and 100% humidity. We sat on the deck and sweltered in place. It was horrible. Colleen hates being hot and sweaty. Funny! She didn’t crack a bead of sweat. So, there we were. I was hot melting in place and the ruby throated hummingbird made an appearance. A few shots, wrong camera, no time, I got what I could. Not bad, eh? Eh?!!!


Ruby throated

Hummingbird. In flight. Ho hum…. It’s a BIG freakin’ deal!! If you are the consumer, pics like these are a dime a dozen. Someone has come before and patients sat and waited and waited. Amazing! They got a shot and it’s commonplace enough that … yawn. It’s not an easy shot. No way! I got one. The circumstances were just perfect. It won’t happen again for me. That’s what makes this so special.


Right tool

The Sony RX 100 M6 has replaced my big Nikon 80-400 zoom lens. Why? ‘cause it’s on hand and available. I have to go find my big DSLR. Ok, enough with the tech stuff. I have to admit the zoom can pull in faraway objects clearly better than an iPhone can do. Simple. Need a telephoto shot? I can get it with the spiffy point and shoot camera nearby at hand. Meanwhile, the blue heron had landed nearby. Not too close nearby, so it was accommodating and waited while I got the camera and got my shots. I feel so fortunate to be able to get the shot and that I had a camera capable to do it. Sometimes that iPhone just doesn’t have the reach you need.


Chicken or egg

It’s not my first time…. passing this farm. The farmer leaves the door open. I never stopped before. I was unsure. It’s confirmed now. It leaves/left me uncomfortable. Do you really want to see how chickens are treated? It was a beautiful spring day – sunny with a gentle breeze. Caged! Prisoners! Captive! Humanely treated? It’s vaguely discomforting. I eat chicken and eggs. I don’t think about the process. Would I? Should I? … it made Colleen a vegetarian.