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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer birds in sun and shadows

Now that we plan to get a jump on winter by traveling to our second home in Illinois, it's nice to look back on some random images from our south Florida neighborhood and local wetlands.

During the rainy season the sunrise over our back yard lake can be spectacular as moisture moves in from the ocean, 18 miles to the east. This iPhone shot was taken on September 9, 2014.

Sunrise iPhone 20140908

Walking out early around sunrise presents problems of insufficient light for photography, as I have fallen out of the habit of bringing my flash unit. Many of my early morning photos look more like silhouettes, like this one of a Green Heron. Its profile is unique and does not require any other details to establish its identity.

Green Heron 20130907

This Bald Eagle is presumably one of the pair that has a nest about 2 miles NW of where it flew overhead about 15 minutes after sunrise. This photo, also taken on September 9, turned out soft and dark, requiring sharpening as well as brightening a full 2 stops. 

Bald Eagle 20140909

A Loggerhead Shrike also came out too dark against the gray sky, but the photo was enhanced by the absence of shadows due to the filtered sunlight  behind me. It cleared up quite nicely, but don't look too closely.  

Loggerhead Shrike 2-20140909

The day before, a pair of Northern Flicker males displayed in full sun as they competed for the attention of a female who looked on. Shadows and overly bright highlights now detract from the image quality.

Northern Flicker male 2-20140908

Northern Flicker males 20140908

Northern Flicker male 3-20140908

That same day, my photos of a Brown Thrasher in heavy shade turned out remarkably well. Since a childhood  encounter with one at a nest I have felt intimidated by their fierce-looking yellow eyes. Thank to image stabilization, the hand-held photo taken with my 420 mm lens came out well with minimal processing, despite being shot at shutter speed of 1/125 second, ISO 3200, and f/5.6. 

Brown Thrasher 4-20140908

Brown Thrasher 5-20140908

A large gathering of Black Vultures at the local soccer field had the look and stench of death. I processed this photo without color.

Black Vultures gathering 20140907

Close up, one vulture's facial textures are enhanced by sun and shadow.

Black Vulture portrait  20140907

A Wood Stork in our back yard on September 8th bears some resemblance. Indeed taxonomists now classify storks and vultures as close relatives.

Wood Stork portrait 20140908

Early morning back-lighting helps define the plumage textures of white birds, such as the stork and a White Ibis nearby.

Wood Stork 2-20140908

White Ibis 20140908

A Tricolored Heron was also foraging close by. If I had a wide-angle lens I could have captured all three in one frame.

Tricolored Heron 2-20140908

The waders gathered where a Double-crested Cormorant was fishing just offshore. Perhaps its activity was driving small fish to the periphery of the lake.

Double-crested Cormoranr 20140908

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crops & Clips: Eagles and clouds

My weekly potpourri gathered from the archives features spreading wings and scary skies.

CRITTER: Spreading wings

Bald Eagle
January 12, 2013, Pembroke Pines, Florida

Bald Eagle spreading wings CROP HDR 20120116

Linking to CAMERA CRITTERS and



FENCES: Illinois Backyard

American Robin with a worm
May 4, 2014, Batavia, Illinois

American Robin male 20140504

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 


SKYWATCH: Scary skies

Shelf Cloud, over our condo, north end
North Aurora, Illinois, June 29, 2012

Cloud North End HDR 20120629

Shelf Cloud, south end
North Aurora, Illinois, June 29, 2012

Cloud South End HDR 20120629

Linking to Skywatch Friday 


REFLECTIONS: Back yard lake

Tricolored Heron
November 11, 2011, Miramar, Florida

Tricolored Heron 20111120