Winter means drab light and learning to use flash

Winter is here with overcast skies and flat light. Had to have a new battery put in my truck so stuck at home today rather than out chasing swans or looking for eagles.
Molly bought a flash as part of my birthday loot and I have been trying to learn how to use it. Flat light and small backyard birds should be a good learning situation, so I set up our portable blind and have began my education.

Winter also means we have to replenish our feeders more frequently. Molly is off to El Mel tomorrow to get more peanuts for the titmice, flickers, red bellied woodpeckers, along with the downy woodpeckers that show up. Doves, juncos, cardinals, house finches, chickadees and various sparrows have been showing up in ever increasing numbers. This means amending the monthly budget to include suet, safflower, raw peanuts and black oil sunflower seeds…..there goes the Social Security check. 🙂

Here are 3 “learning” images

More Swans and a Buck

Molly and I went out to The Heron Pond the other afternoon. Molly was going to use a 1.4 extender with the 500mm but she left it( the extender) at home, so she was a bit ‘focal length challenged’ for the location. South winds so we tried our hand at the end of Orton Road. Truly a different perspective. For those in the know, yeah, it is where the new structure is and no, the structure is not photographer friendly– might work for spotting scopes but it just doesn’t work for long lenses and trying to get flight shots.

Also, many of you know what the answer is if you try to get a special use permit to gain access inside the refuge area…..
unless of course you have an in with the right people….
and of course we don’t 🙂

In the words of that great American philosopher, Jeff Kezele, when he reported being turned down for said permit, “At least they were polite about saying no” 🙂 🙂 🙂

Had to dump files into the back up drives since we have pretty much filled up the laptop’s 1 terabyte hard drive. I guess with both of us banging away, we should have anticipated running out of room before the year’s end. Transferring the files as I type, so this will be a short post and a small gallery.

All images by Molly

Wide angle fall ‘colors’

Image

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge with "fall foliage" via Nik software

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge with “fall foliage” via Nik software

Last weekend, Molly was using a Canon 10mm-22mm on her 40D. It was a rental from Lensrentals.com ( we highly recommend this company) that we decided to experiment with it on the fall colors. Had the lens but the fall colors just were starting. Nevertheless, we forged on. It was a fun lens to use. Since we had to take Brandi back to Farmington, we planned to stop at Sandy Creek Covered Bridge on the way back to St. Louis. While on the road, Carolyn Schlueter called us via cell phone and we told her where we were headed. We told her to pack her kit and join us. She arrived shortly after Molly and I had unloaded the camera gear and we all had a great time trying to find some interesting angles of probably one of the most photographed places in Missouri.

Sunday, predawn, found us in Illinois on the “mountain” above the Pere Marquette State Park Lodge. This is one of Molly’s favorite trips of the year and we hoped for more color than what we found at Sandy Creek. The trees were just beginning to turn there as well. Not the explosion of color that we hoped for but you do what you can with what you have. After a chilly morning on the top, we headed down the “mountain” and had a hearty breakfast/brunch at the lodge. The food was good and the coffee was great.

Here are two shots from the trip–( we have a ton but it has been a busy week)
The bridge shot’s foliage was digitally ‘enhanced’ with NIK Color Effects Pro 4 (it was actually green). This is a different angle than the 20×30 print that I had framed for Molly but we hope to get back there when it snows…….anyway we gave it the “fall color treatment”.

The other image is from a frame Molly took just about the time the sun came over the ridge. Again NIK filters were used but with a very, very light touch. Looks kind of HDRish but I do like it and Molly thinks it ain’t bad either. I might have to have this one framed as well but this time I’ll do it— having it done by professional framers gets expensive real quick but it was 20 x 30 and deserved it.

I think the color will be better this weekend and we will see what we can get with our old 30-80 lens from the same spot– if it turns out well, we will post it as a side by side 🙂