Saturday, October 25, 2008

Camera Critter Meme #29

Many moons ago, my only concern when I was out on photo safaris was to shoot birds. I loved photographing birds and still do.

Most of the time, I try to get the birds perched or on the ground. I almost have to do that, since my camera, the original Digital Rebel, has very slow focusing. However, when it does focus, and especially with the lens I currently use on it, the images are often tack sharp.

But I also like to get my bird photos while they are flying. It's difficult, but I have managed to do it and have gotten pretty good at it at the same least I think I have.

Below are some of my favorite in-flight shots.

Great Blue Heron at Fireman's Pond

Tree Swallows near the old golf course

Mountain Bluebird near the fairgrounds

Killdeer at my sister's place

Yellow-headed Blackbird at Fireman's Pond

Raven near the airport

Rough-legged Hawk near Powell Butte

And now, my two favorite flight shots of birds of all time. Both shots were taken during the winter time frame, and with both of them, I didn't know what I had until I got home and put them on the computer.

Dark Morph Red-tailed Hawk near Powell Butte

Bald Eagle over Lake Billy Chinook

I hope everyone enjoyed these shots. The one above is my all time favorite. It has all the elements I like best in a photo. The bird and a great background. 'Nuff said. 8v)

If you liked my critter photos, head to Misty Dawn's Camera Critter page and check out some of the other entries. And if you have the time, join in on the fun!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Camera Critter Meme #28

Whenever I am out on safari, I look for interesting things the critters around me are doing. It can be almost anything as the past couple of CCM posts of mine have shown. This week, it's one of my favorites...multiples.

I love getting more than one species of critter in my photos...and the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. Below are some of my favorite 'party' shots.

Is this the Pollen Anonymous Meeting?

Last one to the bottom is a Stink Bug

Lost to a Crab embarrassing

Mind if I play through?

Hey buddy! Can ya spare a dime?

Oh my! It is a BEE! I'm allergic!

At least he's crying too...(sniff sniff)

If you enjoyed my entry for Misty Dawn's Camera Critter Meme, check out more entries here. If you like what you see, let the person know...better yet...add your own!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Photography 101 - Ashrunner Style

Before I begin talking about my photos and all, a little bit of background on my style of shooting is needed. I am constantly watching, checking, reading up digital photography. Mostly to keep up with the latest gear, but also to find out what other photographers are doing.

When I first started in digital photography, I had a Sony Mavica FD-91. I could fit on the average, 7 of largest sized images it took on a 1.44 meg 3.5 inch floppy drive. So I carried a whole bunch of floppies with me when I went out shooting. I had no reason to worry about image format.

Later I upgraded to a Minolta DiMAGE 7i. With that camera, I could save images in either TIFF or Minolta RAW format. However, I had no idea of what the difference I began reading up on the formats and what I can do with them.

I came to the following conclusions.

First, TIFF when saved in a lossless format, are probably the largest files a camera can produce. I also determined that if I shot an image worth printing somewhere, a TIFF would, and generally is the format asked for.

Second, a photographer can do anything with a RAW file. What do I mean by "anything"? Simply this -- if I need a JPG, I can convert it to a JPG; if I need a TIFF, I can convert a RAW file to TIFF; if I need a certain color space, I can convert a RAW file to required color space.

Since coming to those conclusions, I rarely save my images in any format other than RAW.

These days, I shoot with a Canon Digital Rebel. Yes, the six megapixel imaging box which started the digital revolution. I like the camera. It has size, it has the right weight, and it shoots excellent images. From the first day I got the camera, it's been set on RAW for the file format and only changed to JPG for shots taken for other people.

I also shoot my images with everything set on the default settings. I don't add sharpness, or saturation or anything inside the camera...except in the cases when I shoot JPG...a bit of sharpening is added. But with my RAW shots, I also under expose by one third a stop. Yes, you read third of a stop.

The day I first read about the hacked BIOS for a Canon Digital Rebel, I found it, downloaded it and installed it. I haven't left home without it ever since. It has added so much to my camera. Among the additions was the ability to make exposure adjustments in one third increments, mirror lock up capability and other additions which I set and forgot.

But back to the one third stop underexposure. I do this to prevent blown out highlights. I live a desert environment and the light here is bright. The camera itself does a fabulous job of setting the exposure, but to be on the safe side, I underexpose that one third stop.

I also shoot in Aperture Priority and Manual 95 percent of the time. When shooting Aperture Priority, I set the aperture at f/8 and shoot away. When shooting manual, I use the Sunny 16 Rule and compensate for the light conditions accordingly. Read about Sunny 16 here.

When I do shoot in Manual, my camera is set to ISO 100, Aperture at f/8 and Shutter to 1/400. I use f/8 for most of my images as I have found the lens I shoot with 95 percent of the time, produces the sharpest images at f/8. Changing the aperture to f/7.1 or f/9 (one third stops up and down) doesn't change much for the images, so if I need a bit faster shutter, I drop the aperture to f/7.1 and if I want a slight increase in depth of field, I'll move up to f/9, or even f/10 or f/11.

So to review, I shoot with a 6 megapixel Canon Digital Rebel. I save my images in the RAW format. I set my camera to Aperture Priority and f/8 or Manual at f/8 aperture and a shutter speed of 1/400. I shoot 75 percent of the time at ISO 100, and as light fades, I move to ISO 200. These two ISO settings are the least noisy settings on my camera.

I realize a lot of people will disagree with what I have said above. I'm sorry, but I could care less what they think. The above works for me and hopefully, my images will bore this out.

In the future, I plan to talk about my workflow as it relates to digital photography. This will include the programs I use and some of the process I use to "develop" my files.

I hope I have covered my shooting style background in an understandable and complete way. If I haven't please leave a note to that effect and I'll see what I can do. Also, if you are curious about something I haven't covered, shoot a question my way. As my friends know, I am always willing to share what I know to help others.

Until the next installment of Photography 101 - Ashrunner Style...enjoy what you see here.

It's All in the Name

Regular followers of my blog -- all two or three of you -- may have noticed I changed its name.

When I first started this blog, I thought Ashrunner's Rants would be a good way to describe what I would do with words here. However, every time I got to ranting about something, and yes, I do get to ranting once in a while, I ended deleting the post because I really didn't want to piss anyone off.

Since I have mostly talked about things I have done in my past, and passed on some of the images I see in my everyday world, I decided a new name was in order.

Hence, Ashrunner's World.

My world is a wonderful world. I have the greatest friend I could have asked for with me in it, I have Mother Nature following me around, showing me just how gorgeous she is and I have my critters.

And my past! I could not have asked for a better life to have lived. I just hope the future continues to be as least for me. 8v)

So with the change of name, I'm going to change the focus. These days, one of the most important things in my life, is my photography. will soon become, if it hasn't already, a photoblog. And no...there aren't enough photoblogs on the net.

Each and every image taken is but a momentary slice of time which will never be duplicated. Well, maybe a still-life could duplicate a previous moment, but I'm talking real world imaging. It is almost impossible for me to not want to see the various time slices from around the world. And I will be proudly showing my time slices at the same time.

But along with the images I take, I plan to talk about the shot. What I did to get it, what I did in post processing after transferring the image to my computer and finally, a little about what is seen in the photo.

You see, to me, something like a photoblog should not only be entertaining, but also educational. I want anyone who reads my blog to move on knowing they learned something...or that I was able to add to their knowledge of something.

I promise I will provide factual information. And if I am incorrect on something, more than one research source is also wrong.

So...stop by now and then...look at what I offer and enjoy your stay. Check out my past posts and get to know me. And hopefully, you'll learn something at the same time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Camera Critter Meme #27

One of the best things about being a nature photographer, is you get to learn a lot about the critters you see most often. For this week's Camera Critter Meme, I would like to show how various insects in my part of the country, mate.

First is a pair of Common Ringlets. I came across this pair along the Dry Canyon Trail in Redmond, Oregon, last year. I first saw the pair flying around and couldn't figure what it was...until they landed near me.

Continuing with critters found along the Dry Canyon Trail, a few weeks ago, I hit the jackpot, so to speak, of finding mating pairs. On a blooming sage brush, I found this pair of Soldier Beetles. They seemed to know what they were doing.

Not far away, on some wild oats, I noticed a pair of Shield Bugs doing what comes natural.

Then, as I was heading up the stairs which allow access to the canyon, something told me to go back and look closer at the base of the steps. I'm glad I did, for I never would have seen this pair of Robber Flies in the process of mating.

The next critter is the Western Meadowhawk. It is a common odonata in my area and can be found near water and in arid areas. I found this pair at Fireman's Pond.

Several days after seeing the meadowhawk pair, I noticed a pair of Blue-eyed Darners in the reeds along the pond. Notice the difference in positioning for the activity.

And finally, as I was walking along the far side of Fireman's Pond last summer, I noticed an attached pair of bluets flying low over the water. I watched the pair head towards me and land on the remains of a nearby plant. With camera in hand, I was able to capture this sequence of events as a pair of mating Tule Bluets proved, that even in the insect world, mating is an an act of love.

I hope you enjoyed my entry for Misty Dawn's Camera Critter Meme. If so, check out more entries here. If you like what you see, let the person know...better yet...add your own!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Camera Critter Meme #26

As I have mentioned in several past Camera Critter Meme posts, I enjoyed the time I spent in Texas in April 2007. From the butterflies, to the dragonflies, to the birds, it was a blast. However, one of the best places I visited is the subject of this week's post.

The morning was spent at Lost Maples State Natural Area (where a number of my past CCM photos were taken) and the afternoon at Garner State Park, along the Frio River. After having a late lunch, we headed off towards the Frio River Bat Cave to witness the emergence of bats from a cave on private property.

For a per person fee, visitors can watch as millions of Brazilian Free-tail bats take flight on summer nights to head for their hunting grounds. It's estimated that the cave is host to more than 12 million bats.

The bat cave

As the sun begins to settle, a few bats will venture outside and go on the hunt. But those few are nothing compared to what comes out moments later. I had been told what to expect, but nothing can prepare a person for the number of bats which suddenly appear and spiral into the air.

And out they come

And as the bats showed, so did the predators. Hawks of various types, including Crested Caracara, Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson's Hawks and various species of falcons, descended on the flocks of bats. The birds would grab a bat in mid-air with its talons, take a few bites out of it on the wing, drop the remains and go for another. This lasted for as long as the bats emerged from the cave. It was an amazing sight to witness. However, you did need to watch out for falling bat debris.

A Broad-wing Hawk joins the feast

As the colony exit the cave, they would gather in separate groups and head off in different directions. The individual colonies are so large, they can be seen as a smudge on the horizon long after they have left the area of the cave.

The bats depart for nightly hunting grounds

The bats migrate to several caves in the Texas area every spring. The Frio River Bat Cave is the second larget colonies in the World. These flying mammals move to the caves from Mexico to birth and raise their pups. Then head south again in late summer.

If you ever in the area of Concan, Texas on a warm, summer evening, take the time to head to the cave. It will be well worth it.

If you enjoy photos of critters, please stop by Misty Dawn's Camera Critter Meme check out the posts. Better yet...join in the fun.