05 September 2021

Virtual Aviary

I set my virtual aviary site up a couple of years ago, but hadn't set up a pointer to it here until now. It started as a learning exercise in Python and Django, but I've kept it live and growing as a vehicle to host my collection of bird photographs. It's been satisfying and informative to structure and apply a database to organize the images based on metadata, and to explore tradeoffs between appearance and functionality. I'd never have gotten to its current count of 231 photographed species in New England without the help and company of other birders, so am appreciative for that. 

02 June 2021


Wikipedia describes the coloration of this Common Nighthawk as cryptic. I don't read this usage as relating to cryptography, or to a type of crossword puzzle, but it is certainly well camouflaged as it sleeps during a morning.

23 March 2021


Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing, but this White-breasted Nuthatch does seem suitably enthusiastic for the season!

13 February 2021

Iridescence in flat light

A bit of a science project here. I was out yesterday when I saw a Bufflehead swimming on a river. I enjoy these small ducks, which somehow look particularly playful as we see them in the winter. The males are noted for the iridescent colors in the plumage on their heads, as in this example from last year, but that's usually only noticeable when they're viewed in sunlight from the right angle.

My weather yesterday afternoon was cloudy. Flat lighting. Still, I enjoyed taking pictures of the Bufflehead. When I uploaded and processed them, I was surprised to see that colors were still present, as shown below. It's a noisier image and the lighting's clearly less appealing, but I still found it interesting to be able to see and distinguish the magenta, green, and blue areas around the bird's head.

 Nice to know that iridescent color isn't wholly extinguished in shadow!

22 January 2021

US Capitol flags for inauguration

When I watched this week's inauguration, I noted that there were five flags hanging from the US Capitol, but that only one was the current 50-star version. I wondered why, and was intrigued by the explanation I found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_Ross_flag. Apparently, every presidential inauguration displays Betsy Ross' 13-star flag, with its stars arranged in a circle, and there were two of these. There were also two copies of another 13-star flag, though. What were those about? It seems that each inauguration gets a flag of the version that was current when the incoming president's home state joined the union, and Delaware was one of the original 13 colonies. Barack Obama's inauguration, in contrast, featured a 21-star flag reflecting Illinois' later admission. I had not known that. 

24 December 2020

Details from the depths

After returning from a photo shooting session yesterday, I found that I had a sequence of a few shots in the middle that were drastically underexposed, though those before and after were fine. I believe that I inadvertently pressed the AE-Lock button for a few seconds, holding the exposure that would have been appropriate for reflected sun on a patch of water. The results manifested with auto-ISO sensitivity at the camera's minimum ISO setting of 100, while surrounding frames auto-set to ISO 400 or 500 along with a similar shutter speed and aperture. In any case, it's hard to identify the birds in this image as Black Scoters because, well, almost everything is black. 

Was there much data collected within the darkness, though? I opened the image in RawTherapee and applied 3 stops of exposure compensation, yielding the following:

Quite a bit more to see there. I'm impressed. There's some noise to be seen, and I certainly wouldn't make a intentional practice of underexposing by 3 stops, but it's nice to see that it's still possible to extract a decent image.