13 February 2021
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
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
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.
24 October 2020
24 September 2020
Field guides and online references suggested that this unexpected frame-crasher was in fact the Black-headed Gull that hadn't been seen in "real time" on the trip. (And, yes, its head wasn't Black as viewed, though it could have been if viewed in the different season and plumage for which it was named. Bird names are like that...) The group leaders, with far more years of birding expertise than I, agreed that it was.
This raises an intriguing question of just what it means to see or photograph something. The Gull in question was clearly in the frame of the camera that I was holding and aiming when I pressed the shutter. I'll conclude that I did "photograph" it, at least in the sense of collecting its image. I don't recall being consciously aware of its presence, though. The first time I distinctly "saw" it was later in the day, when I viewed the digitized bits on a screen. I do appreciate its surprise visit, though!
Photo-geeky PS: as I think about the image more, I'm increasingly amazed by it. This was taken with a long lens with aperture almost wide-open, for about 900mm full-frame equivalent focal length. The larger version as shown was itself cropped to about half the width of the entire image as photographed. All these factors mean a lot of magnification, with not much depth of field. The autofocus locked on the heron in the foreground. Still, the Black-headed Gull is in sharper focus than the Bonaparte's Gulls in the background. So, not only did it decide to fly in at the right time to appear above the heron in my image, but did so at the relatively narrow distance range that would cause it to appear other than as a blur. How improbable?