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Recent Processing: 2022 Week 18

May 15, 2022
© Jim Miller- Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Webb County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 600mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/250 at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1155
Image Size in Portfolio: 4193×3354

As I teased last weekend, I spent the first week in May down in South Texas on my annual photo swing.

I’m very much skipping through the three photo shoots that I was able to accomplish while I was back in the Lone Star State. I still need to go and do a “No Kidding” thorough scrub through the shoots to pick the images I will work in the future. But I haven’t done that yet. So probably for the next couple of weeks you will get splatters of images from all three shoots until I return to my normal modus operandi and do things in a more structured sort of way.

For this installment, as I usually do, I will structure the images I present in individual shoots, even though the image numbering will not be sequential.

The trip started with a visit to Butch Ramirez at the Rocking R6 Ranch. A shooting day report to follow eventually (preview: It was awesome), but I didn’t want to wait on sharing these images. The afternoon portion of the shoot was great for Greater Roadrunners (Meep Meep). I’ve just started to scratch the surface on the images I made, but I did add three to the portfolio.

© Jim Miller- Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Webb County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 329mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/250 at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1150
Image Size in Portfolio: 3648×4560

© Jim Miller- Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Webb County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 256mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/250 at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1151
Image Size in Portfolio: 4193×3354

Of the images I processed from the Rocking R6, I’ve also grabbed two additional birds. The first, the Mourning Dove, is one that I have a surprisingly small number of portfolio shots of. The one below is only the third one I have in the portfolio, which is strange for a bird that I’m seemingly taken hundreds (if not thousands) of shots of in the past. I will have to do some digging.

© Jim Miller – Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Webb County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 600mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/200 at f/14 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1152
Image Size in Portfolio: 3321×2657

Northern Bobwhites are always special birds to make images of. As I looked into the portfolio, I actually have considerably more of this bird than I do of the more common Mourning Dove (7 Bobwhites to just 3 Mourning Doves).

© Jim Miller – Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)

Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)
Webb County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 428mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/200 at f/10 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1153
Image Size in Portfolio: 2756×3445

© Jim Miller – Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca)

Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca)
Kinney County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 600mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/800 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1154
Image Size in Portfolio: 3852×3082

Later in the trip I had the distinct privilege to shoot at Sandy Hurwitz’s Transition Ranch out in Kinney County. I’ve only processed on image from that trip, but it was a special one. This Canyon Towhee is the 105th bird species I’ve added to my portfolio.

© Jim Miller – Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)

Painted Bunting (Passerina Ciris)
Uvalde County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 600mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/800 at f/8 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1156
Image Size in Portfolio: 3554×2843

The last stop on the trip was to visit Pliny and La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch in Uvalde, Texas. This time of year the Painted Buntings are as close to a guaranteed win as any bird in any place I’ve ever been to. It did not disappoint. May be recency bias, but this may be my favorite Painted Bunting shot ever. Until the next one I process.

Perched Ash-throated Flycatcher in South Texas

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)
Uvalde County, TX – May 2022
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 600mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/500 at f/8 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1157
Image Size in Portfolio: 4194×3355

Originally I thought this Ash-throated Flycatcher was going to be a new portfolio species as well. But when I got home and looked at the portfolio, I found that image #76 in the portfolio was actually a move over from my old, poorly organized, pre-2011 portfolio. That original image was shot in 2008 on a Canon 30D. So 1081 images later, I added my second Ash-throated Flycatcher to the portfolio. That, I’m reasonably certain, sets a record for the longest time between portfolio adds and the biggest number of images since the last add to the portfolio.

I hope to get quite a few more images processed next week. Lots of images to swim through.

Recent Processing: 2022 Week 17 — NSTR

May 8, 2022
tags: ,

When I was on active duty, we had a four letter abbreviation that we would use when things had been slow. It was NSTR: Nothing Significant To Report.

This week is an NSTR week. By the time this publishes, I will be back in Denver after doing my annual photography swing through Texas. This year was a multipurpose trip, with photography being priority number two–family business was far more important.

I did get three days of photography blind shooting done at my three favorite private ranches. And the other days we were in town really wouldn’t have worked well for photography anyway–dense skies, high humidity, and miserable conditions. The three days I scheduled to shoot on were perfect.

I don’t generally travel with a laptop capable of processing, and this trip was no different.

Without a doubt next weekend there will be images to share. But today, not so much.

Recent Processing: 2022 Week 16

May 1, 2022
© Jim Miller – Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)

Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)
Webb County, Texas – April 2014
Canon 60D, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 200, 1/1250 at f/6.3– No Flash
Portfolio Image #1149
Image Size in Portfolio: 3570×2876

Just a single image processed this week. Other priorities, which I’ll talk about in the coming weeks.

I went way back into the archive for this one. I stumbled on another post doing some research, realized I had this one somewhere in the archive, but never processed it, and went to work on it. Didn’t require much. But I just had never harvested it for the portfolio.

We will see what next week brings.

Recent Processing: 2022 Week 16

April 23, 2022
© Jim Miller – Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)
Anson County, North Carolina – June 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 400, 1/125 at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1143
Image Size in Portfolio: 4580×3648


Another good week of image processing, though bluntly I wish I had more time to process than I have. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.

I spent a lot of time back in the summer and early fall of 2016 for this week’s processing. Just sort of where my mind’s travels took me. My initial work was out of the stop I made at Pee Dee NWR in Anson County. I had processed most of the images in previous sessions, but there were a few on one particular day that I still had not accounted for.

It was a good day for Slaty Skimmers, as demonstrated with the image with a dorsal angle that leads this post. This one was also special because it was the 4×5 equivalent of a full frame shot.

© Jim Miller – Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)
Anson County, North Carolina – June 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 400, 1/125 at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1144
Image Size in Portfolio: 2317×2896

And with this follow up image as well in a more traditional perched pose, though in a portrait format and considerably smaller. The blue sky made it for me.

Slaty Skimmers are a favorite of mine from my early days of doing dragonfly work back in Ohio. Deep, rich blue color with a very slender body.

© Jim Miller – Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)
Anson County, North Carolina – June 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 400, 1/125 at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1144
Image Size in Portfolio: 4260×3408

I also had the distinct pleasure of working with a Halloween Pennant image. Fun bug to make images of and I love the way the orange in the wings makes an image pop.

© Jim Miller – Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)
Tyrrell County, North Carolina – June 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 400, 1/250 at f/13 – Flash
Portfolio Image #1147
Image Size in Portfolio: 4580×3648

Part of the reason that I headed into the summer 2016 images was that I knew I had images of Great Blue Skimmers from that timeframe, but when I went to the portfolio to grab an image for somebody there weren’t any there. Grabbed one, but there are some more that I need to bring in.

Administratively this image was a double win. A new dragonfly species (#40) for the portfolio and it also was a 4×5 full frame image.

© Jim Miller – Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Carteret County, North Carolina – June 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 17/40mm at 40 mm
Handheld
ISO 100, 1/1000 at f/5.6 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1146
Image Size in Portfolio: 2317×2896

There were two underlying reasons to go to North Carolina on that trip and neither of them had anything to do with dragonflies. One was a wedding for which I provided photography support. And the other was to make images of the lighthouses on the Outer Banks. I’ve processed most of the Cape Lookout images, but this one was sitting out there needing to be processed. I think this was just as we were getting off of the shuttle boat that got us out to the island.

© Jim Miller – Tricolor Heron (Egretta tricolor)

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana – September 2016
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod
ISO 800, 1/400 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1148
Image Size in Portfolio: 4260×3408

I also wandered into another folder of images from later in 2016. I had processed all the images, but I was interested to see if there was maybe an image I could grab out of that folder as a second harvest. And sure enough, this one presented itself to me. All I could think was, “What the heck was I thinking not flagging this to be processed in the day.” Second harvest meals taste twice as good.

Recent Processing: 2022 Week 15

April 19, 2022
© Jim Miller – Balloon Abstract (Wallpaper #104)

It has been too long since I’ve been processing images. Life has gotten in the way. Often.

But after many weeks of issues and with my new processing workstation finally in place, I was able to get back into the swing of processing, though granted with learning a few new tricks here and there.

Along with putting images into the portfolio, I will often take images that I really like and transform them in a 16:9 format to use as wallpaper for Windows. A recent trip to New Mexico (which I will blog about later) provided a number of wallpaper-able images. This shot, from inside the hot air balloon that we rode in, caught my eye. I transformed two other inside the balloon shots into wallpaper as well. Shot with my Lumix G85, it was not a shot I like would have been able to pull off with the Canon 7D Mark II.

© Jim Miller – Hot Air Balloon Landscape (Portfolio Image 1139)

Also shot on this balloon ride was another balloon from the same hot air balloon outfit following us as we floated through Valencia County, New Mexico. Beautiful skies, a definite idea of where the sun was coming from, and the beautiful mountains in the background. Plus, if you look closely, you will see a long line of box cars from a train racing across the New Mexico landscape. This was also shot with the Lumix G85.

© Jim Miller – Brown Pelican Portrait (Portfolio Image 1136)

Earlier in my week I also worked some images from last year’s Texas swing. I had processed this image once before, but with a much wider shot. I looked at it again as I was going through the filmstrip and decided to go in a little tighter and make it a portrait. I think it worked out well. I processed two additional Brown Pelicans from that trip.

To finish out my week, I went back into 2015 to work an image of a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay. Only I found out after the fact that I had previously processed that image. Stuff happens. At least I didn’t spend very much time on it.

Hopefully more images to share from this week prior to heading back out on the road.

A New Processing Tool

April 17, 2022

Much in the way I’m deliberate and stubborn about buying a new camera, I’m similarly deliberate and stubborn about replacing my graphics processing machine.

My last graphics processing machine was assembled in 2016. The reality of how old and how behind the times I was came to light when the Windows 11 compatibility tool was released. The old graphics workstation was not up to the specs needed for Microsoft’s new operating environment. Eye opener. When I built it six year ago it was bleeding edge. Now it is technological road kill. I started my search to build a replacement then. That was late August 2021.

The plan was I’d put it together in December. And then life happened. Then January. And then…

So what were my thoughts in terms of building this new machine?

  • A very fast processor
  • Lots of memory
  • A video card that would support multiple monitors
  • Enough space in the case and motherboard for a bunch of hard drives, yet unobtrusive
  • Quiet–either liquid cooled or very efficient fans
  • Finally, sadly, an update to Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop rental program

The last of those was probably the toughest to accept. It has been my windmill that I’ve been battling against for nearly as long as I’ve had the previous workstation. But alas, with maybe a new camera in my future and a lack of desire to completely learn a new tool, an upgrade to Lightroom was going to be necessary and why not spend $9.99 a month to have a more modern tool.

Rather than sit in my home office, this machine was destined to sit in our living room, so size became a significant consideration. My shooting partner works from our living room every day with dual monitors, so the case had to be small enough to hide neatly amongst the monitors and it had to be quiet enough so as to not be heard with the television on. I spend too much time in the home office working and a change of scenery (and the chance to be with my shooting partner in the evening) was highly desired.

As the weeks moved forward Apple made their new product announcements. I strongly considered going over to the enemy and picking up an Apple Mac Studio box. Small, powerful, and relatively quiet. Its small form factor would fit great in the living room. But the thought of learning a new operating system and dealing with external storage was more than I wanted to deal with. And I didn’t want to be a victim of a 1.0 version of a hardware platform. Maybe later down the road, or alternatively maybe something I’ll pick up later and use on the road in lieu of a laptop.

I finally pulled the trigger in March, walking into my local Micro Center with the well-researched list of parts. Normally the turnaround from order to pickup is four hours. But instead it was almost 4 days before I was able to pick up my assembled machine.

And at that it was about 85% ready. I ordered my hard drives from Amazon (they were significantly cheaper than Micro Center–about $100 for the two drives) and the process of getting them installed took longer than it should because I didn’t have mounting screws I needed to get them attached in the case. The screws showed up the day we headed out for another trip, so thus another delay.

What did I end up with? A really fast processor, an amazing motherboard, a good video card capable of support 4 monitors, 64 Gb of memory (with room to bring it up to 128 Gb eventually), 2 Tb of SSD space (half for the operating system and programs, half for the last two years of images for quicker access…eventually to be replaced by videos when I start working them), and 16 Tb of spinning hard drives (10 Tb devoted to image storage, 6 Tb for various other projects and administrivia). And liquid cooled, making it nearly silent.

Screenshot of Workstation Technical Specs

It absolutely screams in terms of performance. Hopefully it is a machine that will last another 6 years.

As we approach mid-April, this is probably the first week that the machine has truly been useful.

It took forever to move all of the images over to this machine. The last of the 260Gb are moving across the network and onto the new machine as I write this.

Getting used to the new interfaces on Lightroom Classic and Photoshop has taken some time, but I feel relatively confident in my ability to make both of them work at this point.

I’m not decommissioning my old machine any time soon. It continues to serve a useful purpose in the home office and there are times where it will make more sense for me to work images from there. But it does create some logistical issues. Like how do I keep both workstations synced when it comes to raw images and portfolio images. Absolutely a first world problem…

2022 Shooting Days 1 & 2: Island of O’ahu, Hawai’i

April 15, 2022
© Jim Miller – Hawaiian Sunset

My trial run with my Lumix G85 was where every Coloradan who doesn’t snow ski would love to be in the dead of January–Hawai’i.

Truth be told, this was not planned as a photography trip. This was planned as a rest and relax trip. I did no planning for any photography work. About the only true planning we did other than plane and hotel reservations was making sure we made it to a luau. Otherwise it was free-form trip devoted primarily to relaxation.

But it is Hawai’i after all. And the Lumix G85 seemed like the perfect camera for the trip.

First, some logistical thoughts.

The Good: I had purchased an extra battery and an extra memory card before we left for the trip. That was a win.

The Bad: I also purchased a Domke 700-80D F-8 Small Shoulder Bag to carry the camera in. The bag, in and of itself, is fine. But it is too small for my liking to carry both the G85 and the extra lens. I will be looking for something slightly bigger.

Shooting Day 1 for the trip was the night of the Luau. Admittedly, I didn’t shoot much. Certainly not up to my multi-hundred shot days. Just 45 shots for the night. Most of the shots were of subjects I’d normally not put into the portfolio. Honestly, this was more about a night of enjoying the luau than trying to be a photographer. Of the shots, the sunset shot that leads this post was probably my favorite.

© Jim Miller – Paddle Board Silhouette

Shooting Day 2 for the trip was more about enjoying sunrise, sunset, and doing some street photography. For sunrise and sunset, my shooting partner and I ventured out to Fort DeRussy Beach. We found the views of Diamond Head from there to work well for sunrise and we had been out there the night before our luau for sunset on our journey to ensure that we knew where would pick up the tour bus for the luau.

Sunrise worked out well and I was happy with what the Lumix G85 provided for me. My favorite shot is the Paddle Board Silhouette above.

© Jim Miller – Celebrating Chinese New Year

Along the way back to Fort DeRussy Beach that evening, I took my hand at a little bit of street photography. This shot, minus the most minimal of cropping, is absolutely unmodified. I am very impressed at what the Lumix G85 gives me right out of the camera with no modifications. Colors are perfect. Sharpness was very acceptable. No noticeable distortion from the lens. Minus my cutting off a couple of feet on the right hand side of the frame, I am pleased with the shot.

© Jim Miller – Sunset and Sailboat Panorama

We did eventually make it to the beach for sunset. I made a number of shots. Some of the good. Some of them meh. An attempt to catch a couple of surfers paddling back in resulted in not so great shots, but it was the guy behind the camera that made the mistake and didn’t adjust well for the light.

But speaking of adjusting for the light, this is where the camera really sang. I was able to adjust the exposure nearly flawlessly to get the sunset I wanted and could see the results of my adjustments directly in the viewfinder. This is one of the strengths of the mirror-less cameras and one I’m really going to use a lot.

For the Sunset and Sailboats, the crop I like the most is the panoramic and/or wallpaper 16:9 orientation. I did have to remove more of the original than I would have wanted to because of lens length. But all in all I’m happy with it and it is in my normal rotation.

Truth be told, even now almost three months since we went out on the trip, I still have not added any of the images from these shooting days to the portfolio. Other things have gotten in the way. But hopefully in the next few weeks.

A New Tool in the Tool Bag

February 4, 2022
tags:

As long time readers know, I am not a Camera of the Month club sort of person. I bought my Canon 7D Mark II in early 2015. I bought my Canon 60D in 2011. I haven’t bought a new lens since I picked up my Tamron 150-600mm about 5 years ago. I don’t buy a new tool unless the old tool is not working. I tend to be very, very deliberate about purchases. Sometimes I wait a year or more before I execute on a deal.

When I visited Rocky Mountain National Park in 2020, I found that I was missing a tool for my tool bag. I did not have a good, walk-around camera that I could do landscape work with. I ran into the same problem on my visit to Cheyenne Mountain State Park and my two trips to Walden Ponds. I wanted to do some landscape shots, but the bulk of the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS made it difficult to successfully carry a second lens without adding a backpack to my hiking gear. But a good, smaller, walk-around camera might get the job done that my iPhone was not getting done.

Later, as I started to spend more time in the city of Denver, I realized that maybe some street photography was in my future as well. And I was sadly disappointed with the quality of image that my phone was providing. I pretty much just stopped trying. It was time for something new. But what?

I ask questions when it comes to things like this. And indirectly I had already asked this question once.

A good friend of mine, a gentleman named Bruce Foreman, was a resource that I often relied upon when it came to the purchase of camera equipment. Bruce spent most of his life with a camera in his hand. He bought lots of gear. He sold lots of gear. But before he sold it, he got to know every centimeter of that equipment. We lost Bruce this past fall, but his words and philosophy continue to live on.

One of my children was looking for a camera. The primary objective was to do HD (1920×1080) video but also wanted to have a camera that could do stills. I had suggested something from the Canon line of dSLRs, but I knew Bruce had pivoted into video and I figured he would have a good answer. His answer was the Panasonic Lumix G85. Inexpensive, but not cheap. Small. Capable of doing 4K video. 16 Megapixels on the sensor. Solid, durable camera.

As I was bouncing around the idea of a walk-around camera, Bruce’s words came back to mind. I kept it on my radar. And then Black Friday at Amazon happened and there it was. The deal, with both the kit lens and a second longer zoom lens, was too good to pass up.

And then life happened.

A trip to do some training. An unexpected trip for a family emergency on my way home from the training. Winter holidays. Life got busy.

The camera arrived while I was out at my training class. The camera came out of the box a day or two after returning from my family emergency journey. And it sat there through the Christmas holidays and well into January.

I read pieces of the manual a time or two. Learned the things I really needed to know in the short term. Charged the batteries, formatted the cards, bought a small camera bag, and then set it down for an expected trip.

I hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me as I try out this new tool.

Recent Processing: 2022 Week 4

February 1, 2022
© Jim Miller – Eastern Forktail (Ischurna verticalis)

Eastern Forktail (Ischurna verticalis)
Cherry County, Nebraska – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/400 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1124
Image Size in Portfolio: 3114×2491

Week 4 of 2022 started with revisiting a trip I made to Valentine NWR near Valentine, Nebraska during the summer of 2020. This was day 8 of a 9 day road trip and the 6th day on the trip in which I pulled the camera out. As this day would drag on, it was the longest day of my 9 on the road with almost 450 miles on the odometer. I would visit 3 NWRs over the course of this day: Valentine NWR, Fort Niobrara NWR, and Lacreek NWR. I didn’t have the patience or the energy to do a hike that might have gotten me some images at Fort Niobrara NWR. I didn’t have any light when I got to Lacreek NWR. But Valentine NWR worked out okay.

This Eastern Forktail was one of many flying on this small pond (you can see another one in the background). Had I done better research in the places I was going, I would have known that I was really early in terms of flying dragons and damsels. The early fly date for Eastern Forktails in this county is June 18th–I captured him in a countable number of hours before the early fly date. Most of the others don’t emerge generally until July. Good note for the next time I contemplate a trip like this.

© Jim Miller – Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
Cherry County, Nebraska – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Handheld – Car Window

ISO 400, 1/125 at f/18 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1125
Image Size in Portfolio: 3492×2794

This is a shot that is a portfolio shot, but more because it is a bird that I don’t have and it isn’t too bad as opposed to “Wow!!! This shot is great!” This was effectively handheld in the car, but kind of with the window bracing. It is one of the shots that convinced me that I needed to buy the window bean bag (which, sadly, I think I’ve kind of used once).

© Jim Miller – Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Cherry County, Nebraska – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/400 at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1126
Image Size in Portfolio: 3807×3046

This marks probably the fifth or sixth different state that I’ve gotten an image of a Blue Dasher at. For those that are new to the blog, Blue Dasher was my gateway drug for doing dragonfly photography, with my first (and still only) cover shot being a Blue Dasher shot at the Water Lily gardens in San Angelo, Texas. This was shot very early in the day on the eastern side of the refuge before starting to work the west side.

© Jim Miller – Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Cherry County, Nebraska – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/400 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1126
Image Size in Portfolio: 3986×3189

Same Red-winged Blackbird from my 2022 Planning post earlier this year. He ran out of patience with me, told me about it with volume and energy, and then moved on.

For now, that finishes out my day at Valentine NWR, though there may be some more goodness in there if I looked hard enough. I will occasionally go back and do a second harvest on a photo shoot. There were 370 images made at the NWR, and another almost 100 at the other spots I stopped at. I only got five portfolio shots from it and really only four that I was genuinely happy with. There are some other dragonflies in there that weren’t in the best locations or presented with the best poses that I might go back and grab later. But for now I can mark this shoot as processed.

Recent Processing: 2022 Weeks 1-3

January 19, 2022

I hope to make this a regular blog entry, much in the same way that I hope making processing images a regular thing over the course of 2022. No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.

I started my processing for the year with a shot from last year at La Lomita Wildlife Photography Ranch in Uvalde County, Texas. I still have a number of shots from this trip to process and I stumbled into this folder to do some work.

© Jim Miller – Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Uvalde County, TX – March 2021
Canon 7D Mark II, Tamron 150-600 (Gen 1) at 483mm
Tripod w/Wimberley gimbal head

ISO 400, 1/160 at f/10 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1121
Image Size in Portfolio: 4560×3648

It is always fun to go back through days where I was in the bird blinds at La Lomita. The still very winterized vegetation and cool day (as shown with the very gray background) helped the Green Jay pop that much more. Can’t wait to make my trip back out to La Lomita this year. Of note on this one is both that it is effectively a full frame shot (taking into account my penchant for moving to a 4×5 format) and the other is I didn’t need all 600mm of my Tamron 150-600 to get this into a full frame. Getting this relatively close to a beautiful birds like the Green Jays is why I love going to La Lomita.

I processed three images from my trip to southwestern Weld County, Colorado and the ponds at St. Vrain State Park. This was part of a two day trip that took me here and a nature area in Larimer County, followed by a very early morning trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park and a swing by Walden Ponds on my way home.

©Jim Miller – Plains Forktail (Ischnura damula)

Plains Forktail (Ischnura damula)
Weld County, CO – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/400 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1123
Image Size in Portfolio: 3218×2575

© Jim Miller – Plains Forktail (Ischnura damula)

Plains Forktail (Ischnura damula)
Weld County, CO – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/200 at f/16 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1121
Image Size in Portfolio: 2448×3060

All things considered, I was actually too early in the season at St. Vrain SP to do the damselfly or dragonfly work that I had hoped to do. Another couple of weeks would have been the right time to try to make these images as most of the odonata early fly dates for Weld and Larimer counties are a little later in the year.

St. Vrain SP was a place I noticed when I traveled to Colorado the first time in 2018. I had other distractions on that trip that kept me from making the trip down to this park. These Plains Forktails were fun shots. I thought that this was the first time I’d made images of these damsels, but as it turns out an earlier trip in 2019 in Colorado Springs had produced a couple images of this species.

© Jim Miller – Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Weld County, CO – June 2020
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
Tripod

ISO 400, 1/640 at f/13 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1122
Image Size in Portfolio: 3218×2575

There are two birds that early in life caught my attention. Red-winged Blackbirds and Killdeer. Both were very prevalent where I grew up. And neither were willing to give me the time of day when it came to making good images. This Killdeer was actually keeping a watchful eye over recently hatched birds and I was doing my best to both respect its space and the baby’s space. I would have preferred not have to deal with some of the vegetation that was close to this particular pond, but you can’t always get what you want (that sounds very lyrical… they should write a song around that thought…).

More to come in the upcoming weeks.

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