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Out In The Field – One for the Road

December 28, 2013
© jmillerphoto.com - Black-crested Titmouse

© jmillerphoto.com – Black-crested Titmouse

I stepped back into the field today to do some photography. I hadn’t been outdoors shooting for nearly a month.  I had shot a gathering for my workplace a couple of weeks ago, but gosh darn it that doesn’t count.  What does count is breathing fresh air, having the tripod at my side, and capturing nature in all of its glory.

But really, I stepped outside but not so much the field.  Much more like into a blind.  I visited Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, Texas today.  Yes, I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut.  It is four times in a row to this particular location.  But gosh darn it, the weather was supposed to be good, I wasn’t much in a hiking mood, and frankly I had neglected the birds quite a bit this year.  And since there was practically only one chance left to do some bird images, I took the opportunity to go with a known quantity that wasn’t going to make me walk much.  Thus, Pedernales Falls SP it would be.  And that was a great decision.

I arrived at the park around 8:30 am, rolled down to the blind, and was pleased to see that there was solid activity early.  The light was a little tricky at first, but then it got real good.  I and do mean Real Good.  And except for a short period of time when a Red-shouldered Hawk showed up to say “Hi” (driving every bird away for a good 5-10 minutes), the images flowed and the birds flew by.  By the time I broke for lunch I had about 700 images shot for the day.  And I was turning down more shots than I was taking.  Yes, it was that good.

Northern Cardinal

© jmillerphoto.com – Northern Cardinal (Female)

I made a quick run into Johnson City to grab a bite to eat and then went back into the park to do some more shooting.  By the time I rolled out of there around quarter after 1 pm I had over 850 images on two different cards to take a look at.

Raw numbers don’t really do justice to the day.  850+ images is a really huge number.  That means I had both large numbers of birds and great light to work with.  Awesome combo.

© jmillerphoto.com - Western Scrub-Jay

© jmillerphoto.com – Western Scrub-Jay

The actual species spread was more narrow than I would have anticipated.  Lots of Northern Cardinals.  Lots of White-winged Doves at first.  A few titmice.  A regularly visiting set of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers.  Many Lesser Goldfinches.  One incredibly obnoxious Mockingbird.  And the usual assortment of House Sparrows and House Finches.  There were a small handful of other species, but many of the sparrows I had counted on being around weren’t.  No Carolina Chickadees and only one Bewick’s wren.  All things considered this is a very miniscule complaint.

But the number of keeper shots out of those 850+ was incredible.  I have only done a very cursory run through the images and I have identified 30 images that I want to work for future uses.  If I’m beating 1 of 30 as a keeper, it means I had a heck of a day.  And in a lot of cases I picked the one I wanted to work out of a number of images from a burst mode where 2 or 3 (or more) were worthy of being worked and I only wanted to grab the best of the set.

Yes, it was that good of a day.

And so my shooting for 2013 ends.  No shooting for me on Sunday–too many projects that I’ve gotten behind on and a couple more that were piled on in the last couple of days.  I expect some big changes in the status quo this coming year and that means my spring cleaning will start much earlier than normal.  I have to get ready for the obligatory yard sale and/or trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army so I can regain some agility and mobility.  As a good friend of mine from Iceland told me once, “The more you own, the more it owns you.”  And back to the grind in the abbreviated week (which means getting 5 days of work done in 3.5 days).

At some point in the coming week I will do a close-out of 2013 post and a looking forward to 2014 post.  If I can ever get through all 850+ images.

About the Images:
As usual, all of the images were shot off of the Standard Gear, attached to the tripod, but with no flash.  The post leads off with a Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus).  This one was after some suet lodged in one of the perches and actually stayed longer than the standard “Eat and Run” technique that the titmice are known for.  Tech data was ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f/10.  I finish the year with the 9th Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that has graced these pages.  Not bad for a year where I didn’t do my standard amount of bird photography.  To think there was a time 5-6 years ago where I didn’t have a single good NOCA image and now I have a ton.  Tech data was ISO 400, 1/320 sec at f/10.  And finally my bigger than normal Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) image.  I would normally do this as 8×5 format, but I can’t fit the bird into an 8×5 format.  So 4×5 it is.  Tech specs on this one is ISO 400, 1/500 sec at  f/8.  I did shoot some at ISO 200 today and truth be told I could have probably gone down to 100.  Great light…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 30, 2013 9:09 pm

    Sounds like a good day at the bird blind. Beautiful photos in your blog today.

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