East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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Shotgun Photography - Surely One of Those Pellets Will Hit

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There are many ways to practice the art of photography but to me there are two basic approaches with a wide variety of offshoots from those.  

I have referred to these techniques or styles as shotgun and sniper.  I have used both but honestly I have many, many more shotgun photos than I have as a sniper.  

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I Can See Clearly Now - How a New Lens Changes Perspective

Chickadee - Taken with new lens 18-300mm
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I added a new lens this week, a Nikon 18-300 Zoom  (AF-5 DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR to be exact).

Naturally, I had to stick it on my camera and immediately start shooting.  The light conditions were not great for it was near dusk and most of my yard was in shadow.  However, the birds were active on my feeders so I sat on my steps and took a few shots.  

The Chickadee was kind enough to pose.  The picture of him, shown here was shot in aperture priority and handheld so it is a little soft, but it shows promise.  It shows what the lens is capable of doing.  

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Yes, It's a Poor Workman Who Blames His Tools, But Better Tools Make the Work Easier and Allow More Options

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You can take good pictures with just about any decent camera but having nice equipment makes the process easier, adds more options, and generally produces better results.

I started off with a fixed lens Petri 35mm film camera, then later moved to a Asahi (Pentax) Spotmatic.  With both of those I was able to take nice pictures of people and scenic landscapes.  I tried very little real nature photography.  Neither camera was really suited to any kind of closeup work.  I added a 300mm lens which helped with some types of nature shots.  But it wasn't until many years later when circumstances changed and I was able to afford much better equipment and accessories.  My interest in photography and the results of my efforts made a major leap forward. 

Then after I got busy with so many other things (work), I slowly got rid of all that equipment.  

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Animals Just Won't Say "Cheese" - Taking Better Nature Photos

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As should be apparent from this blog, I love taking pictures.  I always have.  At times I have gotten rather serious about it.  At one time I had a color darkroom and owned nearly a dozen nice cameras (mostly Nikons), lots of lenses and a mound of filters, flashes, battery drives, tripods, light meters, light umbrellas, etc.  

I am self-taught. Everything I know about photography I learned through trial and error while devouring book after book.  I have never had a photography class (although I have taught a few).  

At one point, I was very serious about photography, especially nature photography. I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures; reviewed my images critically; and used that self-criticism to get better.  

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Bald Eagle Observations

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On my walk today, I had a bit of an adventure.  It was rather overcast and damp so I just walked along the lake.

I took some interesting pictures of a spider on the covered dock and a few "landscapes".  I just missed a Great Blue Heron but he was too skidish and didn't give me a chance to even raise the camera.  There was also a Phoebee but in the dim light, I just couldn't get a good shot as he did not sit still for long.

Just as I was heading back uphill to my RV, a large bird flew overhead towards the bridge on Hwy 155.  I saw a flash of white.  At first I thought it was a heron, maybe with a plastic bag stuck to his foot or with an abeherant white tail.  Then I saw the flight was not that on a heron.  I realized that it was the bald eagle that I have heard lived in the area, but who had avoided me for the four months I have been here.  

He landed on he concrete slope by the bridge as I moved back toward the parking lot by the lake to try to get a shot of him.  Then he flew straight to the twin cypress just outside of the little cove by the marina and landed about half way up. I was shooting with a 200mm lens in dim light and hand held.  I knew the images would not be good, but I was getting the best shot I could.  I slowly walked forward to the closest point, expecting him to fly off at any moment.  I managed to get all the way to the edge of the water, maybe 100 yards away.  He watched me the whole way. Perhaps attracted by my red shirt, but did not leave.  For about five minutes, I kept taking his picture, know that the images would not be very good as he was too far away for my 200mm lens and the light was quite dim.

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