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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You've Got to Have Goals. Trying to Score With Nature in 2016.

Lop Fog

I love living on the lake. Many mornings, as soon as I am dressed, I open my front door, sit on my steps and watch whatever may be happening on the lake or on my bird feeders right in front of me.  Not a bad way to start the day.

This morning is a bit chilly, but not bad.  It is overcast, quiet and peaceful.  I have been drinking my coffee on my steps watching a large flock of canvasback ducks (Aythya valisineria) feeding and cavorting just off shore.  There are probably 40 to 50 of them drifting back and forth.  Each one occasionally ducks his head (no pun intended) beneath the water and quickly disappears as it goes underwater to feed.  Sometimes it seems as if there was a signal given and almost all of them go at once leaving a dozen or less still on the surface.  Good entertainment for a quiet morning.

The canvasback ducks don't usually come down to the more open waters near me.  They are normally in the more secluded shallow water that has lots of little islands and inlets.  That shallow water provides a lot of nutrients in the way of buds, snails, tubers, roots and insect larva that makes up most of its diet.  It is also more secluded and normally away from human activities.  However, it is still duck season and the area where they normally stay is not a safe place.  Down here, closer to human activities and in the open is definitely safer for them.  That is good for me for I get to shoot them now.  Yes, it is a bit of a cliche, but I am shooting them with a Nikon.  

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Shotgun Photography - Surely One of Those Pellets Will Hit

CardinalFeeder111615

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

PrayingMantisBaby052415
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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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RambursForktailDamselfly 062116 (1 of 1)

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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