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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Taking Pictures of the Common in Uncommon Ways

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I am big on making lists and setting goals. That really does not extend itself to New Year's Resolutions for I  basically perform the same function on no less than a monthly basis. It is sort of how frequent drinkers look at New Year's Eve. They may not go out that night for they see is as "amateur night".  Setting goals once a year, is sort of the same thing to me. 

With that said, I have been working on some goals that just happen to fall in January - near the time of New Year's Resolution time. These goals are geared towards improving my photography; in becoming a better photographer. 

Here is a list of my plans for this year. They are all goals and steps for making myself a better photographer.

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OH! OH! That's My Favorite! NO! That one! Favorite Photos - 2016

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EasternBluebird11 29 16 1
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Mockingbird 04 19 16 1
RedHeadedWoodpecker 073116 7
Spiderwort 062316 (1 of 1)

Here are my personal favorite photos of 2016.

Bald Eagle Mother from last year's nesting pair

 

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If I Move - Will the Birds Follow Me?

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EasternBluebird11 2916 3
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PineWarbler11 28 16 2
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I recently moved my RV from a fairly good nature spot on Lake O' the Pines. I was near the northwest end of the lake and was on the edge of a remote wooded area. In addition, across the highway was another large wooded area. On my lot, I had a pretty good bird turnout year-round. Much of that due to my 9 feeders and lots of other food items that I put out for birds.

Surprisingly enough, it was not that great for waterbirds. Well, not for ducks anyway. There were Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, an occasional Green Heron, White Pelicans during the winter, Cormorants, and Common Coots. Rarely did I see ducks of any kind, other than the Coots. Common Loons which are very common on other parts of Lake O' the Pines were never seen in this more shallow and weedy end, nor were any of the other shore birds that show up on the south end of the lake.

In the late summer, I moved just eight miles away to Lone Star Lake (Ellison Creek Reservoir). This RV park is in a more populated area. There are no woods aound this lake. The park is surrounded by houses, as is almost all of the lake. There is a little bit of a more primitive area at the north end of the lake but it is fairly small.

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Who Do I Bill For My Self-imposed Photo Assignments?

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I have decided to create some self-imposed photo assignments for myself.  The whole reason for it is that we learn better when we are pushed a bit. Right now when I go take photos, I am an equal opportunity photographer. My aim may to see what birds are out or to look for butterflies. I likely start out with my telephoto in my hands. However, as I amble about, I may see bees around a nice flower and so my aim changes. I put on my Micro lens and may pull out my flash for fill light. Then I may see a delicate mushroom pushing through the moist earth. Then, I am down on my hands and knees or, sometimes, flat on my stomach to make the shot. When I walk a little further, I may crest a hill and there is a beautiful view of the lake and the piney woods behind it. So, then I am slipping on my wide angle and digging out my polarizer filter. I adjust to whatever the situation may require. So, is that a bad way to go taking pictures? Not at all. I love doing that and it is why I burden myself down with so many pieces of equipment on my walks.

These days, I am most likely to be walking with my 200-500 mm lens mounted on my main camera. Often, I have it mounted on my tripod and carry it over my shoulder. There are times, though when birds (or other subjects) are active and I may need to make some fast shots. Then I will have my camera in my hands and the tripod on a shoulder sling. In my holster is my second camera and it will usually have the 105 mm Micro lens attached. I can quickly pull it out of the holster when needed. In another pouch, I may have my 18-300 mm zoom or my 14 mm wide angle. In my pockets, I will likely have my flash, a 1.4 tele-converter, a remote shutter release, some filters (polarizer, ND. . . ), memory cards, extra battery and a few cleaning supplies (brush, micro cloth).

That is my "normal" gear. It does vary depending on what I am thinking about photographing. For example, if I am purposely going to be doing macro, then I might add a ring light, knee pads, reflector/diffuser, etc. With this gear, I am ready for most situations. Whatever pops up, flies over, crawls by or magically appears, I am equipped to get a decent shot.

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Here is an Nine Thousand Word Post

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RambursForktailDamselfly 062116 (1 of 1)
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I have been unusually busy lately so here I wanted to post a major article - here is the equivalent of 9,000 words.  That is, if indeed a picture is worth a thousand words.  

All of these images were taken within a couple of hundred yards of my front door.  

Female Green Anole

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