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Blogs (2 Viewers)

I set myself the challenge of trying to show the iridescence in the plumage of a starling. I started by doing some research on how to capture the iridescence on humming birds, as I couldn’t find anything online about starlings. What I found out was that it is all down to the angle of the light falling on the feathers. The colours show best when the light source is in line with the camera lens. Normally, I have my flash units set about forty-five degrees either side of the camera and high up, to give a modelling effect and avoid shadows on the background. To show the iridescence, I really needed to bring the flash closer in to the camera and down. The only problem with this is that it gives a much harsher light with less modelling. I...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0980-just-one-of-those-days-17522.html New blog-post. Click on the link above to read about Tuesday's enforced change of plan, and destination, in search of Summer migrants brought in on easterly winds.
Its not an exaggeration to say that there are probably more days behind me than in front of me. I have no intention of shuffling off the mortal coil any time soon, but as a short, round-ish 48 year old Scottish bloke I'm realistic enough to accept that I'm not likely to make it to 96. And thats ok, its not the years in your life its the life in your years, etc. ITs strange though, that as birders much of our time is spent wishing the time away. By February, we can't wait for Spring and the influx of migrants- we're desperate for the first chiffchaff, then the first house martin, the first swift. Then its autumn migration, beginning in the summer. The quiet days of mid- summer can't pass quickly enough, then we roll onto autumn...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0979-here-be-warblers-15522.html Click on the link above to read all about Sunday's wildlife watching (not just birds) including a visit to some potentially good warbler habitat on the outskirts of the city.
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0978-return-visit-14522.html New blog-post. Click the link above to read all about another trip to the Angus Glens following on from Wednesday's trip with Paul (Gander) to look for the same species for another friend's year-list.
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0977-just-like-old-times-11522.html New blog-post. For the first time since 28/2/20 I got out with my birding buddy, Paul (aka Gander), with a welcome out-of-Dundee trip to the Angus Glens. Click the above link for the story of the day's birding and some more photos....
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0976-still-in-search-of-surprises-8522.html New blog-post. Click on the link to read all about my latest trip to Riverside Nature Park here in Dundee in search of something unexpected to add to my Dundee 140 list.
I have explained in a little detail how I have discovered that using HSS flash for my garden bird photography has allowed me to operate at high shutter speeds under any conditions. What I haven’t explained is exactly how I set it all up. I believe in making things easy for myself, so I operate the camera remotely from an easy chair in the conservatory, using an Aodelan remote shutter release. The camera is on a tripod, focussed on a perch that I have arranged near a feeder. Two flash units light the bird. They are mounted on lighting stands about four feet from the perch, angled downwards so that any shadows they produce do not fall on the background. The background is a large poster print of foliage, taken completely out of focus. This...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0975-unexpected-expedition-7522.html New blog-post. An unexpected visit to Fife with my pal Ian in search of a Temminck's Stint at Letham Pools followed by a visit to Hatton to try for a Wood Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail.
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0974-tuesday-morning-trek-3522.html New blog-post. Last Tuesday morning's trip to Riverside Nature Park in search of a migrant wader or two for my Dundee 140 list.
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0973-over-bridge-2522.html New blog-post. A trip to a wetter than expected Fife in search of Wood Sandpiper proved to be more productive than expected....
If there are is anyone still following the saga of how I developed my system for using flash to photograph small garden birds, this post should at last give the secret away. Warning. It gets a bit complicated. I had struggled with using the flash on reduced power, as in spite of it working on dull days, I could not easily get rid of all the ambient light on sunny days, leading to ghosting. Further research brought me to a possible answer - HSS. This stands for High Speed Synchronisation and is a way to use flash with high shutter speeds. Normally, a flash fires a burst of light for about 1/300th of a second while the shutter is fully open. The problem is, at any shutter speed faster than 1/250th of a second, the shutter is never...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0972-hole-in-wall-gang-1522.html New blog-post. On Sunday I headed back to the Dighty Burn in search of more warblers but found myself rather distracted by a 'new' family instead....
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0971-seeking-sedgies-30422.html Another new birding blog-post. Saturday morning's search for returning Sedge Warbler instead of the cancelled "Big Day/Weekend" I had intended to be attempting on Saturday (and Sunday).
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0970-up-and-down-again-29422.html New blog-post. Friday's early start for a spot of vis-migging and then a change of plan which produced a nice surprise....
Hi all. I love blogs. Gives me the opportunity to freestyle my comments. I live in Houston, Texas USA and am a recent widower. A return to birding is helping me settle into a lonely lifestyle. I have retired my wife's and my life list. It was a combined life list. We both had to see the bird to list it as a lifer. Drove our birding friends crazy, it did! But it worked for us. When we got a 1/2 bird - that is, one or the other of us sighted it, the other didn't - we worked together to help the other see it. It made a fun hobby even more fun. Caveat-there are three 1/2 birds that my wife saw on a visit to our dear birding friends in California USA. I haven't seen them yet. So before I 'formally' close out our life list, I'll...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0969-in-with-new-28422.html New blog-post. Thursday's trip to Balmossie in search of something new for the Dundee 140 list. What I found I wasn't expecting....
In my last post, I ended by saying how reducing the power of the flash units increased the speed, but how it in turn led to other problems. There are two main problems. The first, obvious one is that there is not enough light produced by a single flash unit, or even two, to give a decent exposure when they are at 1/16th of the power. There are two ways around this problem. You can either add more flash units, or you can move them closer to the subject. I actually bought a third flash unit, thinking that this would solve my problem, but then realised that to gain one more stop of light, I had to double the number I already had, going from two to four! This was starting to get a bit ridiculous. The other way of obtaining more light is...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/05/0968-first-day-of-holiday-27422.html New blog-post. The first day of 8 days off work on the hunt for new additions to my Dundee 140 list starts with a trip to Riverside Nature Park via a different route than normal...
In my last post, I indicated that I would explain more about how I use flash for my garden bird photography. First of all, I need to explain why I choose to use flash instead of available light. My camera, a Canon 60D is not very good when used at high ISO settings. Anything above 400 tends to produce some noise, which is even more noticeable if I have to crop the photo. I use my iPad for editing and do not have a noise filter. I want to be able to take photos in any lighting conditions - even in the rain. Small garden birds move quickly and are small in the viewfinder, meaning that to obtain decent sized images I have to zoom in, meaning that they are then optically close to the camera. This results in any movement across the frame...
April started with the strange experience of not working at the weekend. I had also set the date for Scope- day. The day when, after months of dreaming, fantasising, and frantically researching on yon internet thing, I would finally be able to buy my first spotting scope. The day couldn't come soon enough, and I'm not too shy to say that I had trouble sleeping with excitement. Before that, though, the month began with a continuation of Green Sand opportunistic birding. Get out when I can, where I can, as often as I can. First up was a flying visit to Hogganfield Loch. Again, the benefits of Elder- Daughter working a dayshift and being genetically incapable of getting public transport. Nothing spectacular, a red- necked grebe had...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/04/0967-going-for-gropper-24422.html New blog-post. Sunday's search for Grasshopper Warbler following Saturday's lack of success at a usually reliable site for the species. Click the above link for the story of the day's birding and a selection of photos.
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/04/0966-expedition-to-outer-limits-23422.html New blog-post. Saturday's exploration of the western extremities of Dundee's official boundaries, in search of Spring migrants and other goodies.... (Click on the above link to read all about it and to see a selection of photos from the day's efforts).
I thought that I would start explaining some of the technicalities of the photography set up I am using to take photos of garden birds while I sit inside with my feet up. The first useful bit of kit I use is a remote shutter release. I have just bought a new one called the Aodelan Pebble. It works really well and hangs around my neck, so I know where it is all the time. The camera is then mounted on a tripod about 12 feet away from the perch. The perch is actually a twig or thick branch fastened to another, old tripod with cable ties and with the cut end in a tin can with water in it, which is again fastened to the tripod stem with cable ties. The camera is zoomed in to fill the frame sufficiently and then focused manually on the...
https://stonefactionbirding2014.blogspot.com/2022/04/0965-blue-sky-buzzards-and-blackcaps.html A rather belated new blog-post. Last Wednesday's vis-migging efforts from atop Dundee Law. Click the link above to read all about it, and see more pics.

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