Pribilof Summer

Pribilof Summer
Pribilof Summer

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Extra Post

I usually try to do a blog post on weekends. This is an extra post to show the results of a minor experiment that I attempted yesterday evening. It all started because I was bemoaning the need to use a tripod or monopod whenever I wanted to use my fancy new Canon camera and lens.
I only got the new camera because I was dissatisfied by my old camera's inability to get really sharp images at full zoom. Then it hit me. Why don't I put the old camera on a tripod to see if that improves the images?
The photo of a Green-winged Teal above is one that I shot with the old HS-50 on a tripod.
It had a mate next to it but I basically ignored her. She had her head in the water almost the entire time I was there anyway.
The HS-50 has image stabilization but maybe that is not enough. The Greater Scaup above was shot using both image stabilization and a tripod.  
At first I thought that this was a Lesser Scaup nearby the Greater Scaup but now I'm not so sure.
Further out there was a Ring-necked Duck near a pair of Greater Scaups.
You can almost see the nearly imaginary ring around its neck.
I shot this photo of a Gadwall on the same little pond where I shot the Gadwall in the last post. This duck is bigger because the HS-50 is more powerful than the lens on the Canon. This photo is clearly superior to that other photo. It is probably the best Gadwall photo that I have ever taken.
I also got a photo or two of this Am. Widgeon in poor light.
I also got this so-so photo of an Orange-crowned Warbler.
The best bird of the evening was this Wandering Tattler. It was about 9:00 pm when I shot this photo from quite a distance.
What are the results of my experiment with the tripod? The HS-50 is better when I use a tripod with it. Will I quit using the Canon? No. It has its advantages in many ways. It is good to have both cameras in my inventory.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spring Arrivals and a Surprise

Poor Dan will have to wait yet another week before I can continue posting photos of his trip to Thailand. Who knows when I will finally get to posting photos of Maggie's trip to Iran? Yes I said Iran. No one goes there, but she did, and loved it.
In the last few weeks birds have been showing up in Alaska and I have been out and about with my new camera and lens to photograph them. Although I have zillions of Arctic Tern photos taken from this same perch in Westchester Lagoon, I had to try it with the new equipment.
I cannot see any improvement in image quality using the Canon 6D over the HS-50. The Fujifilm camera is so much easier to manage and more powerful.
I like this photo because you can easily see the drake Northern Shoveler but did you notice the hen shoveler right next to him?
She almost becomes invisible in the grass.
A boring shot of a drake Gadwall. Nevertheless I am happy to see him.
A more impressive Northern Pintail.
I photographed this pair of Steller's Jays several weeks earlier. They were gathering nesting material.
This bird was a nice surprise to see along the coastal trail. Do you know what it is? They do not normally occur in this part of Alaska. It is common further South but a nice new addition to my Alaska bird list. I have not seen one since I my last trip to central Mexico years ago. It is a Say's Phoebe.
All of the nature oriented people around here anxiously look forward to the arrival of Sandhill Cranes.
I believe that its mate was sitting on the nest hidden in the grass in nearby Fish Creek.
The crane gets a running start before taking flight. I did'nt disturb it. Noisy hikers on the coastal trail did. I don't think they even noticed the crane.
I posted this photo earlier. I decided to paint it.
Notice the changes I have made in the arrangement? It has been well over a month since I have lifted a paint brush before starting this 11x14" composition. Shame on me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Photo Contest

I will interrupt Dan's Thailand vacation to post about an online Alaska photo contest here. I decided to enter some of my favorite photos. The contest ends on May 15th. The photo above is some storm clouds reflected in Goose Creek.
There was a large limit of 100 entries per person. Needless to say, there are many thousands of photographs that the judges will have to sort through. I entered something like 40 photos myself. One of them being the Fall foliage along the Knik River above.
How do you choose photos that are likely to stand out from thousands of others? I know that I do not possess the technical skills that real photographers put into their photos. If you follow the link to see the other entries you will see that I am not the only amateur in the contest.
There are many Moose photos in the contest but this is my best effort.
This could very well be the only spider photo that has been submitted.
I entered three photos of this church. They are all pretty good.
I tried not to enter too many photos of obscure species of birds although they tend to be my favorite subject matter. This is a Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Naturally I had to enter ar least some bird photos like these Western Sandpipers.
I tried to find photos of animals doing interesting things. Unfortunately I do not have very many of those. I like this Saw-whet Owl being inspected by a Red Squirrel.
This Common Murre breaking up through the ice is also interesting behavior.
Maybe not interesting, but it is kind of cute. Tree Swallows.
This photo of a Sea Otter is the one that has generated the most interest from viewers. Be sure to visit the website to view the entries. Among the many average photos there are some really inspirational photos. Use the site's search engine to view all of my entries.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Big Lizards in Lumpini Park and Beyond

Lumpini Park is Bangkok's largest and best park. It is over-run with people who go there to picnic, jog, or do Tai Chi etc. I spent a lot of time there on my Thailand trips. I told Dan to be sure and go there at some point on his trip.
To me it is all about the turtles and Water Monitors that hang out there. Water Monitors are found in canals, rivers, and ponds all over Bangkok. They are completely used to being close to people. Kind of like the urban Moose here in Anchorage. This is a juvenile monitor and some pigeons. The lizard is probably too small to eat one but the birds do not want to take any chances.
They can grow to be about 8', (2.5 meters) long. They are known for their calm temperament compared to some other monitor species.
I do not need to mention that it is something that you would not want to let bite you. Their saliva is seriously nasty, (borderline venomous). People should not attempt to hand feed them or corner them in a tight space. They will kick your @$$. Kind of like a Moose around here.
A Little Egret, nearly identical to the American, Snowy Egret.
These are a native Southeast Asian species of terrapin. I am not sure which specific species. Females are larger than males.
From Bangkok Dan and the gang headed north to two of Thailand's ancient capitals, Ayutthaya and Sukkothai. Since they look alike to me, I am not sure which photo was taken where.
They are admired by tourists and presumably sacred to monks.
These ancient capitals were invaded and sacked by Burmese armies. The Burmese soldiers decapitated many statues of the Buddha. There are still hard feelings between the two nations today.
A Strangler Fig in Ayutthaya picked up one of the stone heads and cradled it among its myriad tendrils. Needless to say, this tree is revered by many Thai people.
Another tree was chosen to display many miniature Buddhas and respected monks.
Not all the Buddhas lost their heads.
There is more to come from Dan's trip to Thailand.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dan and the gang in Thailand

My friend Dan Holayter, his wife Julie and a group of old acquaintances of mine from my Eagle River days just got back from touring Thailand for a few weeks. Bangkok was of course the the start of their tour.
Bangkok is huge, humid, and very hot. It takes hours to get anywhere in town. Dan hated the place. He is one of the few people that I know who does not care for Thai food.
It is virtually obligatory to visit some of the many elaborate Buddhist shrines around town.
Inside, a worship service of some kind.
A giant golden Buddha passively observes.
There are lots of fascinating things to see.
A funky cat?
A real cat enjoys the protection of a scary stone cat.
The canals of Bangkok are filled with floating merchants and markets.
An Asian Pied Starling.
Some impressive topiary.
Next time we will visit more of Lumpini Park and its artificial lake. This Red-eared Slider was living there. They are originally from Southeastern USA but have been introduced to many other parts of the world. They can be detrimental to native turtle populations. Many people in Asia like to eat them.