: : wildlife photography through the lens of an animator : :

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's for breakfast?

above: Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
above: Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
above: White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
above: Spotted Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
above: Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
above: Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)
above: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
above: Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang)
above: Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)
above: Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Young Welcome Swallows

Young Welcome Swallows, NSW
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Close-ups II

above: Great Egret
above: Black Swan
above: Australian Pelican
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Cygnet (59)

Young Black Swan, NSW
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Long time ago Mick of Sandy Straits and Beyond had pointed out in a comment how amazingly different and varied the colors of birds' eyes are. Then I thought I'd put together a post showing better this beautiful variety, but haven't actually done it. This post isn't exactly what my intention was, but some nice irises are visible on these photos and the level of detail is quite good. Each of these images deserved its own post. I'm just too lazy in this heat to press the 'publish' button more than once. Most of the pics are worth clicking too. They are quite sharp.
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top to bottom: Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina), Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), Juv. Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus), Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), Black-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscescens), Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Australian Brush-turkey

Here are the first Brush-turkeys on this bloG. I had a brief first sighting a couple of weeks ago and a second one yesterday. I hope to be able to get better images of these extraordinary beautiful birds soon...
Australian Brush-turkey, NSW
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Yesterday, I also saw their incubator, but it was raining and couldn't take any photos of it. If you are unfamiliar of this amazing technique of nest-building and incubation you might want to read the whole Wikipedia article on Australian brush-turkeys. Here is the paragraph about the mounds:
"Brush-turkeys are communal birds, and have communal nests. A typical group consists of a dominant male, one or more younger males and several females. They build large nests on the ground made of leaves, other combustible material and earth, 1 to 1.5 metres high and up to 4 metres across. The eggs are hatched by the heat of the composting mound which is tended only by the males who regulate the temperature by adding or removing material in an effort to maintain the temperature of the mound in the 33-35°C incubation temperature range. The Australian Brush-turkey checks the temperature by sticking its beak into the mound. As with some reptiles, incubation temperature affects the sex ratio of chicks, which is equal at 34°C but results in more males when cooler and more females when warmer. It is unclear whether the parents use this to manipulate the sex of their offspring by, for instance, selecting the nesting site accordingly. Warmer incubation also results in heavier, fitter chicks, but how this is linked to gender is also unknown."

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I managed some decent pelican shots today. Will post more soon.
Australian Pelican, NSW
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Photographic memory: Pacific Gull in Sandy Bay

Pacific Gull, Tasmania
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My photographic gear

People keep asking what my equipment is, how I use it, if I'm happy with it. Decided to write a few words about this.

I've had several film cameras. The first one was a Смена 8М, documented in a photo from 1974 or 75.

My first digital camera was Fuji FinePix S5500, a compact ultra zoom, quite good for its price and 2004. I took some nice photos with it and the best ones are available on this bloG, carefully indexed with a special label. It was fast for a compact, but not fast enough for birds in flight. I soon realized I needed something much better, and, unfortunately, much more expensive.
For a long time I was reading and getting familiar with Nikon models, but when I was about to make a purchase, circumstances were more favorable to buy a Canon. I don't regret. I bought an EOS 30D body,
and an EF 70-300 IS USM lens. That was the best equipment I could afford. I was hoping to be able to buy some more and better lenses later, but it never happened. I don't see such thing happening in a foreseeable future either. For a while I was dreaming to get a battery grip to get a better hold on the camera when taking vertical photos, but have given up on this too.
All the photos on this bloG (except those labeled with FinePix) are taken from a hand held camera with this body and lens, almost always at 300mm.
I tend to shoot at ISO 320-640 most of the time, using short image bursts (HiSpeed) of twos or threes to try to capture action. Most of the action shots are taken on Shutter Priority (TV) mode. I find that 1/1250 to 1/2000 is usually fast enough to freeze birds in flight.

Am I happy with the lens? I don't know.
  • It has a very nice and pleasing bokeh. Many times even if there's nothing in focus I will stare at an image and enjoy the beautiful blurry painting that the lens has produced.
  • It can be sharp. Every now and then I get an image that amazes me with its crispness. I don't know if it's due to a combination of factors, but such images are very rare. One in a thousand I'd say.
  • At 100% images are generally soft. It might be due to the specific subjects, being quite small and feathery. Maybe the AF system gets confused. It can be due to shaky hands, but it shouldn't matter much at high shutter speeds. It could be due to the Image Stabilizer / Auto Focus conflict, but I have tried to shoot with stabilizer switched off. I don't know.
  • Many times AF is too slow. I know. I only have F5.6 at 300mm. There's not enough light.
Those rare sharp images show me what the sensor and the body are capable of. Obviously a lot. But even this sensor is too small for the contemporary expectations. 8 megapixels are just not enough for a decent crop.

What do I do to the photos in the computer? Nearly nothing. I crop them to get a pleasing composition. Rarely adjust levels, if exposure is not good, but the image is otherwise worthwhile. Then scale down to 1024 by whatever and publish to the blog.

Why are there no EXIFs in the photos? Not on purpose really. I use such an old version of Photoshop (Five!) which just cannot keep them when re-saving the jpg. And I don't think they are too important either.

I wish I could afford to spend much more money on equipment, which would produce much better images, but as photography is only a spare time activity for me, it is not currently possible.

[Quick update: August 2016]
Some two years ago I finally bought a better lens - the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM.

I have only posted a few photos of Sammy the seal, taken with this lens. AF is much more accurate and sharpness is generally better at all F-stops, decreasing the amount of failed photos significantly.

However, I have a feeling that the bokeh is not as pleasing as it were with the cheaper 70-300, but this may just be subjective. I can only imagine what the performance of this lens could be on a better, newer body.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photographic memory: Scarlet Robin family

top: male Scarlet Robin with chick; above: female Scarlet Robin, Tasmania
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Photographic memory: Cockatoo close-up (65)

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Tasmania
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

PoAA turned two

Portraits of Australian Animals quietly stepped into its third year a couple of days ago. I must have been too busy or distracted by other things to organize proper celebration. The second anniversary is not as big or as important as the first one. Still, it is something that's not good to leave unmentioned.

To continue the tradition from last year I updated the gallery with my favorite images and posted it on the front page again.

The other small changes include removal of unnecessary clutter, like translation widget, visitor map widget, useless subscription links and logos, as well as the big change: introduction of taxonomic names for each species.
Happy second birthday, PoAA!
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PoAA Selected Photos

This is a small collection of favorites, published on this bloG. Some photos I like because of their technical quality, some because of the associated memories and some because of the animal in them. Initially it was meant to be a 'best of' selection, but it really isn't. There are lots and lots of photos in all three of the categories that have been posted and never made it here. There are also lots and lots of photos that I took after I stopped actively blogging.
last update: August 2016 | click on a photo to view hi-res image