Posts Tagged ‘MH Benton’

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Why Knowing Exposure Rules Matters

July 3, 2019

Given today’s plethora of advanced DSLRs, mirrorless, and even cellphone cameras, you might be wondering why you need to know the basics, as in the exposure triangle, for most photography.  In fact, today’s cellphones, even with their tiny sensors, have more capability than most journeyman DSLRs of a decade ago. So, why put yourself though the trouble to learn the basics?

It’s simple really.  A technically correct exposure is rarely aesthetically pleasing.  Not to mention if you count on the automated filters, you are limited to what the manufacturer thinks is best.  If you leave it to your camera, you are at its mercy.  Even the simplest aspects of exposure, using the built-in light meter, can produce drastically inferior results when left to the camera’s discretion. 

For example, I captured these two exposures this morning with my tripod-mounted Nikon D810.  Nothing special, just the canal that feeds our pond. 

In the first, I let the camera do the work, including the light meter, which was set matrix.  It lacks depth and richness of color; in short – it is washed out.  It looks more in line with something you see in an engineering study than anything of artistic value. While it shows detail in the canal, it is flat and draw the view in.

Canal, taken with automated settings

In the second, I switched to Manual, left the shutter speed and aperture the same, 1/60” at f/4.0.  All I changed was the metering mode to spot to and adjusted the ISO until I had a correct exposure with a portion of the reflection selected as the exposure meter’s target and pressed the trigger. 

Canal, taken with same shutter speed and f-stop but light meter mode and ISO changed.

Neither image saw any post-processing whatsoever.  They are as the fell out of the camera.  Of course, both could use a little work in post, but the latter is much closer to finished image than the first.  For sure, as a snapshot, right out of a camera, it has a better sense of depth, though technically under exposed in some areas. In this exposure, the colors are rich and draw the focus to the reflection as the center on interest.  It is true that the crepe and wax myrtles in the foreground are underexposed, but that does not take away from the impact of the reflection, in fact it highlights it.  So, though not technically perfect from a lighting point of view, it has a greater artistic impact.

That is sort of the point too, you as the photographer, need to decide what is best for the exposure you want.  You much decide what are the interesting bits you wish to highlight and draw the viewer to.  Don’t leave it up to the camera. 

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Birds On A Beach

February 2, 2019

Endless birds,
adorn the beach,
oblivious to passers-by.

I venture close,
’bout to reach,
they explode upon the sky.

In a flash,
the scene is set,
as Plovers obscure my view.

It was a glimpse,
I’ll not forget,
this dimming of daylight’s hew.

‘Twas my choice,
that morn to make,
as I walked along the shore.

Pass them by,
and make no wake,
or enjoy them all the more.

Picked the one,
that made me smile,
by my sending birds to flight.

Ask of them,
forgive my guile,”
requesting this glorious sight.

Up to us,
just what we see,
as we trek about this place.

Give a nudge,
to what will be,
and see this world with its grace.


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The Bird Fight!

January 9, 2019
Bird Fight!

We have several bird feeders in the backyard and it is always interesting to see who visits, but sometimes things get as heated as a K-Mart Blue Light Special on Black Friday.  The other morning was just such an occasion.

The Feeder in Question

It started out innocently enough, a bird or two stopping by, taking their fill and flying off to parts unknown.  That is the deal, we put out food, they visit.  We get to enjoy seeing them, they get a full belly.  It works out for everyone.  That is until two birds want the same feeding station!

This is the feeder in question, a Stokes Select Large Hanging Tube Bird Feeder, 6 Feeding Ports, 3.5 lb. Seed Capacity model we recently purchased at Walmart of all places.  Six feeding ports!  One would think that would be plenty to go around.  I mean the birds tha use it weigh maybe about an ounce or two, and the damn thing holds 3.5 pounds of food.  There is more than plenty to go around.  If only the little creatures would have the patience to wait their turn.  And there’s the rub!

So, we hung the feeder, filled it with Wagner’s Deluxe Blend Wild Bird Seed with 20% sunflowers, and a healthy sprinkling of mealworms.  Only the best in our backyard eatery!  As they say in their advertisement “TRUST YOUR BACKYARD BIRDS TO THE EXPERTS AT WAGNER’S!”  We did not have to wait long, within a few minutes several sparrows, finches and chickadees stopped by.  We were all smiles.

Mr. Squirrel

OK, so if you are not a bird enthusiast, you may not know the issue with squirrels.  These backyard bandits can empty a bird feeder in a matter of seconds.  That’s why you have to develop a strategy with feeding.  Put too much on a platform feeder and it just feeds the squirrels, put too little and the birds ignore the offering.  That’s one advantage to the tube feeders, squirrels don’t seem to put in the effort to get the goods.  They try and spill some, for sure but with its large capacity there is plenty for the birds.  This is where the fun began, the next morning I had just finished restocking the cedar feeders, you know the type that look like a little house with glass walls for the hopper and a rim around for the birds to perch while feeding (squirrels make short work of these if you leave the full of seed), and I decided to set up my camera on a tripod and see if I could capture some nice images.

The Gathering Storm

Less than 10-minutes later, boom!  Birds from everywhere arrived at all four of the feeders.  The new tube being of particular interest.  At first, it was just busy and things we looking good to capturing the detail images I was after. Of course, that did not last long!

The Approach!

We have a mental image of small birds and being fast and crafty and they are.  I just never knew they could become so violent so quickly.  You would have thought the sky was falling the ruckus the two pugilists made.

Putting on the Breaks

At first, it just looked like a bird coming in for a landing.  After all, it’s not like all the ports we occupied.  Silly me for thinking logically.  The one bird was minding it’s business then all of the sudden bird two took a line right for it.  Notice the one bird is on the middle level.  It was the first bird approached but not the one in the fight. Things went very quick from this point.  The flying bird made not sound, but the one on the perch realized trouble was on the way and let out a chirpy screech that caused the flying bird to put on the breaks.  It’s almost looked like the bird was flying backwards like a hummingbird but that might just be my perception.

Thinking Twice!

I had my camera in continuous shooting, so I was able to fire off pictures quickly, but even that missed a lot of the action.  These guys are fast – very fast!  The whole episode only lasted maybe a second.

It was on the second approach the action really heated up.  This time with a bird on one of the lower ports.  The amazing thing is, all the other bird not involved, could not have me less interested in the commotion just next to them.  Somehow, they knew it was not going to spill over and become some sort of bird riot at the feeder.

The Attack!

The flying bird took it’s best shot but the bird on the lower perch had the advantage and held its ground.  I think it was more show than an actual strike, but I bet those little talons could so some damage if they really wanted.

Regrouping

The attacking bird figured out it was not going to work and needed to regroup.  So much energy was used up by it in such a brief time there was no way it could attack again.  It was time to thing of the next move.  A stern look from the first bird warned it off trying anything new on that front. 

Pretty much, just that quick the fight, for lack of a better word, was over.  The attacker was repelled, the victors watched the retreat with a sense of satisfaction.  All the other birds still could not be bothered to look up.  It’s as if the little fight never took place.  I guess for them it is all too common an event to give it much notice.

Seeking Higher Ground

Still, the retreating bird had to do something.  It just could not hang out in mid-air.  It was time to move on.  Still, it did not seem the bird was willing to abandon the feeder.

In another instant, the choice was obvious.  Just find a spot and wait it out.  Afterall, there was plenty of food, it’s not like it was going to all be eaten before a port opened up, not to mention the feeder was never really full in the first place.

So, in the end, it was “much ado about nothing,” and the whole event could have been avoided, but then I would not have had the chance at getting some interesting images. 

Why Didn’t I Do This in the Fist Place?
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New Feeder is a Hit!

January 8, 2019
Shot with Nikon D810 w/Nikkor 70-300mm at 155mm, ISO 5000 f7.1 1/800sec
(Click image for larger view)

OK who can help me identify these little birds? I think they are some sort of sparrow but not sure.

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Red-Tailed Hawk

January 7, 2019
Take 1/7/2019 on St Simons Island, Georiga

I really enjoy the backyard. We have lots of birds but none more intersting than the red-tailed hawks that visit. They are always up to something and unlike the golden eagles, they don’t mess my our chihuahuas.

We have several dead pines back there and the hawks take up a perch and survey the grounds for something to snatch. And they do! These guys even go after snakes.

Hawk with snake

Still, I like seeing them fly or sitting watching what is going on. They seem stately somehow.

On the look out!
Off he goes!

They are just very cool birds to watch. I know the world is worried all about conservation and I am sure on the band-wagon but I have to say we have more birds here today than when I was a kid. Big birds that is, the hawks and eagles.

Each day is a new adventure with them. This is a great place to live!


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Easy as PI, wait make that pie.

March 14, 2014

Easy as PI, wait make that pie.

Today is PI Day. This is my take on it

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Understanding Daylight Savings Time

March 9, 2014

earthEarly this morning (2:00AM local time), we “sprang forward” and advanced our clocks one hour.  What was 2:00 in the morning suddenly became 3:00.  Daylight Savings Time is nothing more than a cleaver shift of daylight hours to better conform to when most people are up and about.  It does not create more time of light; it simply is a better use of it for most of us.

Benjamin Franklin was one of the first proponents of such a shift in time.  Back in his day, there were very practical reasons for such thinking, even if he did write somewhat satirically about it[1].  Today, its impact is debatable but does arguably make better use of the day.

Understanding just what really takes place requires a little background.  The earth has 24 time zones.  Think about it for a moment, it also explains a day being 24 hours.  Now I know a day is not exactly 24 hours but we are not trying to set an atomic clock here, gallon chemistry will do.  Humans tend to be creatures of the day, or diurnal.  If the whole of the planet used a single time zone, in London, the sunrise could be 6:00AM on a given day but sunrise would be 11:00AM in New Your City and 2:00PM in Los Angeles on that same day. For centuries, locations around the world used a local time based on the rising and setting of the sun.  As we became world travelers, thank you Ferdinand Magellan, the need to standardize time from one place to another became increasing important. 

Now for a little bit of geometry, and you told your 8th grade teacher you would never use it!  If you think of the planet as a globe, its diameter is a circle with 360°.  When people started to think about time in relation to available daylight, they figured why not make a time zone for each hour of the day.  You do that by dividing 360° by 24 hours.  This gives each time zone 15°.  Think about it this way, when the earth rotates 15° one hour has passed.  Our time zones follow lines of meridian and bisect the North and South poles.  The middle meridian of a time zone is called a standard meridian.  The boundaries of each time zone are plus and minus 7.5° from its standard meridian.  For example, New York City has a central longitude of approximately 74° West.  That puts it 5 time zones away from Greenwich, England, which is the zero reference point.   The standard meridian is 75° West.  The -5 time zone runs from 67.5° West to 82.5° West.  That puts New York City pretty close to the middle of the time zone.  When it is midnight in New York City, it is 5:00AM in London.

That is more than enough of the nerdy stuff.  The thing to remember is each time is one hour different from the time zone next to it.  When we move clocks forward, or spring ahead as they say, we are simply saying we now set our clock to -4 time zones away from Greenwich instead of -5. This has the effect of making the sunrise and set one hour later.  When we wish to end Daylight Saving Time, we simply fall back, or return to our actual time zone of -5.

If we did not take advantage of Daylight Saving Time, during the summer months, as the length of daylight increases, the sun would rise very early, like 4:00AM early. That is not much use to most of us. Daylight Savings Time is not some big conspiracy or governmental mind control trick. It simply is a way to better use available daylight. 

 


[1] Franklin, Benjamin, and Nathan G. Goodman. “Letter to the Editor of the Journal of Paris, 1784.” The Ingenious Dr. Franklin: Selected Scientific Letters. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Pr., 1931. 17-22. Print.

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