Sunday, 16 March 2014

How Green Is My Cicada

Bladder Cicada (Cystosoma saundersii)

Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
January 12, 2014

Here is a Bladder Cicada we saved from a path back in January. The photos are with my Nikon D800 and Zeiss Distagon *T 25 2.8 ZF.2. I got this lens because I was interested in its wide angle and close-up abilities. It needs practice though. Manual focus with even the slight of movement is tricky and I think I needed a polarising filter. The photos should have been unexposed to reduce the bright reflections of the leaves. All new to me so I hope I'll get better. I still think the results are natural and very rich. I studied lots of reviews about this lens before I got it and many users either love or hate it. The more I use it the more I love it. 

More about Bladder Cicadas at Rob Ashdown's Blog

Also, Thanks  for the kind comments on my last post. I thought it was one of my more boring efforts but your comments made me look at my own pictures again with a different attitude. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Buzzin' Raptors

Common Kingfisher

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

March 9, 2014

Been very quite here in Niigata the last few weeks. On March 1st, I walked around Toyanogata for about 5 hours and got a couple of poor pics of a Great Tit. 

This Saturday, the 8th, was fun for watching raptors buzzing about Fukushimagata. Unfortunately all were a bit out of reach of any decent pictures but I enjoyed seeing something in the sky almost all of the time. When I got there, I saw a goshawk land near some reeds and I stalked the long way around to get up close. Stupidly I was looking left when I stepped out, knowing my subject was to my right and sure enough I watched an adult goshawk disappear along the water bank and didn't get a shot. At that time I stood scratching my head and looked around to see several Eastern Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, an Eastern Buzzard, some Black-eared Kites, and behind me, a White-tailed Sea-eagle all on the wing 360 degrees around me. All were too far but I waited for something to get close. I realised, however, that when I was watching a harrier come closer in front of me, the eagle doubled back and was very close, but into the sun just behind me. It was an afternoon like this. Very windy and the raptors were just hanging around. A twist of a tail and they were gone or would appear without warning.

I realised there were no geese and I only heard some Whooper Swans when I returned on Sunday. Sunday was quieter for the raptors but I found numerous kingfishers calling to each other and flying back and forth and disappearing into the reeds. I worry about this behaviour when I know the locals will set fire to the winter foliage soon. I was assured such fires have no effect on birds etc. People seem to know everything. 

I've been using My D800 with the new af-s 80-400mm VR but feel it's just been too short this year both in Australia and here. The D800 is a full-frame camera so I took out the D300 on Sunday. Wasn't happy with it either. I either have to get a bigger lens or just go smaller to mirrorless systems such as the V1. 

Last year I had a poster of a Nikkor 300mm 2.8 lens on my fridge with the price tag of 521000 yen. I spent my money on the new 80-400 instead. Now I wish I'd gotten the 300 2.8 but the price has increased by about $1500 to 651000. It's just a price increase without any update to the lens. Things are supposed to go up more next month too.

Maybe I should just spend money on a new pair of bowling shoes.

We had a minute's silence at work today for the three year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake. 

The bird observatory is being rebuilt

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Two Honeyeaters

Varied Honeyeater

Portland Roads, Cape York, Queensland, Australia

October 2012

Here are two species of honeyeaters enjoying a water pool at Cape York: Varied Honeyeater and Yellow-spotted Honeyeater. It was very shadowy and I used high ISO.

I didn't realise until I started to edit the shots that there are some camouflaged frogs in plain sight. Can you see them?

Yellow-spotted Honeyeater