Thursday, August 31, 2006

At the zoo

I took Michael to the zoo yesterday. He left to go back to school today so it was nice to spend an afternoon with him. The weather was overcast and cool with a threat of rain. That's pretty good weather for the zoo because most of the animals were very active.

This pair of flamingos was doing an elaborate courtship display. Seems like the wrong time of year, but I don't know much about the biology of flamingos.

One doesn't need to know anything about the biology of tortoises to know what these two were up to. You needed to be there to get the full effect with the grunts the male did, and to see these two walk about the compound like this . . . for about 10 minutes. What a lover!

Really, what kind of a family show is that? Get a room!

Oooooh - I'm going to write my congressman and complain about that gross display of government-supported biology. (See Emma's blog for the pictures that go along with this one.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Billabong pics

Steve and I really enjoy going to the OSU wetlands park to check out the birds. Migration season is underway and so we're starting to see different birds than we did over the summer. We counted 18 species at this wetlands area this evening. I'm still playing with my new camera settings and I'm starting to feel more comfortable with it now.

My 300 mm zoom pics are starting to be a little more focused. This takes some practice without a tripod, but I think I'll be able to do most of my field season without one - especially since most of those pics will be from a sitting or prone position.

Here is a pic of one of my favorite birds at the billabong.

I don't know why I like great blue herons so much, but I always feel good when I see them.

This is a view of the billabong from the north end looking south. You can see the Great Egret in the center and way down on the south shore is the Green Heron.

This is the same image, except cropped. The Green Heron is up at the upper right hand corner. I walked down to that end and crawled through the brush to get closer. That's the next picture.

This is a better image than my first one, but it was hard to get to a spot where I could take the picture without spooking the bird. It stayed for just a couple of minutes before flying off to the north end of the billabong. We saw two of them again this evening.

This is the first picture I've had of the egret with it standing out of the water.

We counted about 120 geese in the pond, and every few minutes some would take off and some would come in for landings. It was rather noisy there this evening.

Another view of the billabong with the mudflat.

The mudflat is usually where we see killdeers, but tonight we saw two different species of sandpipers. This one is the Solitary Sandpiper. The other one we saw was the Least Sandpiper.

I had an opportunity to try the multiple pictures feature of my camera when the Great Blue Heron took off for the other section of the wetlands. I held the shutter button down and tracked the bird while it was flying. Most of the pics turned out pretty well, but I was a little too far away to have a great one.

Most of the edge of the billabong is thick with cattails. I walked through them and onto the mud to get this picture.

There are also a lot of different dragonflies at the wetlands. I took this with the 300 mm zoom from about 20 feet away.

More tracking practice - this time with one of the geese flocks taking off from the pond.

And, to finish off this entry, here's the great blue heron that had flown away in the earlier picture. It's wading through the duckweed near the board walk area of the wetlands.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Second outing with new camera

Steve and I took Emma for a walk this evening so that I could continue to put my new camera through a test. We first went to the OSU wetlands park with the hope of seeing the green heron again. We saw a pair of them tonight. Most of the photos in this post were taken with my 300 mm lens without a tripod. I have to shoot at a fast shutter speed and take a lot of extra photos to get a few to turn out. I'll have to try a photoshoot with my tripod for comparison, but if I can get the pictures to work without having to haul the tripod around I would be much happier about things.

Here's another Great Blue Heron that was perching on the boardwalk in the wetlands park.

Here's the elusive Green Heron, which is much smaller than the GBH. The other one wasn't quite as brilliantly colored as was this one. I'm going to have to try another photo shoot where I get a bit closer, but I'm pretty happy with this first snapshot.

After trying out the camera with the heron pictures, I wanted to see if I could do some pollination photography. Here are some bees working on these yellow composite flowers.

Here's a closer view of one of the bees.

The monarch butterly migration is underway. Most of the ones I spotted this evening are looking pretty ragged from this season.

This one looks a little better than most.

After visiting the wetlands park we drove up to Northmoor Park to walk up to the Whetstone Prairie. This is along the Olentangy bike path and it makes a nice walk. Emma is always hoping to find another water snake along the river. A bunny or muskrat would do as nicely, though.

When we came up to the Whetstone Prairie we saw a raptor fly into a tree at the north edge. Several people had gathered there to watch it eat what it had caught. It was just finishing its meal when we caught up to the site, and what a great opportunity for trying out my 300 mm zoom lens! The hawk seems to be saying, "are you looking at me?"

Well, I'll look at you, too. . .

Hmmm, that miniature dachshund looks like dessert.

And the final test picture of the day is of this orb weaver spider. This critter was about 3 inches long.

My new camera - I love it!

I've been intending to purchase a SLR digital camera for the past few years, and have finally done the deed. I was kind of balking at the prices a few years ago, but they've come down enough that I didn't feel too bad about parting with my cash. What has all this to do with woodturning, you might ask? Well, I bought all my gear for about the price of what I sold my "Hidden World" piece earlier this summer. Yesterday I bought a Canon EOS Rebel plus a 75 - 300 mm zoom lens, an extra battery, and two 1 GB cards and, after reading the manual last night, tried it out this morning. We've had a lot of rain since yesterday evening, but the weather cleared for a couple of hours late morning - just enough to go for a short bike ride along the bike path to try out my zoom lens on the birds in the river and wetlands park.

The first pictures were done at home - just to try out the different settings. Here's a close-up of one of the roses Steve gave me earlier this week (for our anniversary). I didn't mess with the aperture settings, but will play with this to work on the depth of focus. I like having that control again - I can reduce the aperture way, way down and increase the depth of field. That's one of the must have features for my field work and botanical photography.

Emma's always a willing subject and I took a lot of photos of her and Darwin this morning. You can see those on Emma's blog.

I like this one - it's a good picture of Emma being her regal self.

This was my first trial of the 300 mm zoom lens. I didn't use a tripod for this, and I was very surprised at how well it turned out. I was across the river from this great blue heron, had the maximum zoom, and used a high shutter speed to counteract the movement of the lens.

The next stop was the OSU wetlands park and the billabong there as part of the overflow into the wetlands. The water levels have really gone down over the past month, so the fish are being corralled into a smaller and smaller volume. This makes it very attractive for Great Blue Herons and this migratory Great Egret. We saw a Green Heron yesterday, but that was before I had the camera. This egret is pretty far away from the bike path, but I was able to put the zoom lens on and get a good image.

This is the Great Egret shown in the previous picture, but taken with my 300 mm zoom at a high shutter speed.

The Great Blue Heron was a little farther away and to the right of where the egret was fishing.

Here are Steve and my bikes. Yesterday we rode 23 miles - all the way to the northern end of the bike path and back. Steve rides the recumbent.

Here's the view of the Olentangy bike path heading north along the billabong of the OSU wetlands park.

Same spot, but looking south. There's Steve in his cycling garb.

A little ways south of the wetlands park is the Dodridge Street bridge. This is the view looking north. There are some geese on top of the dam. It's hard to see them with the 55 mm lens, but I took some close-ups with the 300 mm lens (see below).

Here's the view south, looking at the bridge for Dodridge Street.

The bike path bridge at Dodridge Street heading south.

Same place, heading north.

There are usually ducks and geese out on the rocks above the dam; sometimes a blue heron is there and we've seen belted kingfishers here as well.

Here they are through the 300 mm zoom lens.

So, I think I'll like my new camera. I need to keep reviewing the manual until I learn all the settings and bells and whistles, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun to use.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Washington DC - part II

My visit to the Capital Area Woodturners was Thursday through Saturday of last week and we had a good time together. I taught two one-day hands-on classes and then did an all day demo on Saturday.

This is the Thursday class group hard at work doing their pyrography projects. L to R: Dean, Patrick, Dawn, Ed, and Mark. They were a quiet, but intense group.

This is the painting and coloring table set-up. After their sampler boards were finished and the project designs burned in, it was time to work on transparent coloring techniques (Prismacolor based) and then acrylic painting techniques. This bunch caught on pretty well and their projects were all very nice when finished.

Here's Ed working on the pyrography for his desert scene.

This is the Friday class group. They were not a quiet bunch, but we sure had a good time and they all did very well in the class, also.

I stayed with Mark and Jennifer Wollschlager and their friendly and well-behaved Australian Shepherd named Tucker. We took an excursion to Great Falls on the Potomoc River on Friday evening.

It had been more than 20 years since I last visited the park and it was really a treat to see such a beautiful place - especially as the sun was setting. This is a view of the falls.

Here's the downstream view. The pink clouds were reflected off the water and it was very pretty.

Jennifer and Mark with Tucker.

The meeting started at 9 am with a very short show-and-tell segment and business meeting. I was able to get my demo going by about 9:20 or so.

Here are some of the contributions to the show-and-tell table.

Some more of the same. There were some very nice turnings in the gallery.

Some of my students also brought their class projects and exercises to the table.

My demo on Saturday started with a turning demo and I was lucky enough to be able to use a Stubby Lathe. I have one of these in my own shop and it's a real treat to be able to use one for demonstrating.

Here's half the audience present for my demo. I really enjoyed visiting the Capital Area Woodturners - they're a lot of fun!