Monday, September 19, 2016

My 'in-house model' got injured


I noticed the arrival of this female migrant at Bued River about three weeks ago.

It was a nice, perfectly healthy specimen, albeit initially skittish as it tried to get used to its new locale. I purposely didn't approach it for some time to allow it to familiarize itself to things (including this birdnut) around its new habitat. This species usually stays in one general area throughout its visit to our islands. I reckoned I'd have enough time to photograph it well later, after it has recovered from the long migration flight.

About a week ago, just as it had started to allow me to get a bit closer, I was shocked to discover that its right thigh was seriously injured. Could it be the result of a slingshot damage? Or an injury from escaping a predator such as a cat or dog? Or perhaps a result of a natural accident? I'd never know. 

The right tarsus and claw hung from its thigh at an odd angle as it perched on a bamboo branchlet. Thinking that it might not survive long with its horrific injury, I took a lot of images, if only to record its beauty in pixels before it passes on to the great beyond.

Today, about a week after this image was captured, I was very happy to it see it alive and well, foraging for insects and invertebrates, with its injury appearing to heal nicely. I wish it will recover fully and be able to fly the long migration trip later, and breed more in-house models in the years ahead. 

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Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius, migrant, female)

Habitat - Rocky exposed slopes, road cuts, and along rocky streams and rivers.
 
Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 13, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.
 

Friday, September 9, 2016

A banking Red Turtle-Dove

This dove was in a gliding flight above the Bued River when it suddenly banked as it got near my position. Its straight trajectory made it easy to acquire, and I managed to shoot a burst of 6 frames at 10 fps before a tree got in the line of fire. 

The early morning sun was behind me, and I'm glad its head turned towards me at the critical time, allowing me a good eye contact. Here's a couple of frames from the short burst.

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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 10, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.




Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 10, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

White-eye against the blue sky


These tiny dynamos are tough enough to capture when they are perched or foraging in fruiting trees.

When one takes  to air, given its unpredictable flight trajectory,  the degree of difficulty of acquiring the microscopic subject, keeping it in the viewfinder and maintaining good focus is multiplied several fold. Let's not even talk about nailing the exposure - i.e., avoiding over exposure of the white eye ring.

That wouldn't keep me though  from trying to catch these in flight. 

Most of my attempts wouldn't even result into a shutter press, as often the bird has passed me before I have a chance to acquire it in the viewfinder. But this fine Saturday morning, while birding along the banks of the Bued River, I  got lucky and managed to get one in the air, with reasonably good exposure. Thanks to the 7D MII's wide AF net (all-points AI servo) and the 400 DO II's responsive auto focus, the erratically flying target was caught with decent detail even if it was very small in the frame.

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Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni, a near Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Second growth, scrub and gardens. 


Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 10, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 F/4 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, hand held, manual exposure in available light, major crop resized to 800 x 533.


Monday, August 29, 2016

A Pygmy Swiftlet forages in the rain

During prolonged monsoon rains in our islands, golden light - the main ingredient of pleasing wild bird photographs - becomes a scarce commodity. However, raindrops and flat lighting during times when the skies continuously weep can provide a unique opportunity to get moody, seldomly captured avian images. Wild birds still need to forage and nourish themselves, rain or shine. 

I recently noticed these tiny endemic swiftlets hawking small insects in mid-air at the banks of Bued River. Light was quite low for conventional BIF shooting, so I mounted my EF 70 - 200 f/2.8 IS II on my trusty 7D M II, hoping the AF system can function a little faster with the 1-stop brighter aperture compared to my EF 400 DO f/4 IS II. Target acquisition with the wider field of view than customary was also easier.

I experimented with various shutter speeds - I needed to balance the Tv such that it would be fast enough to freeze the subject, yet slow enough to let the raindrops travel a bit in space and present photogenic longish streaks. A Tv of 1/500 sec appeared to be the sweet spot, and I engaged Mode 2 IS to help tame camera shake during panning.

The AF of the combo worked surprisingly well, considering the tiny and dark subject in front of a featured background, all under low uncontrasty illumination and with raindrops getting in the line of fire. I deliberately underexposed during capture and just pushed +1 stop during RAW conversion to avoid blowing the white rump.


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Pygmy Swiftlet (Collocalia troglodytes, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Fairly common, smallest swiftlet in groups flying low over forest, clearings and logging roads (total length = 3.5 inches) 


Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, August 29, 2016, 7D MII + EF 70-200 2.8 IS II,
200 mm, f/4, ISO 640 (pushed +1 stop in RAW conversion), 1/500 sec, IS mode 2, hand held, major crop.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An all-White-eye diet

With the migrants still to arrive this season (and the monsoon rains pouring non-stop), White-eyes are the only interesting subjects I can get close to here in Northern Luzon.

The 7D MII's AI servo AF works magnificently in placing  focus with pinpoint accuracy on the part of the active forager that matters.

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Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni, a near Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Second growth, scrub and gardens. 

Shooting info - Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, August 14, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 F/4 DO IS II + EF 1.4 TC III, 560 mm, f/5.6, ISO 640, 1/320 sec, hand held, manual exposure in available light, AWB, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Good light on a perpetual motion bird

A small tree at my mother's backyard in Bacnotan (La Union) is currently teeming with White-eyes, feasting on its berry-like fruit.

Though they're numerous, these tiny birds (a mere 4 inches from tip of bill to tip of tail) are in constant motion, and are tough to nail AF-wise and exposure-wise. I had to patiently wait all day (over the last few weekends) in an improvised blind to get a few decent captures.
 
This last weekend, in the late afternoon, I got very lucky with one particular capture - a beam of golden light managed to pierce the foliage and illuminated a clean perch. Improbably, a White-eye used that spot and lingered for a few seconds - long enough for my AI servo AF to lock well on the head area and for my itchy shutter finger to fire a short 10 fps burst.
 
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Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni, a near Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Second growth, scrub and gardens. 
 
Shooting info - Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, July 17, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 F/4 DO IS ii + EF 1.4 TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/500 sec, 455B/UBH45 support, manual exposure in available light, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A wet and miserable White-eye

We Homo sapiens are very fortunate - we need not forage for food each time we are hungry.

Our feathered friends are not as lucky. No refrigeration, no fast food restos, no canned goodies, no preserves, no pizza deliveries. They have to search for food each time they need sustenance, in any weather, often at the risk of being preyed upon by other birds. Or worse, trapped or hunted.

I chanced upon this little dynamo while it was feeding at a fruiting tree, just after some heavy rains. I felt privileged to be able to observe its behavior up close, and capture its seemingly sad look, complete with wet feathers.

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Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni, a near Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Second growth, scrub and gardens.

Shooting info - Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, July 10, 2016, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 F/4 DO IS ii + EF 1.4 TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320 sec, hand held, manual exposure in available light, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Butterfly at Bued River

With the advent of the rainy season, plants along the Bued River are in full bloom. And where flowers are plentiful, many species of nectar-sippers congregate. 

This was a perfect occasion to take out my 1D Mark IV from storage for a de-rusting exercise. The combo's AI servo focus is lightning fast, especially with the bright f/2.8 aperture. Likewise, the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II's 1.2-meter minimum focusing distance allowed near-macro captures of the delicate, colorful subject.

Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, July 8, 2016, Canon EOS 1D Mark IV + EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II,
200 mm, f/2.8, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held.

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