Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The heavens were on fire over Bued River last night

The long, hot summer has ended in our islands, and the migratory birds have flown back to their breeding grounds. Gone are my favorite flying subjects, but the rainclouds have started to visit with increased regularity and the night skies have become much more interesting and photogenic. 

Here's a couple of images from my first lightning hunt of the season. On this particularly humid night, the air was so still that almost all leaves of trees along Bued River were unmoving, and were rendered sharp even with a long exposure of 30 seconds. I got lucky with my choice of manually set focus distance - the nearby foliage and the far away lightning bolts were in reasonably good focus even at f/4.

The corner-to-corner sharpness of the EF 16-35 f/4 IS continues to amaze me. This little zoom has the highest satisfaction-to-cost ratio (STCR) among all lenses I've used so far. The big whites, and the 400 DO II, are stellar but their high cost drags down their SCTR.

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Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 13, 2017, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
35 mm, f/4, ISO 160, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45/455B support, cropped in the vertical to fit 16:9, resized to 800 x 450.




Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 13, 2017, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
35 mm, f/4, ISO 160, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45/455B support, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, June 5, 2017

'Tis the amorous season once again

Not much BIF opportunities lately because of the mostly overcast skies this onset of the rainy season. But the sun briefly showed itself this morning beyond the high Cordilleras, and this allowed me to get a snapshot of this nest-builder.

Yes, the breeding season for endemics and residents has begun. This coincides with the explosion of  growth of various plants, and abundance of insects and invertebrates, nurtured by the life-giving water from the heavens. It seems that the breeding clock of birds is calibrated such that their instinct to mate and build nests happens during times when there is an abundance of food.

I look forward to a new generation of avian subjects in a couple of months. 

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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 19.70 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533. 
  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Butterfly in flight

Sometimes, the birds are hesitant to take to the air over Bued River.  So I try to capture any other creature that flies. 

I wish though that I got this one earlier in its life cycle, when its "plumage" was more pristine and photogenic.


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Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 24, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 11.00 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Sunbird's full wingspread

Not as sharp as I'd like (there's probably a combined dose of camera shake, slight misfocus and subject motion in the shot), but it's not often that I get these little critters in flight. They're too small (about 4-1/2 inches total length), with a very erratic flight pattern, and more often than not stays in the air only for a few seconds. 

I wish evolution has taught this species to fly a straighter trajectory, so it's much easier to acquire and keep in the viewfinder. But then, that would make them easier to catch by airborne predators (e.g. - shrikes) too, and would've threatened their chances of surviving and evolving into such a microscopic thing of beauty.

Hmmm.... I take my wish back, and would just try harder in catching a better BIF shot. 😉

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Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis, resident, female)

Habitat - Common lowland sunbird.


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 16, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 15.60 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 600.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A ruined daytime moonshot

I was trying to get me a nice daytime moonshot this morning, but this darn bird kept getting in my line of fire.  😀

Kidding aside, I started with an Av of f/11, but the moon was still way out of focus. I was about to dial in f/16 and f/22 for a deeper DOF, but the bird flew away before I can execute the adjustment. On the next similar opportunity, I'd start shooting with an aperture as small as the lens would allow.

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Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier , resident)

Habitat: Common in gardens, urban areas and grasslands but not in mature forests. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 15, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/11, 1/500 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 27.20 m. distance, cropped and resized to 800 x 533.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Red Turtle-Dove in early morning flight

These friendly neighborhood doves are usually active over the Bued River in the early morning. I captured this individual about an hour after sunrise - when light was already bright enough to allow a fast motion-stopping shutter speed, yet still remaining golden and soft to yield pleasing colors.

The AF speed and tracking accuracy of the hand held 7D MII + 400 DO II combo didn't disappoint. Nearly all the frames in a long burst were in precise focus, and I chose this one over the rest because of the upwing position and the good eye contact.

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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 10, 2017, 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, 19.70 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bee-eater trying a different menu

Despite its name, this resident bird's diet is not limited to bees. I've seen it hawk many types of insects in the air, including dragonflies like this one in the photo. I suppose the bird-namers chose "bee-eater" for brevity. It's indeed awkward to call this one a Blue-tailed Dragonfly-eater

These birds often fly high over the Bued River early in the morning to catch their breakfast. I had to mount a 2x teleconverter on the 400 2.8 L IS to get a bit closer. Even then, I had to crop massively. 

The AF speed of the combo is still pretty decent, but initial subject acquisition and tracking through an angle of view of 1,280 mm (800 mm x 1.6 crop factor) is very  tough for me. I was very lucky to get and keep this one within the frame at all.

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus, resident)

Habitat - Open country usually associated with water along rivers, marshes and ricefields.

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 2, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/2.8 L IS II + EF 2x TC III,
800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400 (pushed +1 stop during RAW conversion), approx. 49.70 m distance, manual exposure in available light, 

475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800 x 600.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Call of the Red-keeled Flowerpecker

This short footage features the call of this tiny Philippine endemic. The 7D MII's on-board microphone did a good job of picking up the sound from over 20 meters away, even with a lot of background noise. The background noise was filtered out during post process to isolate the call.

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Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Canopy of forest, edge and flowering trees.

Shooting info – Bued River, La Union, Philippines, April 23, 2017, EOS 7D Mark II + EF 400 f/2.8 L IS + EF 2x TC II + EF 2x TC III,
1600 mm, f/14, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, WB manually set at CT = 5000K, 1080/59.97p capture processed to 720/23.976p, sound recorded by the camera’s on-board mic,  Manfrotto 516/475B support.


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