P52 38/52 Ruff Winter Plumage

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ruff Winter Plumage

This was a very exciting sighting for me, and most other birders in the area. This bird is a rare visitor to North America according to my Sibley’s Birds of North America book! It’s been hanging around a local salt pond for over a week now. I had a bit of time yesterday so went over in hopes of seeing and photographing it even though I was going over rather late in the morning. I got lucky! It was there in its favorite corner of the pond, but only for about 5 minutes before it flew off.  Thankfully it was enough time for me to capture this image.  I haven’t seen any reports of it today, but hope it’s still here.

Now, I want to travel north in the Spring to see the Male in Breeding Plumage. It’s an awesome looking bird. Reminds me of an English Judge and the fashion trend during Renaissance Times.

If you’ve never seen an image of a Male Ruff take a look at Nat Geo’s photo here

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4 w/Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter| Lexar Professional Digital Film

More to come…

Sun salutation

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Sun SalutationTaken last week-end while looking for Cedar Waxwings. He was a delightful pause along the journey.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 300mm f4 @ f5.6| 1/1000s| ISO 800| Manual Priority|

Tufted Puffin-Adult Summer

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Tufted Puffin-Adult SummerThis is the first time I’ve ever seen a Puffin in the wild! I went on a Birding trip out to the Farallon Islands 27 miles outside of San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean. We weren’t allowed on the island-only Biologists are allowed on the island, but we cruised all around them and then we went out to deeper water from there. Along the way we saw 3 Tufted Puffin.

There are only 50 pairs of Tufted Puffin nesting on the Islands at this time, but there thousands of gulls, Common Murre’s, lots of Cormorants, seals, sea lions, and one lone Gannet. In deeper water we saw Hump Back whales, and a Blue Whale too.

I saw so many new birds on the trip, and the one bird I hoped to see was the Tufted Puffin. I went home a happy sailor just seeing one. I hoped I got one good shot.
The weather was overcast, and to get the shutter speed I needed I really pushed the ISO. Shooting from the boat was challenging. I would focus on a bird then the boat would go up or down and my focus point was off. I didn’t start to get the rhythm of the sea til near the end of the day, and then there wasn’t much to see as we were pushing hard to get back.
We were out at sea for nearly 9 hours.  I went with Alvaro’s Adventures out of Half Moon Bay. I would definitely go again.

Alvaro is a Biologist, and he had two expert birders along for the tour. One was on the starboard side calling out birds and mammals, and the other on the Port side doing the same. I don’t think we missed anything flying or swimming on our route.

I’ve not been able to spend much time online lately. #1 Grandson is very busy and takes all my attention these days. I’m looking at your  photos when I can and I’ll catch up soon!

Nikon D700| Nikkor 70-300mm VR@ 280mm| f9| 1/1000s| ISO 1250| Manual priority| Matrix Metering| Hand-held

” My only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t? ” Cruella De Vil in Disney’s 101 Dalmations

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved

live for furs. I worship furs! AI’m continuing to play with my Speedlight off camera. I have to re-learn how to set it up before I can use it if I let too much time pass between using it off camera. For this shot I used my homemade Snoot for the lighting on this.  This is my Homemade Snoot on my SB600.

DIY 7.5 in. SnootI made it with an old tea box, and Gaffer’s Tape

DIY 7.5 in. Snoot Project “How To” make my Snoot:

What I used and did
A tea box
Box cutter
Gaffers Tape
Painters Tape
SB600 w/Finished Snoot

I cut the box to fit around the Speedlight then covered both the inside and outside of the box with Gaffers tape. I couldn’t find any Velcro in the house so I used Painters tape to temporarily close the Snoot around my SB600 Speedlight. I had planned to put Velcro on the seam so I can re-use the Snoot for future projects, but I never got around to that.

I think it works pretty well. These characters I’ve had stored since the 1990’s.

The Mesquite Dunes and Amargosa Range

Via Flickr:
Copyright 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This is from my May trip to Death Valley. It was windy most the time I was there the first two days, but on this evening the winds subsided a little, and the sky was blue so He-Man and I struck out across the flat toward the Dunes. I stopped a few times along the way to capture vistas of the dunes and mountains behind them.
There was sand in the air and blowing off the dunes. You can kind of see that on the dune in the sunlight on the bottom left if you look around the edges around it. It gave the image a softness I like. I also liked the shadows and light on the dunes and mountains.

I rented the new Nikkor 80-400mm G for this trip and I used it to take this photo.
Someday I’d like to upgrade my 70-300mm VR with this lens.

I’m also trying out On One Perfect Suite 7 Premium. I’m a week into the 30 day trial. I’ve used Perfect Portrait quite a bit, and Perfect effects, and focal point.
I haven’t been able to figure out how to access Perfect Layers from LR yet so I sent OnOne customer service an email asking them how to do that. I’ve heard from them this afternoon, so I’ll try it tomorrow.
I’m not really skilled in Lightroom either, but with Adobe’s new Creative Cloud scheme that requires a monthly fee I’m looking into different software to do the layering development work I need.
So far I like Perfect Portrait, and Effects a lot. The presets are really nice and you can fine tune them. On this photo I used Tonal Contrast, and in the Landscape Preset Folder I used Fall Enhancer. In Lightroom I tweaked the highlights, shadows, exposure, clarity,  and did a little dodging and burning.  Then to finish up I went into CS6 to add my watermark, and resize the photo for the web.  I know…I need to figure out how to do this Lightroom. I think it’s possible.
For help with the techniques and “how to’s” in Lightroom I’m using the book by Scott Kelby called the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 book for Digital Photographers, and John Davenport’s Youtube.com Let’s Edit series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfmccqzrt18

I’ll let you know how I like Perfect Layers in the coming days.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 80-400mm at 112m| Circular Polarizer| Tripod


Clark’s Nutcracker

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Clark's NutcrackerMy friend Jackie had thought to take or purchased bird food to lure  birds to her deck while on vacation in Lake Tahoe.
She had been feeding them all week; throwing bird food loaded with peanuts,seeds, and berries on the decking, setting it on the railing, and tossing some to the roof top below the deck.
By the time I arrived the birds to my delight were coming really close to us to get the food. I think we spent 2 hours on the deck photographing the Stellar Jays, and Pygmy Nuthatches.
Just as I was getting ready to quit shooting and get ready for our excursion around the lake this bird flew to the top of a farther Douglas Fir I think.  It’s not a bird I’d ever seen before. I thought it was a Thrasher at first by its bill, but KUDO’s to Jackie who identified the bird when she got home to New Jersey as a Clark’s Nutcracker.

It’s taking flight off the tree in the photo above. I’m glad I got this shot because it shows more wing and tail detail than my earlier shots of it just sitting and surveying the landscape in the photos below.

Clarks Nutcracker profile 2

Clarks Nutcracker Left Profile
Here’s another photo of a Pygmy Nuthatch with a bug or something in its bill.

Pygmy Nuthatch

Here’s a snapshot of Jackie and I in late afternoon light hanging around the shore waiting for Golden Hour and Sunset.

Jackie and I waiting for sunset Lake TahoeNikon D300s, and D700 w/Nikkor 300mm f4, and 17-35mm.