(part of brett's logjam.)
9 December 2009
28 November 2009
15 October 2009
Looking up at the chandelier in the rotunda inside Jamestowne Settlement. I’ve spent a lot of time there of late.
28 February 2009
Yeah, I took another vacation, this time down to Marco Island, Florida.
I, along with much of my family, had the flu down there. But really - there are worse places to have the flu.
The first few days were foggy. That’s okay. I like foggy beaches.
And then it was windy, and then it was calm. Very, very calm.
More photos are on Flickr.
29 November 2008
I’ve had a frustrating couple of weeks with my camera. The clouds seem to roll in every time I grab my camera to go out, and my tourist trip to Washington DC this week was no exception.
I lived in the DC suburbs for five years. In all that time, I think I went in to the city as a tourist more than three times. I’d visited the sights of DC more often when I lived in other places than I ever did as a resident, sadly.
Which is really too bad, because DC does show well.
I’d been to most of the memorials before, but never to the FDR Memorial on the tidal basin. It was a pleasant surprise, with the story of his presidency unfolding as you walk through the site.
Of all the memorials I visited that day, the FDR seemed to offer the most hope for our present situation.
Given the number of cherry trees in the area, I imagine that this is stunning in the springtime.
The grey skies lent themselves to the Korean War Memorial. The faces rising out of the black wall seemed to fit the cold, wet day.
More pictures at the Washington DC 2008 set on Flickr.
19 November 2008
If you haven’t been following along on Twitter, you may not know that I’m on vacation for the next two weeks.
I took the opportunity to tag along with Merrystar as she went to work in Charlottesville at the NRAO this week. I had gone up for the NRAO 50th Anniversary Symposium last year, but never actually got to the NRAO offices.
They are perfectly nice offices.
That’s the funny thing about astronomy: it’s incredibly cool science, but it’s still a job. There are budgets and offices and management just like your job. The trappings of the job just don’t have much to do with the actual work that’s done there. Yes, there’s a big TV running video news of recent advances in astronomy instead of CNN. But it’s still a place to work.
About the only real difference between it and a technology startup was that there are no cubicles or open-space work areas: it’s all offices.
Well, that and the fact that practically everyone has a PhD.
I spent some time wandering the UVA campus. The stadium is very nice, but I couldn’t get in to take some of the obviously good shots. (I’m sure there are non-obvious good shots, too. But it’s a moot point.)
I went up to the McCormick Observatory, which was very quiet and peaceful. Saw two Pileated Woodpeckers, but didn’t get decent photographs of them.
The clouds rolled in so I didn’t stay. I went down to wander the university campus proper instead. The light was just not good once the clouds arrived, and I felt like I was forcing a lot of shots. This one — totally cliché, I’m sure — is one of the better ones. I took a lot of shots of the rotunda which just didn’t work.
It was honestly frustrating to see the picture, have the composition in one’s head, but have terrible light. Oh well.
So I gave up and went and got a burger.
UVA has an order of magnitude more students than my alma mater, so I was really not ready for the crowds streaming across the campus at 10:55. I took refuge in the rotunda and warmed up.
I headed over to Monticello after lunch. I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. It’s very pretty, but I was a little disappointed not to meet people running around in period dress.
(What can I say? Living in Colonial Williamsburg definitely spoils you for historical recreation.)
The clouds also finally cooperated as the sun was setting, so I got pictures to turn out the way I wanted. Froze my fingers getting them, though.
More pictures at the Charlottesville 2008 set on Flickr.
16 November 2008
This is one of my favorite pictures from November, of two Canadian Geese coming in for a landing at the Newport News reservoir. It’s a cameraphone shot off my iPhone, run through CameraBag to look like a Holga film camera.
Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun with CameraBag. I’m okay with that.
30 October 2008
16 October 2008
12 October 2008
11 September 2008
24 August 2008
I got the Eye-Fi Share this week. It is generally great, but has some quirks.
- Uploads to local folder/iPhoto and Flickr
- Easy to set up
- Dead simple to use
- Does just what it says
- Slower writes than other SD cards
- Can’t do burst photography
- Movies are limited in length
- Only works on one wifi network
- Burns out batteries pretty quickly
- Photo uploads hammer network
- Camera is yet another thing to check
Overall, I’m happy with it. The burst mode thing got me at a birthday party, but I got over it. It’s really simple to use, and making me consider Flickr as a primary photo repository.
27 June 2008
25 May 2008
6 May 2008
1 May 2008
An Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) perches on the deck in my backyard.
27 April 2008
I seem to be on the mend; I actually enjoy taking bird pictures again.
My ear is healing well, with substantially fewer periods of dizziness or pain. It’s still a bit numb, but as the nerves were cut it’s expected. (Apparently, it’s going to itch a lot when they regrow.)
I am cautiously optimistic about regaining some hearing. I think it’s a little better, especially in crowds. I’d like to see the hearing test results in a month or so before really believing it, though.
Mostly, I’m glad it’s all over with. Less thinking about ears, more listening to birds.
The weekend was filled with a welcome set of domestic activities, none of which were beyond my abilities; mowing the lawn, planting some trees and bushes, putting together a bookcase for T.
This is a modest list, to be sure.
But I take great joy that these tasks were merely exhausting, not debilitating.
It’s a welcome change.
19 April 2008
The tulips in my front yard are doing quite well this year. I suspect it helps that there are very few deer paths nearby.
Also, if you like flowers, I highly recommend visiting the Keukenhof near Lisse. I recommend it even if you don’t like flowers, because it’s that wonderful an experience.
12 April 2008
29 January 2008
12 January 2008
I don’t normally do self-portraits. Call it a character flaw, but I find the rest of the world far more interesting than the face I shave in the mirror every day.
This was a different day. This was the day I discovered that one of my immediate family members has cancer.
I was jovial and positive on the phone. But after I hung up, I grabbed my camera to go shoot outside in a desperate attempt to not face it.
It worked about as well as you think it would have. Nothing held my interest.
Finally, I just sat down in the middle of the woods, put the camera on continuous shooting, and let myself think.
This is not a good picture of me. It’s not going to win any awards, or convince people that I should quit my day job and become a model. I’m not happy, or positive, or any of the things people usually associate with me. The lighting is going as the sun sets.
But it’s an honest picture, one that captures a moment that I pray I never have to face again, but know that I will.
And honest pictures should be celebrated for what they are, not what you think they should be.
Just like life.
8 January 2008
But seriously. Compare the photo from the previous post, sent via email to Flickr:
to the same photo, sent via email, but compressed on Tumblr:
Guys? I really want to like Tumblr, but you’re not making this easy on me.…
1 January 2008
23 December 2007
22 December 2007
A Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perches in a sweet gum tree.
20 December 2007
Recruiting sign on display at the Casemate Museum in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Amidst all the family activities this weekend, I spent some time considering the Tumblr Photo Compression problem. I had some downtime tonight to finally poke around at some of the alternate solutions I’d come up with while doing other things.
My conclusion? The compression is pretty bad. But creating some Flickr/Movable Type 4 hybrid thing to solve that problem is like using regular expressions: now you have two problems.
Tumblr is simple enough for me, for now. I’m tired of messing around with complicated systems; getting away from them is the entire point. The photos likely look worse on your screen than they do on my phone, and I’m sorry about that.
But the good ones will wind up in the Photo log eventually, anyway. So don’t worry about it.
Moving on now.
17 December 2007
An American Cream Draft horse, at Colonial Williamsburg.
14 December 2007
It’s rather a pity that Tumblr applies so much compression to photos uploaded to their service. It’s the only flaw I’m unhappy about, because it actually degrades the quality of the content I’m publishing. Everything else I can accept as part of minimalist blogging, but this is like smearing Vaseline over my lens. Which is, you know, not what I generally do.
(Oddly, the compression is mitigated on an iPhone. I suspect the massive DPI is to credit.)
I’ve put some comparisons up on Flickr, but will have to see if it’s the email compression the iPhone applies, or Tumblr’s. I suspect that the former shouldn’t be underestimated — and as a consequence, the iPhone camera appears to take worse shots than it really does.
The Palace Cupola at Christmas is now up in the original size if you would like to use it for a desktop picture.
(I really should shoot with a tripod more often.)
12 December 2007
11 December 2007
9 December 2007
You may have noticed that I shoot a lot of horse photographs. Part of this is because my son went through a period when he could not get enough of the horses downtown in Colonial Williamsburg.
And part of it, frankly, is that I like horses. I can’t ride worth a damn, but I like ‘em anyway. So there.
We’ve had a few new arrivals in the CW stables in the last few months, and I haven’t learned all the new kids’ names, so I can’t properly attribute these photos to a model. But eventually I’ll have the current crop down.
Anyhow, I kept telling him, over and over, that I had no treats on me and just wanted to take his picture. No apples, no mints, no altoids.
He preened, and posed, and then pestered me for a reward anyway.
Oh well. I gave him a good nose-scratching to make up for it.
The Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg has a storied history, and is well worth the visit.
The Tucker House at Colonial Williamsburg serves as the donor reception center, where contributors of $100+/year can go to take a break while touring CW. The house is staffed by helpful, friendly volunteers — all of whom know my son.
When he was younger, Trip would go there three times a week without fail. Now that he’s older (2.5 and counting!), his schedule is more erratic, but he still visits about once a week or so to get a cookie and eat it on the front sign. Given how hot and cold it can be walking around Williamsburg, I’d say we more than get our money’s worth out of his contribution.
This photograph was taken in the late afternoon sun, from the Palace Green. I used a tripod for the first time on one of my walkabouts this particular afternoon, with some good (and bad) results.
More photos from this shoot to follow.
8 December 2007
25 November 2007
Each year, the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas puts on a holiday display of trains for charity.
It is, honestly, pretty darn cool.
More photos are available in the Flickr Set.
6 November 2007
31 October 2007
Busy again this year; 91 kids, one more than last year.
Trip was more interested in answering the door than collecting candy.
He’s a funny kid.
20 October 2007
Colonial Williamsburg’s "Prelude To Victory" weekend celebrates the march of the American and French armies through Williamsburg on their way to besiege the British forces in Yorktown in October, 1781.
More photos are available in my Flickr set .
6 October 2007
5 October 2007
30 September 2007
29 September 2007
23 September 2007
22 September 2007
“The BOOKBINDER will be open at one o’clock in the afternoon.”
I think I’d like a profession that I could spell in ALL CAPS.
19 September 2007
I love ISO warning glyphs. There’s nothing like clearly communicating
gruesome death scenarios to enliven one’s day.
The second one is a personal favorite.
9 September 2007
8 September 2007
A House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) sits on my stoop.
1 September 2007
26 August 2007
This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly alit for a moment on the ground before taking off in a frenetic flight around me. He was terribly difficult to shoot, even in rapid-fire mode.
The Tiger Swallowtail is the state insect of Virginia.
19 August 2007
11 August 2007
- Being able to post iPhone pictures to this site while flying across the country, or to Trip’s website on a daily basis, admittedly rocks.
- Some photos that get posted here deserve comments, but you know my position on comments on this blog.
- The hundreds of pictures I post don’t count towards my somewhat limited space on my webhost.
Unfortunately, and I can say this because I know nearly all the readers of this blog, Flickr is not well-liked among my friends and family. And I can see why:
- It has a confusing interface for browsing many pictures.
- Multiple people had login problems.
- Organization is a) confusing to a casual browser and b) requires another step in organizing photos. (Sorry, but tagging doesn’t immediately make sense to a lot of people.)
I do most of my work in iPhoto; while I’d started bumping into the performance limits of iPhoto 5, I knew that I could always upgrade to iPhoto 6 to fix that problem, but I also knew that a new version was coming any day now. So that wasn’t a huge issue (but it was certainly making me grumpy.)
More importantly, there was no way to eliminate that second step of having to organize photos on the website as well as within iPhoto. There are good export plugins to Flickr, but that’s all they are — exporters. Once the photo is up, there’s no way to sync information.
Eventually, and you can probably go back in my photostream to find the exact date, I just gave up on organizing my photos on Flickr. Too much time was spent tagging, writing captions, assigning to sets. It was a step that I didn’t need, and no one commented on it when it went away, and it didn’t have any impact on my negligible social presence in Flickr… so it was gone.
Earlier this week Apple released their .Mac Web Gallery, which is seriously all kinds of awesome if you already use iPhoto and .Mac. Even if you don’t, it’s still all kinds of awesome as a photo gallery. Slick? Yes. But its also easy to use, with download and upload tools that make sense. Its interface is easy for visitors to change.
Or, at least, that’s my impression of it.
I was giddy when I saw how it integrated with iPhoto in the demos. (I was also giddy at how it integrated with the iPhone, but that’s another story.) You make a change in iPhoto and it appears on the web. If a visitor uploads a photo to the gallery, it goes back down to iPhoto. Hooray!
It’s shiny, it’s glossy, and it certainly holds a lot of promise for making my life easier. It doesn’t do some of the things Flickr does well, like generic camera phone uploading, posting to blogs, and holding large-resolution versions at the ready. I can see both as tools that work, and that this isn’t an either/or proposition.
But some feedback to Flickr was so negative when I switched last time, I’d be a fool to not ask you what you think.
my gallery. Please let me know what you think of it.
9 August 2007
Unfortunately, the eggs that are on the caterpillar are wasps who will hatch and kill it.
Nature sure can be gross.
8 August 2007
4 August 2007
I ended up watching a lot of movies on my iPhone on my recent trip out to California. Holding it gets pretty old, though, especially when you’re getting ready to sleep.
The solution is pretty obvious when you have all those nice, heavy pieces of cardstock lying about.
2 August 2007
1 August 2007
31 July 2007
30 July 2007
29 July 2007
28 July 2007
27 July 2007
Last August, a nor’easter dropped 10 inches of rain on Williamsburg, damaging the dam on Lake Powell. As a temporary measure, the water levels of the lake were lowered by 7 feet to reduce the pressure on the dam.
This summer, the mud turned green as a variety of grasses and plants colonized the lakebed, slowly creeping across the flats. Geese and herons are a common site along the banks of the marshy stream that flows through the northern side of the lakebed. It is a far, far different site than the placid lake ever was; this view constantly changes, an environment in transition.
Nature finds a way.
23 July 2007
21 July 2007
20 July 2007
19 July 2007
Every weekend before Independence Day, Williamsburg is invaded by His Majesty’s forces and placed under martial law.
Soldiers are everywhere.
(And I mean, everywhere.)
The town is turned into an armed camp, and townsfolk are arrested and subject to military justice.
Papers are tucked into the brims of hats, ready to be presented when requested. And they are requested a lot.
This weekend recreates the occupation of Williamsburg from June 25th to July 4th, 1781, by the British forces under General Lord Cornwallis.
The occupying army were not maurauders, and made efforts to win over the Colonists.
Some Loyalists even signed up for service.
It was, however, still an occupation. There is nothing trivial about martial law.
The presentation of the tyranny that led to the ‘Revolt of the Colonies’ is a startling reminder of what freedom is, by taking it away for a weekend.
Life goes on, but it is far, far different.
The re-enactors who converge on Williamsburg do a great job. They present the human side of the enemy in our national creation myth, and show that the American Revolution was fought not by monsters, but by honorable men.
They accurately portray the variety of forces that fought during the war, including the Hessian mercenaries:
And many of the British dragoon corps:
As well as many of the infantry regiments:
And all sides of the military are presented.
I should mention that it’s wickedly hot, they’re wearing wool, and they sleep in tents. We had a major thunderstorm roll through this year, too.
And by invading my peaceful town once a year, they remind us all of how tyranny looks, lest we forget.
More photos are available in my Under the Redcoat set on Flickr.
14 July 2007
6 July 2007
3 July 2007
NOW it’s time to relax. (Taken on my iPhone, squee!)
30 June 2007
(Taken at the NRAO 50th Anniversary Symposium.)
18 June 2007
17 June 2007
Because my son loves horses, I am now able to identify most of the horses that pull Colonial Williamsburg’s carriages on sight. For example:
That’s Jack and Jill; I recognized them because Jack could stand to lose a few pounds. (And by a few, I mean a lot.)
Jack, of course, is usually in the pasture on DoG street, greedily taking handouts from the visitors. He looks much more dignified in this picture than when he’s snarfing grass from kids.
16 June 2007
I was really quite happy with how this series of shots turned out; the Tucker House always provides a nice striking background. (I think the second shot is my favorite for exactly this reason; the background is outstanding.)
And, you know, I’m there every week. So it’s not really out of my way.
This bird rooted around on the ground for a little while before moving up to the top of the fence. I didn’t know what he had in his mouth until after I viewed it on my computer.
8 June 2007
6 June 2007
Jack, one of Colonial Williamsburg’s carriage horses, pauses for a close-up.
24 May 2007
20 May 2007
This weekend’s film crew was after the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps Alumni:
Did you know that the Corps has over 700 performances a year? Holy moly.
This was also my first time watching the CW Productions crew at work.
It wasn’t very hot yesterday, so the multiple takes they went through to get the right shots probably weren’t an issue.
It’s hot enough today, though, that I can imagine folks want to get it done right the first time.
Off one of the side streets near William and Mary.
I suspect the sign is trying to fit in with the in-crowd, but may be trying too hard.
18 May 2007
29 April 2007
No shots of Williamsburg this weekend. Merrystar and I instead spent Saturday up in Maryland at a wedding:
I’m normally quite shy about shooting people in public. I take plenty of pictures of my family, but not so many of strangers. That’s unfortunate, as those shots usually turn out quite well.
I confess: it was nice to be at an event where people expect you to be taking pictures of them.
I am also happy to report that everyone remembered their lines.
(Congratulations, you two!)
26 April 2007
23 April 2007
Two of Colonial Williamsburg’s horsemen make ready for yesterday’s Dragoon training.
Dragoons are perhaps unfairly maligned because of their name’s similarity to Dragons — they are mounted infantrymen, usually armed with sword and musket/carbine.
Many of the horses who participated in Saturday’s training had never had military training before, so there was some uncertainty on the trainer’s part as to how the afternoon would go.
A young Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) poses in the nor’easter rain in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Photo by Merrystar.
One of several white-and-yellow Daffodils (Narcissus) in our front bed.
Photo by Merrystar.
A Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), moments before flight.
An American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) perches on a feeder in front of a flowering dogwood.
21 April 2007
I am really quite pleased to have YAH back from the shop.
This time, I took her to Ebby’s Auto Painting & Collision Repair (757-220-0695) and they did a great job with her. Their good reputation in town is justly deserved.
Best of all? She was clean when I picked her up.
It’s the little things that matter.
20 April 2007
18 April 2007
15 April 2007
12 April 2007
7 April 2007
Scene from this morning:
Her: Good morning! We have a surprise for you!
Trip: Mahning! Dada!
Me, groggy: Wha?
Her: <opens shades and points outside>
Me: What the … ?
Indeed, there was snow. Lots of snow.
We had about an inch fall last night, and another inch or so this morning.
The air was cold this morning.
Don’t get me wrong; we still went out for our Saturday morning walk downtown. We just walked quickly. Even Trip admitted it was cold.
(It’s melting out there now, but is expected to freeze over again tonight. Bring your plants in.)
3 April 2007
1 April 2007
31 March 2007
Half of a plastic Easter Egg deposited in the branches of a tree during our neighborhood Easter Egg hunt.
A Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) visits the lawn outside my window at lunch today. He entertained us while he ate his own lunch.
30 March 2007
The only brown woodpecker in Virginia, the Northern Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is an odd duck among woodpeckers: it migrates and commonly feeds on the ground.
A pair have moved into the area in the last few days. When I first saw them rooting around in the leaves, I thought it was a Brown Thrasher… then a Mourning Dove… then a woodpecker that had lost its mind. (The red chevron on the nape of the neck was what clued me to its true nature.)
This is the male of the pair, with a big black moustache. No, really!
29 March 2007
28 March 2007
An American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) perches on a thistle feeder in my backyard.
The Canon S3 doesn’t support a remote, so I sat in the shade of a pine tree about 3 meters away from the feeder and waited.
Goldfinches molt their drab winter colors in the springtime, which is why he looks so patchy right now. Soon he’ll be bright yellow with black and white markings.
I’m fond of goldfinches. They’re ridiculously bright birds, with a crazy up-and-down roller coaster flight path. If you see a yellow streak going up and down through the woods, it’s a goldfinch.
27 March 2007
Photo taken at the March 10th Williamsburg Farmer’s Market.
26 March 2007
It’s interesting to see such a wide variety of blooming trees; the DC area is rightly renowned for the spectacular cherry and pear blossoms during this time of year, but they overshadow everything else. Make no mistake: the sheer concentration of those trees (and not just along the Tidal Basin) makes for quite a sight, and shouldn’t be missed.
But it’s nice to see some variety, too.
25 March 2007
One of several newborn Leicester Longwool lambs in Colonial Williamsburg. This little one is less than a week old.
Other pictures from this morning’s walk are up on flickr. Odd shooting conditions for the first part of the morning, with a visible haze and overcast skies that burned off by mid-morning. This was exactly the reverse of what the forecast called for.
(To see the lambs: go down Duke of Gloucester to Nassau, turn right, go one block.)
24 March 2007
Trip’s Red-bellied Woodpecker finally visits the new peanut feeder, purchased solely for the purpose of luring the woodpecker into sight more often.
This has backfired spectacularly, by the way. I’m telling 2-5 woodpecker stories a day.
23 March 2007
View of the James River from the Kingsmill resort, Williamsburg, Virginia.
We had a nice brunch there last weekend, but I’m pretty sure it won’t make the weekly routine.
Two of the three family Jettas parked for a picnic. JML (‘jay’mull’) is on the left, YAH (‘yaah’) is on the right.
These are fourth generation Jettas. The black one is mine, with the 1.8T turbocharged engine and 17" Long Beach wheels. The silver TDI (my parents in-law’s) is a late model Mark IV diesel.
You can see some of the subtle styling cues introduced at the end of the model run by VW in this picture; note the different trunk lip and rear light clusters. A chrome strip was also added around the newer model to make it look more upscale, though it’s difficult to see in bright sunlight.
The major redesign of the fifth (current) generation Jettas left me cold. I don’t like it at all. Even without the move to the Audi A5 platform, I would not purchase one based solely on the looks alone. It’s now too big, visibility is reduced, and it looks like every other car on the road. I’ll stick with the Mark IVs as the car for me.
(Yeah, I like my car. You’re just now noticing that?)
21 March 2007
A Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) perches in a tree in my front yard.
This Mockingbird sang for quite some time the evening this photo was taken. Unfortunately, this particular bird has built a nest in my yard by my son’s room. I now know who to blame for the singing at 3:00 AM.
(n.b. that he knows, too. When asked who was singing outside yesterday, he said “mock”. The Avalanche of Language continues.)
18 March 2007
Sundial in a garden off of Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.
(Some things don’t need software patches.)
17 March 2007
A Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) takes a peanut from the feeder in my backyard.
This shot was the last in a series taken slowly walking towards the feeder. I was maybe 25 feet away when the wren grabbed the peanut and ran.
I’m really pleased with how this series turned out.
16 March 2007
14 March 2007
Today was a day where every picture I took seemed to be focused on exactly the wrong thing. I’d take a picture of a bird and get the trees 50 feet behind it. I’d take a picture of my wife and get the grass across the street.
For instance, this is supposed to be a picture of my son playing behind a tree. Instead, it’s a shot of some sort of holly.
Some days, it’s best to just take what you’re given and go with it.
12 March 2007
Stephen Moore performs at this weekend’s Williamsburg Farmer’s Market.
I’m off to the City early tomorrow morning. It’s no surprise that I miss this town a little more every time I have to leave.
11 March 2007
New photos up from this morning’s walk in the usual spots.
9 March 2007
A Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), catching some winter sunshine.
8 March 2007
5 March 2007
4 March 2007
These two horses are not pulling a carriage (unlike most of my horse pictures), but are rather riding horses carrying two gentlemen down Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.
3 March 2007
The wind was very strong on the beach today, so the kite made a loud thrumming sound as it flew.
Trip wasn’t really sure about the whole kite thing.
It was a really beautiful day here in Williamsburg, so we went down to the beach of the James River to have a picnic lunch. I took my camera (par for the course these days) and — surprise — there were a lot of birds along the riverside. So of course I snapped a lot of pictures of them, hoping to get lucky.
I was not lucky. Instead, I took about thirty bad shots, in varying states of awfulness.
But here’s the thing about my new Canon S3 IS — even the bad shots are good enough. They may not be great photography, but they’re valuable in learning how to identify birds.
Take, for instance, these two pictures:
Given the number of Turkey Vultures in our skies, it’s easy to think that every big black bird with fingered wings is one. But this one (of a pair) is not. It’s an American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), also relatively common, but with a different flight pattern, different wing markings, and different wing shape than its cousin.
While these photos don’t scream “professional wildlife photographer,” they do let me confirm what I thought at the time — namely, that the white wingtips and wing shapes give it away. I’m pretty sure that I can now tell the difference between these two New World Vultures from a long ways away.
(But the photos are still pretty sucky.)
As we were getting ready to leave, we heard a commotion and then saw two raptors flying overhead, one with something in its talons, the other in pursuit. Someone yelled out “OSPREY!”, and I didn’t even take the lens cap off - I just swiveled the camera up, flicked it on (knocking the cap off as the lens extended) and started shooting.
(Oh my, the suckage! I am ALMOST too embarassed to put these on teh internets, they suck so hard. But I endure the shame to make a point.)
First, the pursuer:
Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), light morph. As soon as I applied the enchancement filter I could see the wing patterns and chest band as clear as day. I wasn’t sure of this until I saw the picture, but now I am.
And as for the onlooker who shouted “OSPREY”?
You, sir, know your Pandion haliaetus well.
(Yes; that Osprey is carrying a fish in its talons, which is why the Red-tail was no doubt interested. I do not know what kind of fish it is — I shoot birds, not fish.)
Now, I’ve never (knowingly) seen an Osprey before, so at the time all I could do is watch it and marvel at the sight. It’s really a striking bird. These very sucky photos, though — they let me go back to the bird books and tell my son about the hawks and ospreys fighting over fish at lunch.
You know it’s a good day when even your bad shots are good.
(Now go to Trip’s site to see the good shots, because these are too embarassing.)
2 March 2007
1 March 2007
28 February 2007
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) high above Colonial Williamsburg.
27 February 2007
There’s an owl in this picture. Somewhere.
Yeah, Trip and I couldn’t find it, either.
(I confess: I love it how he goes oot oot oot whenever he thinks about owls.)
26 February 2007
I dunno. You go out for your Saturday morning walk, someone leaves cannons in your way.
Life is like that sometimes.
25 February 2007
24 February 2007
On our Saturday morning walk through Colonial Williamsburg, this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) landed in a tree less than 4 meters away from me and Trip. He stayed there for about 10 seconds, and then flew off.
(I now understand the value of quick-drawing your camera.)
23 February 2007
22 February 2007
A juvenile light-morph Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perches by Ironbound Road in Williamsburg. He flew down and got a snack by the roadside about a minute after this picture was taken.
20 February 2007
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), no relation to either Turkeys or Old-World Vultures.
19 February 2007
An Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) visits my neighbor’s garden.
(I am really starting to like the Canon S3, in case you hadn’t noticed.)
17 February 2007
Photos up from this morning’s walk through downtown Williamsburg.
16 February 2007
Don’t forget: fill up your feeders, because the Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend.
I’ve already seen a few new (to my backyard) species, like the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) and a Common Grackle. Hopefully Merrystar’s Carolina Wren and my Brown Thrasher will make an appearance.
Saturday Update: Brown Thrasher showed up, along with 2 (!) different kinds of hawks, a new kind of sparrow, and I figured out how to turn on the digital zoom on my new S3.
Also caught this Blue Heron in mid-flight while out on my walk today:
Sunday Update: Another new visitor today, this time a pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Dendroica coronata).
I’m still trying to get the hang of the new Canon S3’s super-zoom. I may have to take the screens off the windows — all the good shots are through the clear glass on the door.
28 January 2007
Saturday morning in Colonial Williamsburg.
January is very quiet in this town.
Still, everyone goes about their morning routine:
Looking for the telltale sign that someone is open for business:
But I think everyone secretly hopes for spring.
(Some folks aren’t very good at keeping secrets, though.)
15 November 2005
I’m going to close up the Daily Photo site. The daily format has its strengths (see Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light for the idea in print, and Dean Allen’s Daily Oliver for a great online version), but it takes a lot of time and effort. The textpattern engine made it possible to put the site together quickly, but there are a lot of steps to process each picture. Each batch of photos took several hours every month — hours I could be taking more pictures!
I need something easier than that. That’s why I switched to a Mac — if I’m going to run UNIX, I may as well have it tightly-coupled with the hardware I get instead of spending days trying to get Linux working on a laptop. I’d much rather play with my son than play with an OS.
So, since the Daily Photo isn’t delivering what I want, I’m taking it down. Sorry.
I’m trying out the gallery software for solving the whole picture issue. Again, there are good things about it, and some things I don’t like one bit. So, the jury’s still out on it.
I suspect that when this is all said and done I will go and handroll something to create static pages on my home server and just call it done. Unless there’s a package that can automatically:
- pull the photos off the CF card,
- back them up my home server,
- copy them into a folder for editing,
- display them on the web,
- (rotating as appropriate),
- (and display EXIM data about the picture),
- allow some comments or captioning,
- not run me over my webhost’s limit,
- offer a RSS / Atom feed for updates,
and all while displaying the pictures in my own picky, idiosyncratic style.
Perhaps I ask too much. Any suggestions?
16 October 2005
Finally getting over a bad cold I got in St. Louis last weekend. A few (geek-related) updates:
- A problem with the photo site that cropped up in the last few days has been fixed; Michal updated some of the apache security modules and a misspelling in my .htaccess file was no longer passed over with equanimity. If you’re still having problems, you may need to restart your browser session.
- Most of my recent activity has been over at Trip’s site, not here, but there’s been an intermittent problem with connections to the photo galleries on Arbonne dropping without reason. I suspect that the cause is some incompatibility with the Netgear MA301 wireless PC card and the new D-Link D524 wireless router I recently got, some wonky problem that will take weeks to find. Restarting network services doesn’t restore the connection; a full reboot is required, which is ridiculous. So I went out and got a faster D-Link card that I’ll upgrade to eventually.
- Speaking of upgrading Arbonne, I got another 250GB hard drive so that I can increase the size of my RAID 1 array from 40GB to 150 or so. (I back up other computers on my Arbonne, so this will function as further backup for them.) I’ve pretty much filled up the 40GB with my CD collection and photo galleries. However, as this upgrade involes the disk with the OS on it, I’m much more worried. Should I copy everything and restore it? Copy some and upgrade to SuSE 9.3? Fresh install time? Questions, questions. I’m sure I’ll dither about this for some time and then do a fresh install.
- The move to a G network has gone smoothly, for the most part. I installed a print server — why did I wait so long to do that? — and the new G cards work well. I still have problems with Tsiolkovsky’s built-in Centrino A/B card, but that’s Intel’s fault. No news on the RHEL 3 → FC 4 conversion; now that Merrystar’s back at work, I’m reluctant to touch any machine that actually works.
And that’s all the network news.
25 June 2005
Introducing: brett’s daily photo.
Every day, this page displays a new picture from my life. Frequent subjects are: my son, Trip; my wife, Merrystar; my son, Trip; the occasional landscape; and my son, Trip. Had I pets, you better believe I’d take pictures of them, too. (With Trip.)
I hope you enjoy it.
(RSS and Atom feeds available on the last updated page, too.)
17 April 2002
As I was downloading pictures from Merrystar’s old digital camera, I came across this:
Doesn’t it look like one of those pictures taken from the ‘70s that was developed using those faulty chemicals that turned everything brown after a few years? All my childhood photographs are tan. The historian in me cries whenever he sees them, even though they match the old M&M colors.