Archive for February, 2013

Frogs alive!

February 28, 2013

Frogs alive!” was recorded live on 25 February 2013 at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

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Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair)

February 26, 2013

The following photo gallery, shown in reverse chronological order, shows a mating pair of Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) spotted along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 26 June 2012.

Photo 2 (of 4) shows the pair “in wheel”; Photo 1 shows the female resting on the boardwalk after copulation; the male is “hover guarding” the female to protect her from other males. Hover guarding is also known as “non-contact guarding.” Photos 3-4 are close-ups of the male and female dragonflies shown in Photo 1: Photo 3 shows the male; Photo 4, the female.

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Photo 1

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Photo 2

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Photo 3

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Photo 4

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Dragonflies in Flight

February 20, 2013

Dragonflies in Flight” is a slideshow featuring 68 still photographs by Walter Sanford. (Hey, that’s me!) The soundtrack is the song “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz (3:41 min).

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Tech Tips: The still photographs were adjusted using Apple Aperture and exported as 16-bit TIFFs. The TIFFs were imported into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 as a collection. The “Slideshow” module in Lightroom was used to create and export the slideshow (56 MB). Watch Adobe TV and learn how to use Lightroom 4 to create a slideshow with music: “Publish a Slideshow,” by Julieanne Kost. See also, Stop-action photography of dragonflies in flight.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Lessons Learned: Lens shadow

February 13, 2013

The following photos show “Louisa,” a good friend and fellow Project Noah spotter, photographing an Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) spotted in the woods along the path between the boardwalk and the observation tower at Huntley Meadows Park.

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I shot the photos using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera. The shadow at the bottom of Photo 1 is called “lens shadow.” Lens shadow is caused when light from a camera’s built-in flash is partially blocked by the lens and/or lens hood. Photo 2 was cropped to eliminate the shadow.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Green Heron

February 9, 2013

A Green Heron (Butorides virescens) spotted in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Lessons Learned: Poor composition

February 7, 2013

The following photo shows a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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This image is SO CLOSE to being a good photograph! If the tip of the hawk’s right wing weren’t clipped at the upper edge of the photo, then the composition would be improved greatly. I tried to track the bird in flight by looking at the LCD on the back of the camera. I thought it would be easier to look at the larger image provided by the 3″ LCD rather than looking through the camera’s electronic viewfinder. The take-away from this very frustrating experience: It’s easier to track moving objects by looking through the camera viewfinder, especially at telephoto focal lengths.

Tech Tips: I shot the photo using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera in Shutter Priority Mode with a focal length of 108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent). I selected a shutter speed of 1/2,000 second to stop action (bird in flight); the camera automatically selected an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f/5.2.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Lessons Learned: Shutter speed too slow

February 5, 2013

The following photo shows a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is feeding on Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens). The flower is acceptably in focus; the butterfly is not. This indicates the blurry butterfly wasn’t caused by camera shake. In this case, the shutter speed was too slow to stop action as the butterfly took flight.

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Tech Tips: I shot the photo using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera in Program Mode with a focal length of 108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) for a subject distance of approximately four- to six feet. The camera selected the following settings automatically: ISO 100; an aperture of f/5.2; and a shutter speed of 1/250 second. I should have used “Program Shift” to select a combination of a faster shutter speed and appropriate aperture. I could have selected a higher ISO in order to enable me to use a faster shutter speed. (Experience has shown an ISO of up to 400 may be used without causing unacceptable noise levels.)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Lessons Learned: Depth of field too shallow

February 3, 2013

The following photo features two male dragonflies spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Shown from left to right: Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis); Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). The dragonflies were perching on different sticks located relatively close together. I hoped both dragonflies would be in focus when I shot the photo. Obviously the Slaty Skimmer, the dragonfly that is closer to me and the one on which I focused the camera, is the only one clearly in focus. The problem is the depth of field is too shallow for the camera settings used to take this photo.

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According to the Online Depth of Field Calculator, the total depth of field is 0.25 feet (3.0 inches) for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera with a focal length of 57.2mm (318mm, 35mm equivalent), an aperture of f/8, and a subject distance of approximately six feet. That means the near- and far limits of acceptable sharpness are 5.88 feet and 6.13 feet respectively. As a result, most of the Slaty Skimmer appears to be focused sharply, while the Blue Dasher is slightly out of focus.

The simplest way to increase depth of field is to select a smaller aperture, e.g., f/16 or smaller. f/8 is the smallest aperture on the DMC-FZ150, so the only solution for this problem may be to use another camera/lens combo.

Tech Tips: Be sure to “use the actual focal length of the lens for depth of field calculations,” rather than the 35mm equivalent. Source Credit: Online Depth of Field Calculator.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Cleared for takeoff!

February 1, 2013

The following photo features three male dragonflies perching on a tree branch at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Shown from left to right: Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta); Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami); Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea). I imagine the three dragonflies are jets parked in a queue on an airport runway, waiting to receive clearance for takeoff.

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Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com


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