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Between Rains

I have been missing out on prime egret photography time due to the rain, which is supposed to start up again in a few days. So thankfully there were some bold great egrets out by the bay today also enjoying the sun.

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Photos and the Future of this Blog

Walking around the bay trail in Burlingame the other day, even the egrets looked cold with a brisk wind blowing and the sun setting at 5.

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At the beginning of this year, I embarked on a quest to teach myself to use a DSLR. A couple of online classes and 7,000 photos later, I feel competent with my Canon EOS 40D. I added a very nice macro lens and a great ultra wide angle lens to my toolkit mid-year. I’ve gone out shooting about 70 times over the year. I really like going out with my camera for the purpose of taking photographs.

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My purpose for wanting to take better pictures goes beyond photography though. I am an artist and I use my photos as reference for my art. Now that I feel pretty competent at the photography, I am planning to expand this blog to be not just about my photos, but also my art, much of which will be based on the photos. So, soon I will repurpose this blog to include posts and photos of my art.

Thinking about photography as an art instead of thinking about snapping pictures as an afterthought while out and about has improved my art quite a bit. I certainly plan to continue and am contemplating upgrading my camera. Perhaps this is the mark of a true photographer: the desire to constantly buy more gear! In any case, look for a change to the format of this blog soon. It’s been a great year.

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Posing Egret & Flowers

This egret might be the same one I’ve photographed before. He likes to hang out on the shore of the pond where I can get pretty close to him.

Coy Egret

He seemed to be enjoying his modeling career today. First he puffed up his hair.

Egret Mohawk

Then he sang me a song.

Egret Singing

Then he did a funny dance!

Egret dancing

What a ham 🙂

I also saw a lovely peach iceplant flower.

Peach Ice Plant

And a sunbathing nasturtium blossom.

yellow nasturtium

I’m still in awe of my new 100 mm macro lens (which I used for all of these photos.) Really fun to play with the very shallow depth of field at f/2.8

spikey thingWhite flowers DOF

 

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Egret v. Seagull

Half the fun of photographing birds for me is getting to see their antics up close – through the zoom of my camera. This feisty egret was really not having any seagulls up in her business! I was quite entertained watching as she chased away gulls and caught some hilarious pictures. I love the moment she poofed herself up and the gull beat it out of there. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Egret HuntingEgret and SeagullSeagullIrritated EgretAw Hell No Egret

 

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Evening Egrets

It was only a matter of time before some bridges ended up on this here Bay Area photoblog. Behold the San Mateo Bridge at sunset. I can assure that you this is a much nicer vantage point than the view you would have if you were one of the miserable commuters sitting in rush hour traffic on it.

San Mateo Bridge

I am pleased to say I’ve started shooting in manual mode. Keep in mind, I have been taking photos with my iPhone only for the last several years, so this is a learning experience for me. The last camera I really used that wasn’t attached to a phone was the Sony Digital Mavica – it stored images on a floppy disc! Slowly but surely I am getting the hang of having settings I can set. It’s a blast.

Egret on Alert

I’m still working on my Sneaking Up on Birds skills.

Egret Flying with Power Lines

But since I disturbed him, I got a chance to practice my Bird In Flight photo skills instead. I got a couple in focus by shooting continuously and panning, but I liked this one best with the geometric shapes of the power lines in the background.

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Egrets

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At the end of last year, I started seeing lovely white egrets visiting the bayside parks where I like to walk after work. First I saw one or two, then suddenly there were so many it was like an egret festival had descended upon the bay. I found myself fascinated by these beautiful birds.

Try as I might, I could not get a really good photograph of an egret with my iPhone. I’ve been an avid iPhone photographer of things I see while walking about in parks or my neighborhood or hikes for years. One can take quite nice iPhone photographs of certain things, as long as they do not require zoom and you have enough natural light. Getting close enough to an egret was not possible.

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I became slightly obsessed with this idea of taking photos of egrets, and suggested to Santa (my dad) that I would like a real camera. As luck would have it, Santa already had a DSLR currently not being used. So when Christmas rolled around, I found myself the proud new owner of a Canon EOS 40D and a Canon 28 – 135 mm lens.

It had been years since I last used a camera that was not part of a phone. The nicest thing about a phone camera is that you always have it with you. I’ve never taken so many photos  consistently as I did with my iPhone. Another benefit is that there’s not much to think about. The iPhone as camera is so unobtrusive, one can completely forget about the act of photography and focus in on the most important things like framing and composition.

The first time I took out the DSLR, it intimidated me. But I read the manual, watched some videos, and went out to my parks. The first time I saw my photos when I got back to my computer, I was hooked. I want to be a Real Photographer! I want to start a photoblog! Must take more photos!

Egret

I made a point of going out to the parks before and after work every day this week. Not only are early mornings and late afternoons the only time I’m free, they are also the times of most beautiful sunlight. In my first week out, I took over 500 photographs of birds, snails, plants, and park scenes. As you can see from this post, I managed to capture several photos of the egrets that got me interested in upping my photo game in the first place.

I am inspired and gratified by this photography adventure on which I am embarking and I am going to take you with me, dear blog reader. Expect to see bay area nature and wildlife in this space. I live in one of the most gorgeous places of natural beauty on earth and I am going to capture what I see and share it with you. Welcome!