Last Saturday we had to jump the clocks another hour forward. I guess time isn’t moving fast enough for some.
With the coming of spring I have been getting a bit more time at the refuge with the camera and enjoying every moment of it. Our local refuge at Steigerwald is still closed due to fire damage (folks should really use thier ashtrays) with no date given to re-open so I’ll have to stick to the Ridgefield NWR, a bit further but quite a place. The critters there are always willing to pose a bit as long as you keep your distance. Sometimes that distance is more than I want but it is what it is. The Canon 70-200/2.8 IS being used has a Canon 2X extender on it which tends to soften the images a bit but not enough to justify another $1400 or so for a real Canon 400mm. Yet…
A tundra swan on the wing (and mighty large wings they are):
Mr. Wile E. is probably wishing that swan would get a bit closer too:
Time is slipping away faster than the speed of light. Photography was set aside for a while to deal with more pressing matters but I am starting to get back at it. And what a fun start it has been at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Migratory birds always add a new element to the place and the old standbys are still fun to watch and photograph. Yesterday even presented a bit of blue sky and sunshine, a rare event in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.
Be warned, traffic through the refuge can be heavy and slow at times:
Commuters can get cranky too. Here one is making a pointed remark about how inappropriate he finds our RAV4:
Air traffic is always heavy at the refuge so don’t forget to keep looking up:
So if you get a chance to visit the refuge remember to relax, enjoy the ride, and bring your camera and binoculars. Entrance fees are minimal and they do honor the National Parks Senior Pass.
The colors are picking up at the Ridgefield NWR.
A red-winged blackbird showing his muscles…
And a yellow-headed blackbird posing for the camera…
Just a couple of quick shots of big birds over Steigerwald Lake NWR. What a blessing to have such a terrific place so close to home.
Canada Geese Flocking to Hood
Riding the Wind
Someone told me about a daily drawing on the internet. Every day GoPro.com gives one person one of everything they make. They make a neat little point of view camera. Wearable, high def video camera. So I’ve been faithfully entering the contest every day with a daily reminder set on my calendar. And finally my name was drawn. Sure enough, the gear arrived as advertised and I was amazed at the huge box of goodies. The camera does not really instill confidence that it is a serious video unit but a quick trip out to the yard dispelled that idea. It’s an amazing little unit, with a waterproof case good to 180 feet down and enough mounting options to satisfy anyone. They even sent a surfboard mounting unit! And to my amazement the camera does stills and time lapse too.
I played around with my new toy for a couple of weeks with an eye toward an upcoming event where I might put it to a good test – a white water rafting trip to Maupin, Oregon on the Deschutes River. Now there is no way I was going to get in a boat in white water – I shoot pictures from the shore – but I enlisted a great volunteer in Eric who was going to be guiding one of the rafts. Eric had a helmet and last Friday we mounted the camera (it came with a helmet mounting rig) and he set off with 6 teens in his raft headed down the Deschutes River. Cut to the chase – the camera performed flawlessly. With the included second battery pack it lasted the entire 3 or 4 hours on the river with a dump of a 16 gig SDHC card mid-trip. The camera was set to record HD video, 720p at 60 frames/second. A quick look at the results and I was convinced this camera is not a toy. It does an amazing job. While it is capable of full 1080p HD the memory used at that setting is beyond what I could deal with. As it was the trip resulted in 22+ gig of video. That’s a ton of data to edit in iMovie but I’m deep into it now.
Some sample output from the trip can be seen here – Deschutes Conga Line
And a shot of Eric hard at work shooting yet to be edited video – that’s him in the back of the raft:
Hopefully I’ll be posting more material from the HD Hero from http://www.GoPro.com.
Beth and I ended up at Horseshoe Lake, Woodland, Washington one day last week. The shore along the parking lot had quite a few fishermen relaxing in one of the very rare sunny days we’ve seen this year (not warm, but sunny). While shooting some skateboarders just off the parking lot I was surprised to see a large shadow pass over me. Recognizing it as a BIG BIRD I found there were a group (family?) of osprey also fishing. When I spotted one of them make a pass at a stringer of fish one of the fisherman had tethered near the shore I thought this had to be investigated. They are marvelous creatures to watch, all business. And with a mostly clear sky behind them impossible to resist.
I found the very rapid descent nearly impossible to track with the camera but will definitely get back for some practice. But after surfacing unsuccessful he shook the water off and took back to the air.
We made a quick trip to Cannon Beach last week and had the joy of bringing Fidget with us…. He weathered the ride over quite well with only a half dozen or so ‘Are we there yet?’ questions. When we finally got there and got the business taken care of (Beth was dropping off more paintings for the Whitebird Gallery) we went for walk on the beach. It was quite windy and not very warm but the sun was shining and that was terrific.
Fidget wanted a peek through the scope. Unfortunately it was full of water
Beth caught Fidget with me walking down the beach.
And the locals were out keeping an eye on things.