2019—Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatches are tiny, adorable birds that, according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, live almost exclusively in long-needled pine forests and are particularly closely associated with ponderosa pines.  I’m pretty sure this is a Ponderosa Pine and I’m certain this is a Pygmy Nuthatch.  Taken at the Red Canyon Lodge in the Flaming Gorge area of Utah with Nikon D5, 500mm PF lens and 1.4x Teleconverter (700mm).

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2019–Saved by a Nuthatch

It’s not the first time a nuthatch has saved the day for us. Once in the Blue Mountains of Oregon with no Great Gray Owls in evidence, a pair of nesting Pygmy Nuthatches made perfect subjects for our small band of photographers. And, this week it has happened again. After three days in the Flaming Gorge area of Utah with only a few distant sightings of a small band of our target Bighorn Sheep which were too far for away for decent photographs, we were itching to photograph some critters. The Red Canyon Lodge where we’re staying outside of Dutch John, UT, has some bird feeders so we decided to try our luck there. First to appear were our old friends, Pygmy Nuthatches but their cousins, the White Breasted Nuthatch, also were great subjects to focus on. They are frequently seen on the trunks of trees, often like this one, heading straight down.

2019–Some Things Haven’t Changed

One hundred fifty years ago, John Wesley Powell left Green River, Wyoming to begin an expedition to explore the Green and Colorado Rivers. On this journey, in May 1869, when he was awed by the sight of the red rock bluffs ablaze In color from the sun, Powell named the area Flaming Gorge. How satisfying it is to see that some things haven’t changed. The sunrise still turns the tops of the cliffs fiery red.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 8-15 Fisheye at 15mm

2019–Cart Creek Bridge

Searching for Bighorn Sheep in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Utah led us to the Cart Creek Bridge which is a suspension bridge that crosses a portion of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. We were taken with its charm and the shadows it created on the ice below it, not to mention the cobbled together rope hanging beneath the span in clear defiance of the ban against jumping off it, considered a Class B misdemeanor offense.

I used my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 8-15 Fisheye lens at 15mm to capture this view.

2019—Interrupted Preening

One of a quintet of Ruddy Turnstones looks up as its flock-mates continue preening on Huguenot Memorial Beach near Jacksonville, FL last month, oblivious to whatever alerted him.  I took this with my Nikon D5 and 500mm PF lens with the 1.4x teleconverter attached and high speed crop set to give me an effective reach of 1050mm.  I was laying flat on the beach with my camera affixed to a panning plate mounted on a Frisbee.

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2019—Waiting to Play

My continuing light painting challenges are indeed that.  Challenging!  This assignment required the use of at least one flash as well as light painting in a one minute exposure with a focal length of 24mm or less. The photograph had to include a person but the person couldn’t be the subject.

I created the background from two lengths of white seamless background paper because mine was only 52 inches wide and I needed a width of 8 feet.  I taped them together and attached them to a stand in my garage.  I positioned the Nikon D850 with a 14-24 mm lens vertically on a tripod at an elevation of about 2 feet.  I set the camera to a focal length of 22 mm, ISO 64, aperture at f/8, and Bulb to get a 60 second exposure.  I used the Nikon WR-R10 to coordinate the flashes and trigger the shutter and used the timer on my iPhone to signal when to end the exposure.  I used two flashes set to 1/8 power.  I opted not to use the Long Exposure Noise Reduction setting which I used in my first two light painting attempts.

My friend Jesse graciously volunteered to be “the person” playing second fiddle (pun intended) to the guitar.  I set up the flashes with colored gels, one placed behind the guitar, one attached to a leg of the stool.  The flash came at the end of the one minute exposure and it colored the otherwise white background and silhouetted Jesse at the same time. Aside from assembling the background which was a one-woman comedy taking hours, the light painting was the most difficult part of making this photograph. Unlike painting the Stanley No. 46 plane with light, which did not have a distant background, I had to be careful where I positioned the light so as not to create a shadow of the guitar on the background.  Creating a diffused pool of light under the guitar also proved to be a challenge until I realized that if I sat down on a stool near the end of the exposure, I could focus the light correctly.  But, most difficult of all was lighting under the brim of Jesse’s hat.  Because of the long exposure, I could stand in the frame behind him to light the brim and I wouldn’t appear in the photograph but I had to be careful that the camera didn’t pick up the beam of light if I moved it beyond his head which created light squiggles.  In the end, this photograph had the best combination of lighting effects.


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