Lemonade from lemons – Mountain Bluebirds


I spent the day going through some of my old photos.  Looking for throwaways that I might try to salvage.  I came across these two Mountain Bluebird photos that I had taken back in February of 2010, during one of my many trips to the Big Bend area of west Texas.  I wanted to get close to some of these birds, as we don’t have them around my home area,  but it was not to be.  I had to settle for a couple images taken from a distance away.

I, for some reason or another, I hadn’t tossed them.  So I decided to see if I could make something of them.  So here are the originals and the end results.  Enjoy.

un-edited

Mountain Bluebird in brush

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/500 sec. @ f8
  • ISO 1000
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – partial

un-edited

Mountain Bluebird on fence post

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/500 sec. @ f8
  • ISO 500
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – partial

So as you can see, the final results probably won’t win any awards, but I do now have some usable photos of these beautiful birds.  Maybe on my next trip I will get some close-ups.   Click on image to see an enlargement.

Whistling visitors to San Angelo


On Friday, Ann, I, and Jodie Wolslager decided we were going to ignore the 100 degree-plus  heat and spend the day doing some birding and photography.  Jodie had just purchased a new Manfrotto tripod and a Wimberley gimbal head, and was anxious to give botha trial run.

We headed for Spring Creek  Park first, spent a little time there, then after that we went to Middle Concho Park.  Both parks are adjacent to Lake Nasworthy.  The Chamber of Commerce personnel were at the lake, getting ready for the annual drag boat races, so it was difficult to reach some of our favorite areas.

However, we did come across these Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  Though not a rarity, they are not here in great numbers, preferring the eastern part of the state.  Unfortunately, at the location of the ducks, there was also a proliferation of trash.  The first photo shows the original image.  The second is my edited version, more tightly cropped and missing the garbage.

un-edited original

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks - edited

Here are the pertinent photographic particulars.  You will notice that I reduced the EV exposure by a minus 1/3.  That was to tone down the sun-drenched rocks behind the ducks.  I cloned out the trash items in Photoshop CS5.

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/400 sec @ f16 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Partial metering
  • Aperture priority
  • Camera mounted on Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Click on either one to see an enlargement.

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)


Sometimes I find it hard to decide which bird to write about, when I haven’t been in the field for a few days.  Such was the case today, since I haven’t been outside because of my eye surgery.  Which, by the way, is finished and my eyesight is beyond excellent.  Can’t wait to get back out tomorrow.

So, anyway, to pick a subject I threw my Stokes bird guide on the floor and it opened up to the Killdeer page.  Just kidding.  I respect my bird guides too much to toss them around carelessly.  But I did just go through my bird photo collections and randomly picked this bird out.

Killdeer

  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/640 sec. @ f9
  • ISO 640
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering: partial
  • Aperture priority

Killdeer on nest

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/2500 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  375mm
  • Metering:  partial
  • Aperture priority

The Killdeer is a tricky little bird, as it can try to lure you away from it’s nest, by pretending to be have a crippled wing.  It will do a controlled flopping in a direction away from the eggs.  Those eggs are usually in plain sight, among some pebbles in open ground, roof top, or driveway, but carefully camoflaged to make them hard to spot.

Killdeer eggs

  •  Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/500 sec. @ f9
  • ISo 400
  • Lens focal distance  360mm
  • Metering:  center weighted average
  • Aperture priority

As you can see, the new-born chicks are fuzzy, long-legged, big-eyed and tiny.

Killdeer chick

  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter – hand-held
  • 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering:  center weighted average
  • Aperture priority

The Killdeer is a resident of Texas year round.    I hope you enjoy the photos and the narrative.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Reminder:  You can still vote until August 14 for my photos in the National Wildlife Magazine photo contest.  Just click here: People’s Choice

Return to the Great Blue Heron’s Nest


Most of you remember the post that I published a couple of weeks ago of the fledglings on the Great Blue Heron nest.   I assumed that the chick would be gone within another week.  Not so.  I went by there over the weekend and there they were.  As I arrived, the adult was just landing to give the kids a feeding.  What a sight.  Those “little” guys got into a frenzy.  All I could see was flying wing, beaks, feet.  Check this image out.  Is this a riot or what?  There are three chicks plus the adult in this picture.

Hey, Ma, we're still hungry

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm – tripod mounted with Wimberley II Gimball head
  • 1/160 @ f13
  • ISO 200
  • Lens focal distance 500

After they were fed, the adult took off and flew upstream, probably to find another helping for the little critters.  Two of them snookered down for a nap but this one decided he wanted to look around a bit.  I was finally able to focus, (pun intended), on getting a better composition and photograph.

Great Blue Heron - fledgling

  •  Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm tripod mounted on Wimberley II gimbal head.
  • 1/800 @ f10
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 500mm

I hope you like the photos.  I had my left eye surgery yesterday and I have discovered a whole new world out there.  Now I can get back to doing what I do best, and try to come up with some more new images.  Click on any of the photos for an enlargement.  Also, of course, to vote for one of my photos, click here People’s Choice.

Photographing San Angelo Country Club


Since this is the week of the playing of the U. S. Open at Congressional Country Club, I thought it would be an ideal time to show you some of my other work.  I know, my forte is probably birds and wildlife, but I really love the beauty of golf courses.  One of my favorites, that I feel is one of the most photogenic in west Texas, is the local San Angelo Country Club.  It is full of character, trees, water, hilly terrain, and a downright difficult 18 holes, at least for me.

Back in 2005 the golf pro invited me to photograph a few holes, to frame and put for sale in the pro shop.  The following are four of those, and they just happen to be some of my the best sellers.  I photographed them, using an original Canon EOS digital Rebel and a Tamron 28-300 zoom lens.  I was new to the digital age back Iwanted to get my feet wet.   Checking the EXIF data, I believe that I mostly set the camera on automatic, because I lacked self-confidence to try to get “fancy”.  I do remember that I shot at ISO 100 for maximum sharpness.

After finishing the shoot, I placed several framed and matted full-frame 12x18s for sale in the shop.  I sold several during the follow months.  If any San Angelo Country Club member is reading this, I still have framed prints left for sale.  Just contact me.  Descriptions are below each image.

Hole Number One.  Probably my favorite of them all.  A lengthy opening hole, downhill with a slight left dogleg.  The second shot must carry a creek that crosses the fairway, then winds up along the right sideof the green.  I took this photograph from across the creek, looking up towards the flag.  It was early morning and I liked the light that was coming from the left.

Hole Number Three.  Another par four.  This photograph is looking across the green toward another adjacent hole.  The fairway comes in from the left of the picture, but I liked this old Mesquite tree in the foreground.

Hole Number Six.  This a beautiful par three.  It doesn’t play as long as it looks.  I think the water is intimidating.  Somehow I always picked too much club and ended up air-mailing the green.  With the menacing pond in front, that is not a bad mistake.

Hole Number 10.  Another nice little par three to begin the last nine.  From another elevated tee that carries a little creek.

Well, so much for my golf photography.  I haven’t played in nearly four years, but looking again at these pictures, I am getting a hankering to do so again.  FORE!!!!!  🙂

Also, to vote for one of my photographs in National Wildlife Magazine’s annual contest, click here  People’s Choice .


Owl at Spring Creek Park


This morning Ann and I made a quick trip out through Spring Creek Park.  We chanced upon this juvenile Great Horned Owl in a tree.  Ann’s sharp eye is what spotted it initially.  Further along, and across creek, we spotted a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  I hope you enjoy the photos, and click on either one for an enlargement.  The EXIF data is below each one.

Great Horned Owl

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS telephoto lens with 1.4 teleconverter
  • 1/2500 sec @ f6.3 – plus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 3200
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Shutter priority
  • Partial metering

    Yellow-crowned Night Heron

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS telephoto lens with 1.4 teleconverter
  • 1/2500 sec @ f5.6 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 640
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Shutter priority
  • Partial metering

Note:  For both shots I hand-held the camera with the aid of my Puffin’ Pad platform resting on the window sill of my car.  Also, to vote for one of my photographs in National Wildlife Magazine’s annual contest, click here  People’s Choice .

Chili Macho Nachos – Update


Just a few adjustments that I must make to the fore-published recipe for Ann’s Chili Macho Nachos.  First, I might mention that with the mentioned amounts of the various ingredients, you will have enough for about four plates of the nachos.  That’s figuring you will fill the plates with around fifteen to twenty scoops.

Also, one commentor mention about seeding the jalapenos.  Hey, what do I know?  I only write this stuff.  I checked with Ann and she said that, yes, you should take the seeds from the jalapenos. 🙂

So, with that out of the way.  Here is a photo of a female Bullock’s Oriole that I took yesterday morning near the entrance to San Angelo State Park.

  • Bullock’s Oriole – female
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens withe 1.4 tele-converter – hand-held
  • 1/2500 sec. @ f5.6 – plus 2/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 320
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Partial metering

Enjoy the photo and click the image to see an enlargement.  Don’t forget the voting is still open for that Peoples Choice Awards at this link: People’s Choice Award.  I appreciate everyone’s help. 🙂

Let’s make Chili Macho Nachos


Okay, what the heck.  Let’s break away from the birding and photography and have some fun.  Last night, for supper, Ann decided to make one of my favorite dishes.  Chili Macho Nachos.  Delightfully tasteful little creations by Ann that are great munchies to be eaten with a Margarita or some other liquid refreshment of your choice. 

Anyway, I decided to take photos of her at work.  Boy, didn’t she love that.  Yeah, right.  Okay, let’s make that photos of her work, not at work.  Then, after looking at the images, I decided that even though they were just snapshots and not technically fantastic, they would work for this blog.  At the time, though, I wasn’t thinking of doing a blog on the subject. 

So, if you have decided that you would like to do this, first you have to make the Chili Macho.  Well, let’s digress a bit.  Actually, first you have to go and purchase the following stuff:

  • One package of Tostitos Scoops – see picture
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • 2 – fresh Jalapenos
  • 1 – fresh medium sized tomato
  • 1/4 White dry medium sized onion (they’ll make you buy one whole) 🙂
  • 1 – pkg of finely shredded cheese
  • Canola oil
  • Water (you should have this at the house) 🙂
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef

Back at the house, dice or chop fine, the fresh Jalapeno, the tomato, and the 1/4 dry white onion.  Season all this to your taste with the ground pepper and garlic salt, depending on how hot you like it.  Mix this concoction up with 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil and 2 tablespoons of water.  Now you have the Chili Macho.  You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate if you like.

Next brown your ground beef.  Ann says you should know how to do this.  It’s a good thing that she does it and not me.  I only write this stuff.

Okay, next open the package of the Tostitos Scoops.

Place a bunch, around 15 or 16, I forget how many, around the middle of a plate as shown here.

Next fill each little scoop with your browned ground beef.  Incidentally, if you are not a beef eater, you can substitute, chicken, fish, frog legs, or anything you like.  If you are vegetarian, you can skip this step altogether and go directly to adding the Chili Macho.

Ain’t that lookin’ good already?  The best is yet to come.  Now pile on a lot of your shredded cheese.

Danged if I ain’t gettin’ hungry.  Okay, if yours looks like the picture above, put it in the micro-wave for 45 seconds.  That will warm the cheese and the whole thing a bit.  After you remove it from the micro-wave, fill all the scoops with the Chili Macho that you made up earlier.

Now you have the Chili Macho Nachos.  Boy Oh Boy!!  Take if from me, this is really fine eating.  By the way, the Chili Macho is actually a great dip for any occasion.

Should you not like it, don’t blame me.  Just call 1-800-ANN-ZELLER 🙂  One more thing.  Any resemblence between this post and Heather Shoemaker’s Mish Mosh blog, is strictly co-incidence. 🙂

Tale of the Take – Fledged Great Blue Herons


This past Monday morning, before I had to see the doctor for my pre-surgery instructions, I went with Ann for a little drive along the Concho River, here in downtown San Angelo.  Along the way, we saw activity up in a Great Blue Heron aerie.  It was about 50 feet high in a tree overhanging the river.  With our binoculars we discovered that there were three fledglings, nearly old enough to fly.

It was a very exciting moment, so I got my tripod and camera out of the car and set it up about another 50 feet away from the tree.  The sun was right at me so the birds were back-lit in the morning sun.  To photograph them from the side with better light I would have to have been in the river itself.  I compensated by adjusting my EV (exposure value) setting.  I exposed around 75 images and the  following are three of my favorites. 

The first is of the fledglings themselves.  The second has the adult mother.  The third shows one of the fledges peeking over the edge of the nest, maybe thinking about making the big jump.  I hope you enjoy my cute captions.  Click on either one for an enlargement.

"All My Children"

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
  • 1/1250 sec @ f13 – Plus 1/3 EV compensation
  • ISO 1000
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Aperture priority
  • Partial metering
“But, Ma, we’re hungry!”
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens
  • 1/640 sec @ f10 – plus 2/3 EV compensation
  • ISO 320
  • Lens focal distance 320mm
  • Aperture Priority
  • Partial metering

    "We double-dare ya!"

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm with 1.4 tele-converter
  • Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
  • 1/320 sec @ f10 – plus 2/3 EV compensation
  • ISO 100
  • Lens focal distance 700mm
  • Shutter priority
  • Partial metering

You can still vote for me.  Click on this link People’s Choice Award, then check off your favorite photo.  I appreciate you. 🙂

Gone for a few days, but I’ll be baaaaaack :-)


I will be gone from blogging for a few days.  I am scheduled for cataract surgery Tuesday and I don’t know if I will have time to post on Monday.  I have to go through pre-op stuff.  At any rate, I will be thinking of y’all.  I don’t know why I have to go through this surgery.  I thought it was only for old people, and I am only 76 years old. 🙂

I will show you a couple of pictures here, in keeping with my policy of having at least one picture in any given post.  Incidentally, the polls are still open so be sure to keep the votes coming in by clicking on this link, People’s Choice Award.  If per chance my photos don’t show up, just type Zeller (that’s me) in the search window.  Just click the green arrow next to the photo that you like best.

Pyrhuloxia

  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens
  • 1/2000 sec @ f6.3
  • ISO 1250
  • Lens focal distance  365mm
  • Shutter priority
  • Partial metering
      
Bullock’s Oriole
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter – hand-held
  • 1/2500 sec @ 6.3
  • ISO 2000
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Shutter priority
  • Partial metering

These photos were taken at San Angelo State Park, here in San Angelo, Texas.  You can click on either of them to see an enlargement.  Don’t forget me, ‘cuz I’ll be back in a few days.