My Review of Puffin Pad, Light Weight Camera Rest, an Alternative to the Beanbag


Originally submitted at Adorama

Puffin Pad, Light Weight Camera Rest, an Alternative to the Beanbag

An excellent buy

By Bob Z. from San Angelo, TX on 9/14/2011
5out of 5

Pros: Good Stability, Folds Small, Lightweight, Unfolds Quickly

Best Uses: Wildlife, Sports/Action, Landscape/Scenery, Travel

Describe Yourself: Semi-pro Photographer

Was this a gift?: No

I do a lot of bird photography and I find this to be the perfect aid for photographing from my car. I use a 500mm super-tele and it is just like using my tripod. I have also used it on the hood of my car, on picnic tables, and fence posts.  I strongly recommend it.

(legalese)

Here’s that Greater Roadrunner again


Saturday morning was the monthly bird-walk/drive-around at San Angelo State Park.  It was my final one to lead it.  The weather was very nice for a change.  In the 90s and a great respite from the 100+ days that we had been having.  So far we didn’t see anything that looked like part of the fall migration, but we were surprised to see that there was some water in O. C. Fisher reservoir again.  Not much, but probably several hundred acres of water about one foot deep.  Some Great Blue Herons were on hand, plus several other shorebirds.  We managed to identify some American Avocets, but others were too far away to make positive IDs.

During our little drive-around we spotted this Greater Roadrunner scurrying through the tall dead grass.  I pulled to the side of the road and captured it with my trusty Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  After some minor editing and cropping it printed out to a nice 12×16 that I may frame for my gallery at Crockett National Bank.

Greater Roadrunner

  • Photographed September 10, 2011 at San Angelo, Texas
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1000 sec. @ f14 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance – 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

After returning home, later that afternoon this dove flew into our yard and sat on our fence.  We had seen it around the neighborhood, and now it has taken a liking to our new bubbling fountain and bird feeders.  I personally believe it to be a “mis-colored” Eurasian Collared Dove.  You can make out the half-collar on it’s neck.  The odd colorization might be from some genetic deformation.  Any thoughts from my bird experts??

Collard Dove???

  • Photographed September 10, 2011 at San Angelo, Texas
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1000 sec. @f10 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance 400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

In memoriam – September 11, 2001


Our distinct memory of that day.  Ann and I had just turned on the television minutes after the first plane struck the first tower.  We sat, held each other, and cried as we watched the second tower get hit, then the eventual collapse of both towers.  We will never forget.

This post is in memory of the thousands that we saw die that morning.

R.I.P.

Pictures from Middle Concho Park


On Thursday morning Ann and I made a journey to Middle Concho Park.  With cooler temperatures we thought we could enjoy the drive through there.  We saw a few bird species that we hadn’t seen in several weeks.  Notably were some Vermilion Flycatchers, both adult male and some juveniles.  Also one Eastern Bluebird, an Eastern Phoebe, finches and herons.

"Welcome to my pad".

  • First year Green heron
  • Photographed  September 8, 2011
  • Canon EOS 7d
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1250 sec. @ f8 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance  400mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Shutter priority

Male Vermilion Flycatcher

  • Male Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Photographed  September 8, 2011
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment
  • ISO 100
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Enjoy.  Click on either image to see an enlargement.

Rock Pigeon (Dove): Hunting Season


Fifth and final in the series about the dove species of west Texas.  Rock Pigeon (Columba livia).  Formerly was named the Rock Dove.  Many people still refer them to as doves.  Stokes Field Guide to North American Birds describes them as heavy-bodied, broad-shouldered, short-tailed pigeons with relatively short necks and short stubby bills.  Dark gray head, irridescent necks, pale gray back.  Two dark wingbars show on lower back.

National Audubon Society‘s Sibley’s guide to Birds still refer to it as the Rock Dove or (Feral Pigeon).   The third or bottom photo below shows the rare Brown adult.

Rock Pigeon

  • Photographed  November 5, 2007
  • Canon EOS 20D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/250 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – average
  • Aperture priority

Rock Pigeon

  • Photographed July 5, 2008
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f7.1 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal distance – 390mm
  • Metering – center weighted average
  • Aperture priority

Rock Pigeon (rare brown adult)

  • Photographed  July 3, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens
  • 1.640 sec. @ f13 – ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance – 500mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture  priority

Eurasian Collared-Dove: Hunting Season


Fourth in a series about dove species in west Texas. Eurasian Collared-Dove. (Streptopelia decaocto).   Common in San Angelo area but not in great numbers.  In fact, upon investigation this the only usable image that I have in my files.  The largest of the local dove species, it is pale tan in color with a black half-collar.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

  • Photographed  March 11, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 5/100 sec. @ f8 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 365mm
  • Metering – spot
  • Aperture priority

Click image to see an enlargement.

Inca Dove: Hunting Season


Third in a series about the dove species that can be found in west Texas.  Inca Dove. Colombina inca).  Smallest of the doves found locally.  Very secretive little bird.  Small, deep-bellied, long-tailed dove with a short neck, small head, and short bill.  Pale gray to sandy colored overall.  All feathers brown-tipped to give a scaled look.  To me, this bird is the cutest of the species.

Inca Dove

  • Photographed August 14, 2007
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 -tele-converter
  • 1/800 sec. @ f5.6 – ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – pattern
  • Aperture priority

Inca Dove

  • Photographed  January 12, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f9 –  plus 1/3 EV adjustment – ISO 250
  • Lens focal distance – 250mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

Inca Dove

  • Photographed  April 6, 2008
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/800 sec. @ f5.6 – ISO 800
  • Lens focal distance – 700mm
  • Metering – pattern
  • Aperture priority

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Mourning Doves: Hunting Season


The second in my series about the various dove species in west Texas.  Today is about Mourning Doves. (Zenaida macroura).   Slightly larger than the White-winged Dove, it is grayish-brown in color, with dark spots on the wings towards the tail.  There is a pale blue orbital ring arount the eye.  It is a slender bird, with long, pointed tail.  Fairly narrow body, with pointed wings held close while flapping.

Mourning Doves

  • Photograph taken   May 18, 2007
  • Canon EOS 20D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f9 – ISO 200
  • Lens focal length – 400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

Mourning Dove

  • Photograph taken  December 28, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3 – minus 1/3 EV adjustment – ISO 1600
  • Lens focal length – 400mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Click on either image to see an enlarged image.

White-winged Doves: Hunting Season


Since the dove hunting season has begun here in west Texas, this would be a good time to bring you up to date on the different species that you can find here.  I will do a post each day covering all the different ones.

First up:  White-winged Dove. (Zenaida asiatica).  Medium sized, but larger than the Mourning Dove, it has a short square tail and broad wings.  It is an unmarked pale brown overall color with broad white streaks along the edges of the folded wings.  A bluish hue surrounds the orange eyes.  It sports a long thin bill, slightly down-curved.

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on September 10, 2010
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f8  ISO  640
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Aperture priority

White-winged Dove

  • Photographed on June 7, 2009
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon 100-400mm zoom lens
  • 1/400 sec. @ f6.3 – ISO 400
  • Lens focal length – 340mm
  • Metering – center weighted
  • Aperture priority

Click on either image to see an enlargement.  Enjoy.

Happy Labor Day Week-end


Here it is Sunday morning, September 4, 2011.  That means that tomorrow is the first Monday of September and therefore it will be Labor Day.  The annual holiday that separates the warm days of summer and the beginning of the cooler fall days.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way, but thankfully, that is the way it is this year in west Texas, particularly here in San Angelo.  After a very scorching summer, June, July, August, with a record 93 days of 100+ degree days.  The old record was 60 days set back in 1969.  We also set a record with 36 days of 105+ degree days.  Again the old record was 14 days set back in 1969.  This was the hottest summer since record keeping began back in 1907, 104 years ago.

But as I said, the recent tropical storms in the gulf have helped lower our temperatures here and tomorrow is supposed to be a balmy 89 degrees.  Tomorrow morning I think I can get back out and try to do something about bringing my yard back to looking normal.

The fall migration should also be starting in a few days, and I am hoping that there will be enough feed left for the birds to make their annual stopovers, before heading further south.  I have my cameras cleaned and my camera bag gadgets sorted.  I’m ready to get back to trying to capture the beauty of wildlife on the wing and on the ground.

I am glad that I got into photography so many years ago.  After my years of being a professional saxophonist, I had to have another outlet for my creativity.  I wasn’t interested in painting.  Heck, I tried finger-painting, but it took me three weeks to do the kitchen.  So I am happy with photography, and I have found that a person can be just as creative with a camera, as one can with a brush, (or fingers). 🙂

So I am just sitting here pondering the next few months.  In the immediate future, starting tomorrow I will do a series of posts about the doves here in the Concho River Valley.  The dove hunting season started a few days ago so I thought it would be an apt time to do so.

After that, maybe we can work in a trip to the Big Bend country again in a few weeks.  I guess that is where my heart is.  It seems to draw me back each year for at least one visit.  There I might just find some photographic opportunities for some future blog items.  We can hope so.

So have a fun but safe holiday weekend.