One year ends, another begins……


Well, here it is the 29th of December and another year of blogging is about to come to a close.  I had threatened to stop with my final post of the year, but because of much encouragement from friend and readers, I will continue on.  This will be my 940th post, so maybe I can make it to 1,000 in 2017, and I will re-evaluate again when that time comes.

I must boast a bit about my success with this blog which is now in it’s 7th year.  Of the top 1,000 birding blogs on the web, I am number 190 as of this date.  I have had 209,856 hits by 46,707 viewers.  Of those, 2,318 have actually subscribed, where they will get an e-mail notification when I publish a post.  You can be a subscriber by clicking on ‘sign me up’.

But enough about me.  Let’s mention you, my loyal readers, that keep me encouraged by your likes and comments.  I love comments.  Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts and feelings.

I can’t write a post with including a few photographs, which, I believe have improved greatly over history of this blog.  Of course that probably comes from practice, improved equipment and techniques.  Her are a few that I captured since Christmas day.

My favorite of this bunch is this Common Yellowthroat.  A very tiny, shy and elusive bird.  In my previous post, I had mentioned that Ann and I were getting up early to search for birds.  I can admit now that looking for the yellowthroat was our real reason.  Our persistence and patience paid off.  We parked every morning near a wet, reedy area, and watched and waited.  On the day after Christmas, he decided to gift us with a two minute viewing, early, right after sun-up.  Click on this and the following photos to see beautiful enlargements.

Common Yellowthroat - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 5000.

Common Yellowthroat – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 5000.

In the same area, this marsh wren was scurrying around.  I captured him a bit earlier than the yellowthroat, so the light was a bit darker.  That resulted in a high ISO number of 6400.  I used some software to decrease the color noise so the image is not great quality.  But I like the composition so here it is for your critique.

Marsh Wren - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Marsh Wren – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Across the water, this Black-crowned Night Heron looks like he is watching for a bus to come along.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3, ISO 2500.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3, ISO 2500.

I can’t resist trying to get photos of any Ruby-crowned Kinglet that I come across.  This one at Spring Creek Park.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3. +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3. +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Near the entrance to Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, we spotted this Belted Kingfisher in a tree overlooking the water.  There were several twigs, etc, blocking him, but the spot focusing on my Canon 7D Mark II came through.

Belted Kingfisher - 1/1000 sec. @ f11, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Belted Kingfisher – 1/1000 sec. @ f11, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Another image of the always popular Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal. 1/500 sec. @f f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Northern Cardinal. 1/500 sec. @f f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

As you have probably noticed, I love trying to photograph the tiny birds.  This one an Orange-crowned Warbler, scratching in the grass and weeds.

Orange-crowned Warbler - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Orange-crowned Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Out at San Angelo State Park, we got lucky and saw two raptors.  The first is a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk, that co-operated and posed for this nice image.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 160.

My last photo before heading home, turned out to be one of my best images of a Merlin.  It wasn’t easy, and I almost deleted it when I saw the original in the computer.  Have a look:

Original merlin photo

Original merlin photo

He was about 300 yards away, and he looked tiny in the viewfinder.  With the naked eye it looked impossible to get a photo.  Fortunately, with my camera sitting solidly on my window sill, I was able to get that lone single focus dot on the breast of the bird.  I got home and loaded it into my computer.  First, I lightened it up.  I was surprised that the image was very usable.  This is what I came up with after really tight cropping, sharpening it up a bit, and adding some contrast.  Not bad, if I do say so myself. 🙂

 

Merlin - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Merlin – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Okay, that’s it for this, my final post of 2016.  I want to wish each and every one of you a fantastic Happy New Year of birding and shooting.

 

A Merry Birdie Christmas to all.


I want to wish all of my readers in 163 countries, the Merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I can’t say it in all of your languages, but I suspect that if you can read this you might be able to translate.  I hope you will forgive me for not being multi-lingual.  For your enjoyment I have put together my best images of the past few days.  I have gotten Ann out of bed early every morning the past week, to help me spot new bird photo opportunities for this occasion.  And if you believe that, I have some nice West Texas ocean front property I might get you interested in.  Actually, we get out of bed early EVERY morning, regardless of the occasion.  So……the fun begins.  Why does a red bird always look good in a Christmasy greeting?  How about this one?

This Northern Cardinal was captured early in the morning at Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo, Texas.  The low light produced a large ISO number of 5000, but with my Topaz DeNoise software, you barely notice that there was a large amout of noise.  Click on this image, and all others, to see exceptional enlargement.  All of my photos in this post was were captured using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.

Northern Cardinal. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 5000.

Northern Cardinal. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 5000.

Well, this post is off to a fun start, don’t you think.  Okay, let me pick out another.  Gosh, this is fun!!  American Robins are usually considered harbingers of spring.  Well, I saw this one huddled in the cold early one recent morning in December.  Actually, they are here the year around.

American Robin. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1600.

American Robin. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1600.

There is a spot, on a curve on Red Bluff road that overlooks a large area of wetland.  One particular tree is a popular perch for Osprey, and sometimes, various herons.  I love to check this spot everytime I head for Middle Concho park.  If you were to check my files, you would see many images taken at this same tree.  I’m sorry, I can’t help it.

Osprey. 1/1000 sec. @f f7.1, ISO 800.

Osprey. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 800.

I also can’t pass up a chance to photo one of my favorite raptors, the Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Red-tailed Hawk. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

A Song Sparrow sings in the reeds at Spring Creek Park.

Song Sparrow. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7, ISO 800

Song Sparrow. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7, ISO 800

A Black-crowned Heron watching for a meal………

Black-crowned Night Heron. 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 250.

Black-crowned Night Heron. 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 250.

……..While over his head a Belted-Kingfisher also watches for a meal.  Everybody is hungry.

Belted Kingfisher. 1/1260 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 400.

Belted Kingfisher. 1/1260 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 400.

I love these feisty, little hawks.  The American Kestrel is very difficult to photograph as they are constantly on the move.

American Kestrel. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1.0 EV, ISO 800.

American Kestrel. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1.0 EV, ISO 800.

The Great Kiskadee is very rare around San Angelo and the Concho Valley.  But, for some unknown reason, during the fall migration, as many as four of them decided to stay.  They arrived in late September and are still here the day before Christmas.  Again, they keep their distance and are difficult to photograph.  This image is from about two hundred across the water at Spring Creek Park.

Great Kiskadee. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800

Great Kiskadee. 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 800

Sometime, I have to photograph in very low light to get the captures I want, such as this Orange-crowned Warbler.  The difficulty lies in the high ISO numbers that it produces.  High ISOs mean a large amount of noise.

Orange-crowned Warbler. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Orange-crowned Warbler. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

This Black-crowned Night Heron, was more co-operative.  I was able to get within about 30 feet.  Again, overcast sky produced a higher ISO number.

Black-crowned Night Heron. 1/500 sec. @ 6.3, ISO 3200.

Black-crowned Night Heron. 1/500 sec. @ 6.3, ISO 3200.

This American Robin was photographed just after sunrise.

American Robin. 1/800 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 500.

American Robin. 1/800 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 500.

I saved this Blue Jay for last.  For years it had been my nemesis as I could never get a decent photo of one.  Well, a few days ago, at Spring Creek Park, this one landed on an open branch in a beautiful pose.  Overcast skies reduced the light, and along with that, a high ISO image.  But with the software I mentioned earlier it cleaned up nicely and I think this my best photo of a Blue Jay ever.

Blue Jay. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 6400.

Blue Jay. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 6400.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this holiday post.  Ann and I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Click on any image to see nice enlargements.  Comments are welcome.  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…..


Holy Cow!  20° as I begin to write this.  If you can believe this, but at 2:00 yesterday afternoon it was 78°.  By 6:00 it was 30°.  A rip roaring cold front blasted it’s way in.  A good excuse to stay in today and write a post to this blog.  Lot’s of catching up to do.

We have been getting out most every morning lately.  The birding is really improving.  A good sign of that was that a few days ago, Ann and I counted 40 species……..all at Spring Creek Park.   Believe it or not, the Great Kiskadees are still here, or at least until yesterday.  I don’t know if they decided to head south again after last night.  I will keep you updated on that.  Here is my last photo of one that I captured about three days ago.  We were driving through Spring Creek Park and Ann said she heard one calling.  I thought that she was having effects from a glass of wine she drank the previous evening.  She said, “No, it sounds like this”.  She had her iPad turned on and she played the bird’s call.  The bird apparently heard that and answered her.  It flew into a tree right overhead.  I was able to capture the photo before it flew away over the water.

Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

In other news, as I mentioned in my last post, I am up uploading photos for purchase.  You can buy framed prints, or home decor with my photo art.  It makes it easier for you that have wanted to purchase my art.  Click here – http://pixels.com/artists/1+bob+zeller

For un-framed prints, my 2017 Calendars, or my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes” contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

Okay, I am done self-promoting.  (hey, someone’s gotta do it 🙂 ).  Now onto my images that I have captured for you the past week or so.  All were taken with my Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600mm Gen2 lens.  Please click on any image to see some beautiful enlargements.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1250.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. 1/1000 sec @ f6.3, ISO 5000.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. 1/1000 sec @ f6.3, -0.3 EV,  ISO 5000.

Black-crowned Night Heron, juvenile. 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Black-crowned Night Heron, juvenile. 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

American Kestrel. 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3 +0.7EV, ISO 2500.

American Kestrel. 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

Belted Kingfisher. 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3EV, ISO 2500.

Belted Kingfisher. 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3  EV, ISO 2500.

Savannah Sparrow. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 320.

Savannah Sparrow. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 320.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 500

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 500.

Hermit Thrush. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1600

Hermit Thrush. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 1600

White-faced Ibis. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 1250.

White-faced Ibis. 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 1250.

Great Egret. 1/1600 sec. @ f10, -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Great Egret. 1/1600 sec. @ f10, -0.3 EV, ISO 100.

Well, that’s it for this post.  Stay warm.  Merry Christmas and Happy Birding!!!

Do your Christmas Shopping with me.


Since Christmas is upon us, I thought I would give you some ideas to think about.  As you know all of my work is for sale.  So with two weeks to go, I think there is still time to partake of some of my bargains.

First, in conjunction with Pixels.com, I am offering a selection of my photos available on greeting cards, coffee mugs, and some home decor.  Check me out at http://pixels.com/artists/1+bob+zeller.

My hard cover book, “Birds, Beasts, and Buttes” is still available from me.  Featuring about 100 of my best photographs.  Original price 65.00, now with a Christmas price of 40.00 plus 10.00 shipping.  No shipping cost needed if you are in San Angelo and I can deliver it.  Contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

My DVD, “Bob Zeller’s World of Outdoor Photographs”.  Another 100 photographs accompanied with great music.  Running time about 17 minutes.  25.00 including shipping.  20.00 for San Angelo residents if I don’t need to ship.  Again, contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

I hope you will consider some of these.  The profits help pay for my equipment and expenses.

Okay, if you are still with me after me trying to get into your wallet, here are a few photos from the past few days.  Most of those days were pretty overcast, but today the sun is shining, so things are looking up.  By the way, I am still field-testing my new Tamron 150-600mm Gen2 lens.  I think you will agree that it is a fantastic lens and I should keep it.  Enjoy these images, and click on any of them to see enlargements,.

Great Egret - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1600.

Great Egret – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 1600.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2000

Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 2000

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec. @ 6.3, ISO 6400

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec. @  f6.3, ISO 6400

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 6400

Dark-eyed Junco - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +.03 EV, ISO 6400

Dark-eyed Junco – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +.03 EV, ISO 6400

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV ISO 3200

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV ISO 3200

American Kestrel - 1250 sec. @ f6.3, _0,7 EV ISO 2500.

American Kestrel – 1250 sec. @ f6.3, _0,7 EV ISO 2500.

That’s it for this post.  I will be back in about a week or so with another.  Until then……

HAPPY BIRDING!!

 

Testing the new Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DI VC USD G2 lens.


I had heard much about how Tamron had improved the new generation two of their 150-600mm lens.  I had owned the original version since it came out a couple of years ago.  I decided to make the upgrade, so I opened the box with much anticipation.  It appeared to be visually pretty much like the old one.  But on closer inspection, I saw that the tripod ring is removable.  Also, the zoom lens can be locked any position’

I took it out into the field to see how it performed.  Wow!!  First the auto-focus  seems to be much faster and the improved VC, Tamron’s version of image stabilization is advertised to be about four and half stops better without it.  What impressed me most is the improved resolution and sharpness.  The top photo is the original of a House Sparrow straight from the camera with no post processing at all, except for me adding my copyright.  I had the lens attached to my Canon 7D Mark II.  No tripod was used, but I had the camera resting on a bean-bag on the sill of my Ford Escape.  The same set-up was used for all of the images in this post.

House Sparrrow - original and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – original and un-retouched.  1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

This is the same image, cropped about 50-60%.  No post processing at all.  I can not see any loss of sharpness or resolution.

House Sparrow - cropped and un-retouched.

Chipping Sparrow, female – cropped and un-retouched.

Here is another.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Cropped, but no other post-processing.  Notice the high ISO of 5000.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

So, as you can understand, I am as happy as a gopher in soft dirt.  I was very happy with first version and I had used it for two years.  But it was rare for me to be able to crop a photo and not have to do some post-processing.  One more thing before I forget, the lens was extended all the way to 600mm.  No loss of resolution, but that was true of the original version of this lens.  For my bird photography, I am zoomed to the full 600mm most of the time.

Here are several more images from the past week or so, many of them on very overcast and damp days.  And before you ask, yes, most of them have been post-processed.  I can’t get lucky all the time.

Eastern Phoebe - 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Eastern Phoebe – 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Here was a real challenge.  In the brush at Spring Creek Park, early in the morning.  We could barely see this Hermit Thrush.  The new lens managed to focus in the low light.  Here is the original.

Hermit Thrush - original - 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Hermit Thrush – original – 1/800 sec, @ f6.3, + 1.0 EV, ISO 6400

Here is the the cropped and processed image.  I used Topaz DeNoise to remove any noise from using the high ISO of 6400.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing. Noise from the high ISO was removed using DeNoise.

Hermit Thrush after post-processing.

This handsome devil was perched atop a telephone, about 200 yards away.  He was probably digesting his breakfast that he got at the local Carrion CarryOut.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320.

Another high ISO image, this American Gold finch gave me a fit, trying to get him in focus back in the deep brush, as he continually moved around.

American Goldfinch - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

American Goldfinch – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 5000.

This Northern Cardinal brightened the morning.

Northern Cardinal - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

Northern Cardinal – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 640.

This juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was trying to stay hidden, without sucess, in the twigs.

White-crowned Sparrow - 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile – 1/1600 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

Ya gotta love the Vermilion Flycatchers.  They are little cuties.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Vermilion Flycatcher, female. 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

One of the most difficult raptors to photograph is the American Kestrel.  Very elusive, always on the move and hard to get close to.  This image from about 120 yards.

American Kestrel - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

American Kestrel – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160.

After using this lens for about a week now, I am thoroughly happy with it.  I can’t wait to get out and shoot some more photos.  I hope you enjoyed these images.  Please click on any photo to see some very nice enlargements.

Until the next post, Happy Birding and Happy Shooting.

Comments are appreciated.