Puffins on Vigur Island

Puffins are camera shy, as they flee when they see you coming — unlike many seabirds that I’m accustomed to in Florida. As soon as I spotted one, tried to creep a bit closer, framed the shot and focused — off it went. Most of my photos that afternoon on Vigur Island were shot a second too late. Charlie and I were a persistent team; he was holding high sticks to ward off the Arctic Terns who are apt to attack your head. He was watching the long grass in the hillside for puffin nests where the puffins briefly land to feed their chicks, and acting as my spotter.

“Over there,” Charlie whispered to me, pointing. I crept closer with camera poised, hoping to focus and shoot before the puffins took flight.

#puffins, #puffin, #vigur, #windstar, #birds, #wildlife, #seabirds, #arctic, #iceland
One, two, three, jump! Puffins take flight as humans approach.

I kept my shutter speed high and my lens wide open, trying to freeze action on a flying puffin at the very least. I was working hard to get a good puffin shot before leaving Iceland. Having seen puffin photos in all the shops, I knew how cute the little birds are!

#puffin, #inflight, #flying, #bird, #nature #wildlife, #iceland, #vigur
Puffin flies back to sea for more fish to feed the chicks hidden in the hillside.

At last our teamwork paid off, and I captured this image of a puffin with a beak full of fresh fish for the chicks. The Nikon D800 with 70-200 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter gave me a sharp image even though we were about 10 meters away.

#nikond800, #puffin, #iceland, #vigur, #bird, #wildlife, #nature, #vigurisland
Best Iceland souvenir: my own close-up of a Puffin in the act of fishing for the young.

 

Hydrangea Twins

Just outside my back door, I found fraternal twins on my hydrangea bush: a pink and a blue blossom on the same plant. All the rain in the past few weeks are helping the blossoms last. Stay away, hungry deer!

#hydrangea, #july, #pinkandblue, #favoriteflower, #nature, #flowers, #nikon, #sewickley, #pennsylvania
Fresh pink and blue blossoms on my hydrangea bush. Shot with Nikon D800, at 1/500 second, f 2.8 and ISO 100. Shallow depth of field gives the photo an intimate feeling.

The hydrangea may be my favorite flower, thanks to associations with my daughter’s  June wedding as well as memories of seeing them on Cape Cod.

Finding Africa close to home

Some homework assignments are more fun than others. Learning to use my new 600 mm lens called for a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo. I have wanted to “get closer” to wildlife in Florida while photographing birds and alligators. And I definitely want to be ready for puffins I will see in Iceland in July. I know I will get the best results from practice.

Mounted on a sturdy monopod and attached to my Nikon D800, my new lens focused on the African lion and tiger today, and brought home these images for you.

#pittsbughzoo, #zoo, #tiger, #wildlife. #lens, #600mmlens, #nikond800
This images shows the tiger’s markings.
#lion, #zoo, #Pittsburghzoo, #600mmlens, #nikond800, #nature, #wildlife
Sleeping male lion. Peaceful.

Pennsylvania cherry blossoms

Americans associate cherry blossoms with the iconic Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., but they are harbingers of Spring in western Pennsylvania too. On this cherry tree in Edgeworth, white and magenta flowers bloom side by side.

#cherryblossoms, #pennsylvania, #spring, #easter, #selectivefocus, #nikon
White and magenta cherry blossoms herald Spring in western Pennsylvania.

Focus on the Eye

Standard advice when shooting wildlife: focus on the eye.  Not always possible, such as when the subject is moving, and the photographer is panning. On this day in the Florida Everglades, I had enough time to focus on the great blue heron’s eye while hand holding my Nikon D800 with a 200mm lens.

#blueheron, #greatblueheron, #heron, #bird, #profile, #wildlife, #nature, #florida, #everglades. #sharakvalley, #nikon, #nikond800, #eye
In this close up of the Great Blue Heron, you can admire the delicate feathers of the neck, the plume, the eye and the well worn beak.

Good night, Pelican

If this sounds like a good title of a children’s book, you think like I do. I would like to write a sequel to “Goodnight Moon,” and use my photos of pelicans getting ready to say “good night.”

#pelicans, #landing, #rookery, #sunset, #naples, #florida, #birds, #dusk, #nature, #wildlife
Pelicans get comfortable on a rookery island, safe from prey land based prey, as the sun sets.

This close up photograph shows a pelican landing to join many others settling in for the night on a rookery island near Naples, Florida. They can rest and refresh themselves here, safe from raccoons and other land-based prey. This image was taken just minutes before sunset.