Digital Hunter

Posts filed under Digital Hunter

Squat and active

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 4 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

One bird in particular didn't seem to be so shy. He flew around, sometimes very close to me, going about his business, pecking on the tree trunks, pecking through the scrub and generally being a happy bird. I've also seen him or one of his kindred near our home.

His motions are very quick. He almost never stays anywhere for more than a second. He's a rather squat little bird and his beak is remarkably straight.

What kind of bird is he?

squat and active

Common Tailorbird 長尾縫葉鶯

(Orthotomus sutorius)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Hunting together

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 3 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

While sitting up on that tree trunk twelve feet up in the air, there was one pair of birds that I saw more often than any other. They were mates and they were hunting together. They were later on joined by another pair of the same variety.

Forty years old and I've only now realised how marvelous it is to watch birds hunt. They sit on the branches looking in every direction, and when they see a flying insect, they flutter up, catch the insect and flutter back. The action is very quick and very absorbing; and extremely hard to photograph. Tracking them with your camera, keeping everything in focus and pressing the shutter button at the right time is almost impossible to do but I'll hopefully get there one day with more training and practice. In the meantime, you'll have to be content with my non-flying photographs.

What are they? Does anyone know?

Mates

Chinese Bulbul 白頭鵯

(Pycnonotus sinensis)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

What are you looking at? Can't you see we're busy?

Two birds, probably mates, hunting together. I believe you'll find that the females have a different flatter head crest than the males. In this picture, the female is probably the one on the left with the male on the right.

For a blow-up of the female, click here.

For a blow-up of the male, click here.

More photos of the male (my guess from the head crest and the colour).

crested

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

crested2

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Red and green!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 2 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

Another one of the birds I photographed on January 25, this bird was only there for a few seconds. One second he was there. The next, he was gone. I've seen him before though so I'll probably see him again. Hopefully, there will be opportunities to get better pictures of him.

Does anybody know his name?

red and green

Fork-tailed Sunbird 叉尾太陽鳥

(Aethopyga christinae)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer version, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Red and green!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

喺上海開工。啱啱食咗生煎包。非常好食,又平。4隻只要¥8

Instagram image

Yellow!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 1 of 4.)

One of the birds I was able to photograph yesterday was a medium size bird with a black back and a bright yellow belly. I was very surprised to see such a colourful bird in my neighbourhood, albeit inside the bush.

The focus is not perfect but it's a nice shot anyway. If anyone knows what kind of bird he is, please tell me. I'd like to gradually build a library of Hong Kong bird photographs and knowing the names of the birds would be very meaningful.

(The doubling effect of the out-of-focus objects such as the branches is probably caused by the 2x extender that I use. I conjecture that an original 400mm lens without the extender wouldn't produce this effect or what I consider to be an aberration.)

Yellow! again.

Grey-chinned Minivet (female) 灰喉山椒鳥(雌性)

(Pericrocotus solaris)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer version, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Canon EOS 350D comments: Shutter speed

Filed in Digital HunterTags: , , , ,

Imagine a guy with bare feet walking as quietly as possible through the underbrush of some bushy area, stealthily walking over to a fallen dead tree and then climbing up that tree to wait.

I've seen the tree before. It's a very large tree that was apparently pushed so hard by the wind that its trunk broke several feet off the ground allowing the wind to push the whole tree to the ground. It's been dead for quite some time now and it's a boon for me because it's produced an empty space in the middle of the bush, and a platform from which I can sit and watch the birds fly around.

The tree is now horizontal so it's easy to walk up but I still need to be careful climbing it because you never know when the white ants will have eaten enough of the tree; nature's recycling system; to weaken it, eventually allowing it to break under my weight. So far though, the tree doesn't budge when I walk on it so it's very safe for the time being.

I sat and stood on the tree trunk, some twelve feet off the ground, just watching and waiting for two or three hours, relaxing in the warm winter sun and admiring the blue skies that have become so rare now here in Hong Kong. I knew the birds frequented this place so it was just a matter of waiting with camera in hand. I was sure to get something.

Eventually, the birds did come and I was able to get a few reasonable photographs. I say reasonable because I'm finding it hard to get good photographs with my Canon EOS 350D camera. Under normal circumstances photographing normal things, the camera's definitely ok, but when I'm trying to get close to objects or when the available light begins to drop even just a little, the camera becomes a hindrance and I'm left questioning my age, eyes and skill.

The problem is light. Unless the sunlight is in full force, I need to set the camera to ASA200 for most of my shots to get a reasonable shutter speed. Even then, I find myself shooting many of my shots at just 1/30th of a second. For many shots, that's ok but for moving objects, it's too slow. I think the camera suffers from two problems: the sensor is small at only 22mm instead of the traditional full frame 35mm, and the sensors are not as sensitive as similar rated film; i.e., EOS 350D' ASA200 == film ASA100. One day soon, I'm going to try taking similar shots with both of my cameras and see if the EOS 5 does in fact make better shots easier to get.

At ASA200 on the digital camera, the photographs are not fine. This becomes more obvious when you blow up the pictures to full size and the details are not sharp. In addition, darker parts of the photographs are grainy and weak.

When taking pictures of birds, the problems become accentuated. Because I'm using the equivalent of a 224-640mm lens (70-200, x2 for the extender, x1.6 for the 22mm sensor), camera shake becomes a real problem. Even minute movements will cause the picture to blur. Add to that the speed of the birds' movements and it becomes evident that slower apperture speeds are out of the question. My testing so far indicates that I need at least 1/125s to avoid camera shake, and at least 1/160s to avoid blurring due to a combination of camera shake and bird movement.

At ASA200, this is only just possible for the lighting available to me at present but there's another problem. More often than not, the only way to get 1/160s shutter speeds is to use the maximum aperture value on my extended zoom lens; f5.6. For close-ups at 640mm with an aperture of f5.6, the depth of field can be extremely short, as short as just a few millimetres, so getting perfectly focused photographs is very difficult. I also prefer to get more in focus than just the bird's eyes so it's a blessing when the light allows aperture values of 10 or more.

Until yesterday, I was using Aperture-Priority programming to shoot bird photographs, usually setting the aperture to f5.6 but also shifting to f6.3 or f7.1 or even f8.0 when lighting allowed. Yesterday, it finally occurred me; remember that I'm an amateur photographer so please don't laugh; to use Shutter-Priority programming. With the ASA to 200, I set the shutter speed to 1/160s and let the camera do the rest. This way, I would automatically get greater depths of field when possible without any effort on my part. If I was shooting areas which were too dark for 1/160s at f5.6, it wouldn't matter because the result would be a darker picture similar to what was being photographed.

I am pretty happy with the photographs I took yesterday but after reviewing them, I have decided that 1/200s is probably a better choice than 1/160s. I'm also determined to try using the EOS 5 film camera soon to see if I can get better colour and grain than when using the 350D digital camera.

I have much more to say about the EOS 350D camera but I'll leave it for another post.

Married and beautiful

Filed in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , , ,

I'm always trying to get good photos of some of the birds around our home. I'd love to get a photo of the owls that live here but I've only seen one of them once in the two years we've lived here, and I've only heard them; a pair of them calling out to each other; once on another night.

Apart from sparrows, there are only a few species of birds living here. There are pigeons which are difficult to photograph because they're so easily unnerved by onlookers, and there is another species of bird, one with red behind its eye and more red under its tail. I find them especially attractive and try to photograph them whenever possible. Both the pigeons and these 'red' birds live in pairs, always with the same mate.

Hong Kong also has a very healthy population of kites (a predatory bird, similar to eagles) and I really hope to get good photographs of these birds in the future no matter how difficult it might be. Luck and timing will be a big part of my success.

For those of you not familiar with birds, the male can usually be identified by its colours. The male's colours are often brighter and stronger than the female's colours.

Married birds

Red-whiskered Bulbul 紅耳鵯

(Pycnonotus jocosus)

Date: 4 December 2005, Location: Clear Water Bay

Some birds mate for life. In this case, the male is the one looking at us from behind.

For a closer look at the pair, click here.

I hope you like the photograph. More will follow next year, especially now that I've added a 2x extender to my lens collection allowing me to get closer to the birds. I have become the proverbial hunter.

While searching for Canon links for this article, I came across references to the first cameras I ever owned. The Canon AE-1 was the first camera I remember owning, and was probably one of the best cameras I've ever used. The Canon EOS 620 was my second camera, purchased after my arrival in Hong Kong, sometime between 1988 and 1989. My EF 70-200mm F2.8L USM lens was purchased soon after and still works flawlessly today 16 years later.

It’s official. Hong Kong’s a part of China.

Filed in Hong Kong, Photo of the Day

While driving on the expressway to Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣 to make some arrangements for my trip to Indonesia next week, I couldn't help but notice that the sky was very unattractive. It looked pretty much like the skies you'd see in big China cities like Guangzhou 廣州. I really wanted to stop on the expressway and take a few photos but the policemen wouldn't have liked that.

Later on, on my way home, I couldn't resist the urge to try to get a few photographs. I surmised that the North Point ferry pier 北角碼頭 might allow me to get far enough out into the harbour to be able to see Central 中環 around the expressway. I was wrong but the view wasn't too bad anyway and I came away with a few reasonable shots. Since I published 'blue-sky' shots yesterday, I thought I'd share these with you asap so that you can see the contrast.

Orange Tsimshatsui

The business district of Tsimshatsui 尖沙咀 never looked so bleak.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

During my eighteen years here in Hong Kong, I have observed the skies becoming more and more polluted. I remember in the early years that we lived out in Tai Po 大埔, driving in to work in the mornings, I used to be able to see Lion Rock Mountain 獅子山 very clearly. In the latter years, Lion Rock Mountain was simply not visible at all. The same thing is now happening all over Hong Kong and I fear that blue skies will become a true rarity.

Orange harbour

That's Hung Hom 紅磡 district on the left and Kowloon City 九龍城 on the right with multiple cranes working hard on top of a new development at the Kowloon City Pier 九龍城碼頭.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

I guess Hong Kong is now officially a part of China.