Panhandle Summers

Summer begins tomorrow and I’m not all that thrilled.  Panhandle summers are, as a rule, hot, dry, and windy, characteristics that I don’t particularly enjoy.  Dry and hot are the more tolerable of the three, although I’ve developed an aversion to sweating over the years, but windy really annoys me.  Dust and grit in your nose and eyes and ears, dirty brown haze on the horizon, wind howling in your ears; it’s enough to make anyone a bit peevish, especially someone as easily peeved as I’m known to be.  Worst of all is trying to drive in it.

Today was no exception to the rule.  It’s about 37°C this afternoon, humidity is less than 30% (actually fairly humid,  we are more used to percentages in the teens,) and the wind is steady at 48 kph with occasionally higher gusts. The wind was so bad Saturday that it broke two large branches (nearly half the tree) off of my Mulberry and Sheila and I spent the last 2 hot, dry, windy days cleaning up and hauling off the mess.

I haven’t done much birding or photography in this weather.  I was out for about 90 minutes yesterday morning and again this morning, and got a few good shots, but didn’t see anything new.  I enjoy watching the same old birds, even the House Finches and Sparrows at my feeders, but the real reason I go out is to get that great photo of a bird that I’ve never seen before (or at least get a great photo of a bird I’ve only gotten crummy pics of before.)

I’m getting closer to a great portrait of a Painted Bunting.

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This Northern Cardinal

northern-cardinal-47-1280x895at Lake Meredith’s Harbor Bay seemed glad to have an audience, even if it was just me.  He could do worse, I really do have a keen ear for great music.  There were also several Orchard and Bullock’s Orioles, Western Kingbirds, a Lark Sparrow and Northern Mockingbirds in the same area, all singing cheerfully.

At Spring Canyon 5 Turkey Vultures picked through the Father’s day trash, but the coolest thing I saw was a group of 6 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hunting over the pond.

scissor-tailed-flycatcher-97-1280x891There was also a couple of Brown-headed Cowbirds.  Seems like they always have their nose in the air about something.brown-headed-cowbird-12-1280x868

The White-faced Ibis and the Sandhill Cranes were gone from the playa lake near Panhandle, but there were still a few American Avocets wading around Sunday.

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11 thoughts on “Panhandle Summers

  1. A UV Filter wouldn’t do a single thing for you besides protect your lens from some drops, if you are careless.. but there is a very effective UV filter on your sensor.. otherwise, you will just end up sticking a $30 piece of glass in front of much better optics. A Polarizer changes the direction of light coming into the lens- typically they are circular adjusted, meaning that you can twist it (while it is on the lens) to get the best effect. The shots I took in Point Lobos were taken with a Polarizer. Think Polarized sunglasses- they allow you to almost see “through” water at the right angle, because light that bounces off of water is reflected off of your glasses, but light that shines through the water is allowed through.. this is of course adjustable. A Neutral Density filter lowers the amount of light coming into the camera without affecting color in any way. This is useful when you are in situations where there is too much light, but you want to use a wide aperture.. It’s also helpful if you are photographing water, but the light is blowing your highlights.. it is how photographers get the “silky water” effect. What is the widest aperture that your 500mm zoom lens will allow? Does it include any image stabilization?

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  2. I’ve got a 2X extender.. I rarely use it though, which is a shame. I rarely use my Tilt-Shift Lens too, but I keep up the hope that someday I will. Funny, I thought I would never use my fisheye, and that I would use my T/S all the time.. I dont have one single photo in my portfolio taken with the T/S and at LEAST a quarter of my photos are with direct or derived from the fisheye lens.

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  3. Thanks for the suggestions, John. I’m curious now to see what they can do. I take a lot of photos with either sky or water as a back ground and I think this will help. Seems like cloudy backgrounds are the hardest to get the right exposure. I think the clouds refract the light to the point of washing everything out. Maybe filters would help.

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  4. A polarizer would make alllll of the difference. a ND Filter would only help if you are dealing with blown highlights too much. The string stabilizer would probably help a ton as well. I’ve become very adept at working with cloudy situations (it’s the ideal situation for HDR photography).. I would suggest bracketting and layering, but that would require a lot more stabilization, or a very very fast shutter speed if you are shooting handheld.

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  5. It’s not so much a problem of taking pictures when it’s cloudy, it’s more of a problem taking pictures when your subject is against the clouds. It’s sort of like taking photos in a room with a television on a empty channel as the background.

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  6. Yeah… That’s bc you are taking shots using aperture priority.. Which means the camera is metering the light to determine the shutter speed.. The meter works by determining the greatest source of light if you are configured for center weighted metering, or your focal point if you are using spot metering. The basic problem with both of those is that you have a composition that has multiple exposures in it.. So- do you expose for your subject, or expose for the background, or a combination? A camera will try to cut it in the middle but you lose the devil in the details. In this case a polarizer would make all of the difference, but wouldn’t give you that money shot. Play with exposure compensation.. Basically you are telling your camera- whatever you see, drop a half stop, or one stop, and take a shot.. That, a polarizer would change the way you look for possible photos..

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