Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Brazilian Logger Turned Birder Aims to Turn His Community into Bird Sanctuary

December 2, 2013

From SustainableTrip.org

sustainableTripIn the heart of the Brazilian Amazon is the Rio Negro Sustainable Development Reserve, an area that is rich in biodiversity and home to several small communities that depend on natural resources for a living. Pousada Garrido is the only hotel in the Tumbira region, and it is owned by a former logger and community leader named Roberto Mendonça.

Pousada Garrido has become a source of income for Mendonça as well as several other local families who offer tourism services to visitors. The inn also uses solar energy (as does the entire community), recycles, supports local artisans with reusable materials, and purchases foods from local producers. This year, Pousada Garrido earned Rainforest Alliance verification for sustainable tourism.
Tourists are drawn to Tumbira for the richness and exuberance of its forests, including the many bird species that abound there.

Mendonça partnered with a local tour guide named Cleudilon, whose nickname is Passarinho, or “little bird” in Portuguese, because he can perfectly imitate 32 types of birds! (Scroll down to see an awesome video of Cleudilon calling to birds in the forest.) The two recently undertook a project to make the inn into a perfect site for bird watching. And you can help make it happen! Visit the community’s crowdfunding page, to help them turn Tumbira into a community-based ecotourism center.

Paula Arantes of Garupa, the NGO helping Mendonça and Cleudilon raise money for the project, tells us more about the initiative.

Question: What is the plan for the money you hope to raise?
Paula Arantes: Roberto and Cleudilon want to turn their community into a birding and community tourism center. To get started, they intend to adapt the infrastructure of Pousada Garrido to sustainably accommodate more guests and provide what is needed for birding. They also want to publish a guide to the local birdlife as a reference for tourists and an educational resource for the children of the community.

Q: Why are Tumbira and Pousada Garrido such special places for bird watching?
Arantes: Though you can see birds everywhere in Amazon, Tumbira is special because its pathways make it easy to see many varieties of birds, and the area is easily accessible by land or by boat. Furthermore, Cleudilon’s incredible talent for imitating birds and really enhances the birding experience.

Q: What do you need to carry out the project?
Arantes: Investments need to be made to expand the inn without negatively impacting the environment. More equipment is also needed for bird watching, and Cleudilon needs resources to develop the bird guide. The goal is to raise around US$8,800 (20,000 Brazilian reales) to help cover building materials, labor, the development of the guide, and more.

Q: What progress has been made so far?
Arantes: Thanks to the Rainforest Alliance verification process, we’ve identified the appropriate areas for making investments and improvements in a sustainable way.

Q: How does this project benefit the community?
Arantes: More tourists means more sustainable income for the residents! Supporting community-based tourism is one of the best ways for travelers to ensure that their vacation is sustainable.

Q: How can people help?
Arantes: On the project page on the Garupa website, you can find more details about the initiative and make an online donation to co-finance this effort. Donors receive tokens of appreciation, such as photographs, the bird guide, and even stays at the inn, depending on the amount contributed. Donating any amount, no matter how small, and sharing our project with your friends and family is the best way to make Roberto’s dream a reality!

PERMALINK: sustainabletrip.org

Bird Photo Booth: Take pics as birds feast on seeds

December 2, 2013

From Gadget.com

Image

Homeowners love the sound of birds chirping during the day. Some of them attract these winged creatures onto their front yards by putting up bird feeders. As much as you want to observe these birds up close, you know they just fly away if you get too near.

Let Bird Photo Booth solve that problem and even save those moments forever. It is a bird feeder with a slot inside where you put your old iPhone or GoPro camera. The camera is connected to a device inside the house via Bluetooth or WiFi, enabling you to snap photos of feeding birds yourself without disturbing them.

This weather-resistant contraption is made of sustainably harvested white oak hardwood and comes with a macro lens and circular polarizing lens that zooms in the birds automatically while providing finer details. It also has a lens cap protector, stainless steel perch and bowl for the seeds, and foam inserts for both iPhone and GoPro.

The iPhone foam insert also works with 4th and 5th-gen iPod Touch, while the GoPro protective foam insert fits all models, including the new GoPro Hero 3 editions. Android device owners will have to wait a bit, as usual.

The company even suggests you could also communicate with the birds using FaceTime, but that might just scare the birds away. They also recommend to turn off the device’s auto-lock functionality so you won’t miss a moment.

The Bird Photo Booth is available online for $150, plus shipping.

PERMALINK: gadget.com

The Fat Finch’s Bird and Photo Walk

February 27, 2012

Thanks to Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, and various ducks, our Fat Finch photo/bird walk last Saturday was a success. Four of us took out a group of twenty people for hints and tips on bird photography and we thought you’d like to see some of the results. For this post we’ve selected three photos that illustrate some of the suggestions we made last time in Eight Steps to Great Bird Photography.

First up is a crane in flight, taken by one of the leaders, Tomas Spross.

Tomas Spross 2012

For those of you interested in the finer points of photography, that photo was taken with a 300mm f-4 lenses set at f-11 and 1/2000th of a second. Notice the diagonal created in the photo by the bird’s body. Diagonal compositions often create a dynamic sense of movement in photographs and this photograph conveys the energy and speed of flight. Triangles have the same effect, illustrated here by the triangle created by the bird’s wings that leads your eyes directly to the bird’s eye which is at one of the Rule of thirds intersections. (More on that below.)

Next up is a fine photo of a Green-winged Teal taken by another of the leaders, Bosque Bill, as he likes to be known. This horizontal composition conveys the calmness of the duck. Note that the duck’s eyes are not at either side of the photo, so the viewers’ eyes aren’t led out of the photo before they notice the blue-green reflection on the water of the duck’s head .

Bosque Bill 2012

The other two leaders of the group, Linda Rockwell and Kent Winchester, never got around to taking any photos. We are waiting for participants to send us examples of their photos.

We end today’s post with a photo made by Matt Bruno, a participant who is ten years old. Matt was unable to go with us after the introductory talk at the Fat Finch store but he sent along three photographs he made earlier in the month. We’re using only one today, a shot of an American Kestrel that perfectly illustrates another point about composition.

Matt Bruno 2012

We have here another diagonal composition, the tree limbs beginning in the lower left and ending with the kestrel. Although the kestrel is perched in this photo, the diagonal gives you a sense of its kinetic energy, waiting for release when it swoops down on its next bit of food.

Rule of Thirds

Note the location of the kestrel’s eyes – precisely on one of the intersecting points resulting from the Rule of Thirds. (A subset of the Golden Ratio used by artists and architects since at least the time of ancient Egypt.)

Thanks to all who participated. It was a great morning of wild birds and photographers.

Eight Steps to Great Bird Photography

February 24, 2012

 

FIND THE BIRD

The absolute best way to find birds to photograph is to go out with an experienced birder. No field guide will reliably get you to birds as rapidly. If you don’t know a good birder, join your local Audubon club or call a birding store and ask about local birding hot spots.  And, even when you’re out without a birder, stop anytime you see a group of people with binoculars and spotting scopes. Birders share their delights.

Field guides are the second best way to find birds to photograph. Most field guides have been reduced for your smart phones and computer tablets and they show it. Get the real book. National Geographic’s is the most comprehensive, followed closely by Sibley’s and by Ken Kaufmann’s. Not only do they show you the bird and tell you where it lives and travels, they tell you about its habits. Birds, like all animals, are creatures of habit. More about that in a moment.

GET CLOSE

For the best telephoto lens, take ten steps forward.  Wear dull clothing, use trees, bushes, grasses, and other natural obstacles to sneak up on the birds. If necessary, crawl, don’t walk. The sooner you forget your natural dignity, the sooner you’ll get fantastic photographs.

SIT DOWN AND WAIT

You have, as Wendell Berry puts it, come into “the peace of wild things.” Find a likely habitat, sit down, and be silent. The birds will come to you as soon as you are at peace.

ALTERNATIVE METHOD

Create a bird photography station in your backyard. All you need are feeders, bird seed, and a comfortable place to sit. You can even sit indoors, next to a window.

MAKING THE PHOTOGRAPHS

CHECK YOUR CAMERA

You are in place, quietly waiting for the birds. Now is the time to check your camera. Is it turned on? Lens cap removed? Are the settings correct? If you are shooting with a modern digital camera, 90% of the time its automatic setting will deliver acceptable photographs. Beware:  It has a built-in bias for a wide aperture and fast speed, meaning that the depth-of-field – the area in focus – will be limited. If you can, manually set the ISO to 200 (Good light) or 400 (Bad light) to minimize digital “noise.”

COMPOSE 

Ready to shoot? Take three more seconds to compose the photograph. In your mind’s eye divide the scene you are looking at through the camera into equal thirds, vertically and horizontally. Adjust the camera so that the bird or, even better, the bird’s eyes are at one of the nine points where the lines intersect. Don’t put the bird in the precise middle of the frame. That results in a static, boring composition.

Unless you are waiting for the bird to look directly at the camera, leave space on the side of the photograph where the bird is looking. Otherwise, your viewer’s eyes will leave the photograph before seeing all the photograph. And even though almost all birds’ eyes are on the side of their heads, your photographs will be more interesting if the bird is looking toward the camera. Include some habitat that is in focus. (That will be difficult or impossible if you are shooting with large telephoto lenses which have severely limited depth-of-field.)

There is nothing wrong with photographs of perched birds, but action will add interest to your photographs. Try to get shots of take-offs and landings.

Birds telegraph their take-offs. Cranes and shorebirds often stare in the direction of take-off before starting their take-off runs. Birds usually take off and land into the wind. Raptors and other mid-sized birds will crouch just before leaving their perch. Almost all birds defecate in the seconds before take-off. Focus on the bird’s head when you see this behavior and start clicking the shutter at the first move.

Birds in flight require forethought. If you wait until the bird is flying by you, it’s going too fast for your camera’s automatic focus system to keep up. Predict from where the bird will come, pre-focus by depressing the shutter button part way, and wait for the bird to reach that point before taking the photo. If your camera allows burst shooting, take several shots, increasing the odds of getting one that is sharply focused. And remember that a photograph with a bird flying directly toward your camera will emotionally make your viewers participants; not observers.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS

You’re almost ready now. The only thing left to do is focus, focus, focus.

SUMMARY

For bird photography the old maxim of documentary photography, “F8 and be there” works best. You can substitute F5.6 or F11 aperture settings for F8. Modern digital cameras allow you to substitute “automatic” settings.

There is no substitute for being there.

Finally, and most important, remember why you are there.

 

Kent Winchester

www.landofclearlight.com

www.abqphotographersgallery.com

 

Basic Bird Photography

February 14, 2012

Photo Copyrighted by Linda Rockwell

The Fat Finch presents monthly events.  The next one will be Saturday, February 25, a workshop on photographing wild birds.

Taking  good photographs of wild birds can be a challenge.  In addition to understanding your camera, it helps to know a bit about basic bird behavior.  Take a lesson with two photographers who are also experienced birders.  This workshop will be a fun and easy event, perfect for any level photographer with any kind of camera.

Space is limited, so call The Fat Finch at 505-898-8900 for more information and to make a reservation. We’ll meet at the store and drive to the Rio Grande Nature Center after a brief orientation. Participants will receive a one-day 10% off coupon for use at the Fat Finch. Click here for directions.

Super Bowl Sunday 2012 – For the Birds

February 7, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Scoring a Touchdown

When we first saw them, the Raven was negotiating with the Golden Eagle about the carcass of a Snow Goose upon which the eagle was perched. Too far away to be certain, we supposed that the raven was explaining to the eagle that contributions would be gratefully accepted. The eagle appeared disinterested.

That was the tail end of our annual Super Bowl Sunday birding trip and was one of the highlights. The juvenile Western Meadowlarks added spice and the Black Phoebe and Says Phoebes weren’t bad either. And we saw numbers of Northern Harrier Hawks at work even though it was a Sunday. Northern Harriers lack religion.

We missed, by two days and three miles, the latest Aplomado Falcon visit. But several Kestrels made up for that, hovering like the best of helicopters and swooping down faster than any helicopter. Two Towhees rearranged last autumn’s leaves, White-crowned Sparrows posed, and Snow Geese swirled for no apparent reason. Except for the time the Harrier glided into their territory. That caused political unrest.

Snowing Geese

And 8,400 trumpets in the orchestra of evolution trumpeted. Aldo Leopold was right about Sandhill Cranes. They played several concerts during our sunset/sunrise visits. They go to bed earlier than the Snow Geese and begin their morning commute after the geese. The geese are last in, first out and the Sandhills don’t care. Sandhills aren’t as excitable as Snow Geese and they worry less. If Sandhills are the trumpets of evolution, Snow Geese are the violins and are, accordingly, more high strung.

We wanted to show you a photo of that Raven and Golden Eagle discussion but, as we set up the shot, a cretin who works at the refuge careened into the field in his big white pick-up, scared the eagle and the Raven away and stole the goose carcass for himself, unceremoniously pitching it in the back of the pick-up, leaving us with only back-lit photos of the eagle and raven flying away and leaving both of them without lunch. A strong letter of protest to the refuge will be dispatched. If that man needed the goose for food, we’re not paying him enough; if he dislikes Golden Eagles, he ought to have a desk job. Either way, good manners required that he wait for me to make my photograph before scuttling the negotiations between the eagle and the raven.

 

 

 

 

Waiting for the Train

October 6, 2010

Humans aren’t the only ones who wait for trains apparently. This crow – or is it a raven – was found on this signal just minutes before an Amtrak passenger train passed by. It was at the end of last weekend, a weekend spent procrastinating. Which is why there is a photo of a bird on a train signal here today and not a full-fledged blog post.

Find the Warbler

September 16, 2010

We’ve noted before our sympathy with John J. Audubon who shot warblers to get them to hold still long enough for him to identify and paint them. Audubon, of course, worked before cameras were invented.

We have a camera and it can hold warblers still for an instant – assuming we can see them in the first place. We had an advantage with this migrating warbler: We saw the bird moving before taking the photo. All you can see is the still photo, so it will be harder for you to find it. (Motion attracts the eye. We see motion with our peripheral vision. To move is to make visible.

Here is a close up. We thank the warbler for holding still for 1/250th of second so we could get the shot.

Jays, Peanuts, and Independence

September 6, 2010

I’m on a porch in the mountains. As I write this, a White-breasted Nuthatch pecks at the small bird feeder directly in front of me.  At my feet an Oregon Junco hops around, impertinently ignoring the dogs who likewise ignore her. Soon, she’s replaced with a Pine Siskin who also ignores the dogs. Dwindling numbers of hummingbirds who haven’t departed for the south are contesting for primary rights to each of three feeders and some Steller’s Jays are perched in the evergreen in the yard, yelling at me.

They’re yelling because I just put some nice, fresh peanuts on top of my car which is parked right in front of the porch on which I sit and the Jays apparently think the peanuts should be somewhere else.

Too bad. I want some close-up photos of the jays and those peanuts are their modeling fee. But they have to come get them. I can be as stubborn and cantankerous as any jay. That may be the reason I love them so much, I recognize kindred spirits. Probably has something to do with my authority issues. I don’t like being told what to do anymore than those jays like being told they have to come to my car to get the peanuts.

The chipmunks have so such scruples; they come to other end of the porch and hop up in the bucket that holds the peanuts.

Yesterday, I cut down some bushes that were growing next to the porch and the Juncos are prowling around in the resulting brush pile. They were perfectly good bushes; inoffensive, pretty, and innocent, but they had become “ladder fuel,” ground-dwelling plants high enough to reach low tree branches in a wildfire. The resulting pile will have to be moved, which won’t please the juncos, but they’ll be more polite about it than the jays are about their peanuts.

Momentary Mockingbird Delay

June 26, 2010

We promised last time to continue our study of bird song with a post about “The Mockingbird Problem.”  We lied. Exigencies of the day jobs have forced a delay. To keep you interested though, here is a photo which is in the public domain thanks to the photographer, of a Northern Mockingbird chick, deciding whether to sing or not.  We’ll be back with the promised post shortly.


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