Berry College Bluebirds

Over the weekend I got a chance to get away to Berry College in Rome, GA to check out the eagle's nest over there.  

This was a very bad day for me photographically speaking.  First, I was meeting a friend at Little River Falls to ride over to Rome, GA.  I got to the falls early in time to run down and take a few shots.  I got down there with my camera and tripod in perfect lighting only to realize that I had thrown my new lens adapter in the bag with no tripod plate on it, so I had no way to mount the camera to the tripod.  So, I tried my best handheld leaning against rails and rocks to stabilize my camera.  How did that work, you ask?  I have no idea, I accidentally deleted those images when I got back home.

When we got to Berry College, there was almost no action from the eagles the entire time I was there.  And when mom did fly from the nest to another branch I missed every single shot I tried to get of here.  The shots I did take of her perched I ended up deleting because there were branches across her face.

The only bright point of the day was this bluebird that stopped by the bluebird house for literally about 3 seconds.  This was the one shot I was ready for all day.  I'm ok with that, least I came away with one. ;)

ISO 800, 420mm, F/6.3 @ 1/320th second

Hover over the image to see camera settings used.  Click image to view it larger.

If you are a regular reader you know I am a huge bluebird fan, so this being the only shot I really got all day was good with me.  This ole boy had a big, honkin' cricket, too.

This image was made with my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  This was one of the rare occasions I was hand holding and not using a tripod.

Crank the Cuteness Dial

Time to turn it up to 10, as the kids say.  Or is that something kids even say?  Who knows?  What I do know is I have pegged the cuteness meter out today.  Actually, I did it about a month back, but I'm turning it back up today.

These are images of Whitetail Deer Fawns that I photographed at Berry College in early July.  

This first image was taken as this little guy was knocked out.  He stayed like this for as long as we were there shooting.  Never cared we even existed.  

ISO 640, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/1600th second

The next image is obviously a fawn nursing.  Again, theses creatures had no care in the world I was there.  I was trying for a bit of an interesting crop here that would focus on the fawn.  You can see my shutter speed was a little slow here.  The vibration compensation sure helped me out here.

ISO 800, 560mm, F/6.3 @ 1/400th second

Finally, these were the synchronized fawns.  I've got several pictures of them together like this.  I've also got several where they are both looking in the same direction.  It's almost like their brains were wired together.

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/1000th second

These images were all made with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.


Over the Fourth of July Weekend, a friend and I visited Berry College to photograph the deer fawns there.  They are in abundance over there and are pretty well accustom to a people presence.

I took my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  The lighting was wonderful that morning, as it had been raining and was still overcast for most of the morning.  Usually during a light rain, or right after a rain is the absolute best time to photograph!  The colors are all more saturated, the lighting is usually even and it the weather is generally cooler.  The cooler temps kept the fawns out in the open a little longer than normal, I believe.  They are a lot like me.  When it gets hot they start looking for shade.  The whitetail deer and I both have agility skills that are almost parallel, too...or is it opposite?  Oh, well.

ISO 1250, 500mm, F/6.3 @ 1/400th second

This little guy, or girl, was laying down in the grass.  I got on the ground to get eye level with him, or her.  Getting eye level with your subject usually provides a better perspective when shooting wildlife.  I slowly inched closer and closer until I got within about 20 yards of the deer.  He had no care in the world that I was there, but I certainly didn't want to get any closer and alarm him, or her.

If you notice the settings on this image, you'll notice that typically it's not a good idea to handhold with a shutter speed slower than your focal length.  What I mean is, if I was shooting at 500mm, I typically would want my shutter speed to be at 1/500th second.  However, the in body stabilization on the Sony A77ii allows me to cheat a bit.  Also, since the subject wasn't moving, I could get away with a bit of a slower shutter speed, too.

Dealing with the "wrong" light

As I was headed up to teach a workshop in The Great Smoky Mountains, I decided to make a few pit stops along the way.  One of those was over to Berry College in Rome, GA.  To shoot the eagles, you ask?  Nope, to shoot the bluebirds that have babies in a box right next to the eagle's nest area.

Now, ideally you would want to photograph this in the afternoon.  Because the sun comes up right behind this bluebird box.  Well, often times, like in my situation this particular morning, we do not have a choice of being at a certain location during the best light.  So, we have to deal with it.

How did I deal with it?  First, I knew I had to use my exposure compensation to over expose the bird by 1.5 stops.  I had to do this because of the strong back lighting.  If I had shot this bird at what my camera metered, there wouldn't have been much detail in the bird at all.  Next, I tried to position myself at an angle where the back lighting was less severe.  So, I was always paying attention to the sun and background through my viewfinder and moving my feet accordingly.  I did have a limitation because of a fence, so I tried to make lemonade out of lemons, as they say.

ISO 800, 360mm, F/5.6 @ 1/160th second

For this shot I used my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  I was able to shoot at a bit of a slower shutter speed because of the fact that I had my camera and lens mounted to my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod.


Last week I thought I was dying of the flu.  Since I didn't haul my butt from the bed often, I didn't post either.

Now that I think my life is back under control, I am going to be posting some images again.  

This is an image I made a few weeks ago while on a trip to Berry College in Rome, GA to look for a pair of Bald Eagles that next there.  No, this isn't an eagle.  Yes, I did see an eagle.  Yes, I sat there for hours first.  However, early in the morning this little bluebird helped pass the time by flying in to pose for me on this birdhouse.  No one else was really interested in this guy.  I thought he was awesome!

I captured this guy with my Canon 7D and Tamron 150-600mm Lens on my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod.  A great combo!

ISO 500, 483mm, F/6.3 @ 1/500th second

ISO 500, 483mm, F/6.3 @ 1/500th second

This little guy would fly in, pose for a few minutes, then leave.  He'd come back and do the same thing over and over most of the morning.  I tried to wait on a few things in my composition.  First, I wanted to capture as much blues a as I know, since he is a bluebird.  Secondly, I waited patiently before pushing the shutter until I was sure a catachlight was in his eye.  I think the catchlight in the eye really makes a huge difference in the final image.

One reminder:

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