A Handsome Couple – Bald Eagles

•November 25, 2021 • 6 Comments

Our favorite bald eagles are back at their nest and determining what repairs and additions need to be made to the nest. It does seem a little bit early (early November) for them to be doing home repairs in preparation for family planning. But better to do now, before the building materials are covered in feet of snow in next few months. The pair make for a handsome couple in their nest. The image appeared on the front cover of the Summit Daily News, Silverthorne, Colorado.

A Handsome Couple

I watched the female (it was the larger of the two birds) bald eagle fly down from thr nest and land on the ground near a very large branch. She grabbed the branch by its beak and repositioned it for flight. She grabbed the trunk with one talon and started to fly and drag the branch along the ground with the intent of getting airborne and delivering it to the nest. An adult bald eagle can lift about 3-5 pounds from a dead stop. This branch had to weigh more. Cheers for this ambitious eagle to tackle this prize. One can see the power in her wings in this Slow-Motion video. 4K/24p, 5x slow motion, Sony A1, Sony 200-600 lens+1.4x TC. Handheld, processed in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Grab A Branch - Reposition for Flight

Grab A Branch – Reposition for Flight

Double Eagles
Double Eagles

Sony Alpha 1 (A1) Clear Image Zoom (CIZ)

•June 10, 2021 • 1 Comment

This post is for my fellow photographers that have recently purchased the new Sony A1 camera. For those who are interested in Clear Image Zoom (CIZ), I have listed my set-up instructions below.

CIZ is also available on the Sony A9 and Sony A7R4. Unfortunately, Menu instructions are slightly different but concept is the same.

Sony A1 Clear Image Zoom 

Clear Image Zoom (CIZ) is a Sony technology that provides the ability to increase your zoom range beyond the full extension of your optical range. Also known as digital zoom, it uses software and impressive algorithms to increase the zoom range by 1.5x in both still images and movies. While the image quality is not equivalent to an optical zoom, it is so good that under most circumstances it is hard to see a difference. This is especially true in video usage.

Still Images

Still images must be .jpeg images only. RAW images do not work. Since most of us shoot RAW, changing to .jpeg to use CIZ, then back to RAW for normal shooting can be frustrating. And since there is more than one Menu Item that must be set in the Menu, I find that using the Mode Dial Registration Recall Modes (1,2,3 on Mode Dial) to be the most convenient for setup. I use #3.

Since many of us use the Registration Recall Modes for shooting scenarios (Birds in Flight, Scenic, etc.) this is a good place to start. Dial in one of the modes. For me #1 is Birds in Flight. When I dial-in #1 all my setting for BIF are active. For example: 1/2500 sec, f/9, Auto ISO, Focus Area = Zone, Metering = Spot Standard, Tracking on, Bird Eye AF On, etc. Now you can add the settings for CIZ and Save As Recall Mode #3.

Settings for CIZ on Recall Mode Dial

  1. Shooting>Image Quality>JPEG/HEIF Switch>JPEG
  2. Shooting>Image Quality>Image Quality Settings>File Format>JPEG
  3. Shooting>Image Quality>Image Quality Settings>JPEG Quality>X.Fine
  4. Shooting>Image Quality>Image Quality Settings>JPEG Image Size>L:50M (50 Megapixels for max JPEG resolution)
  5. Shooting>Zoom>Zoom>Zoom Range>Clear Image Zoom
  6. Shooting>Shooting Mode>Camera Set Memory> select #3 (#3 on the Recall Mode Dial is now defined)

Settings for CIZ Zoom Range

  1. Setup>Operation customize>[Scenic] Custom Key Setting>Rear2>#2>[Scenic][Movie]Zoom (this sets the main front wheel center button to display the Zoom Range for CIZ. Other buttons can be customized instead of the center button.

Operating the A1 for CIZ For Stills

  1. Dial in Recall Mode #3 on Mode dial.
  2. Press the center button on the front wheel. The following image will appear on the LCD/Viewfinder screen:
  3. Rotate the wheel clockwise to Zoom-in to a maximum of 1.5X. Rotate counterclockwise to Zoom-out.
  4. Note new ikon on the shooting screen.
  5. Take your picture.
  6. CIZ can be used in addition to the APS-C Crop Mode.

Operating the A1 for CIZ For Movies (Video)

  1. Dial in Movies on Mode Dial (film ikon on the Recall Mode Dial, don’t forget to do settings for Movies)
  2. Press the Center button on the Main Wheel to display the above CIZ Zoom screens.
  3. Rotate the wheel to the desired zoom setting up to 1.5X.
  4. Start the video (The Main wheel can be rotated while shooting video)
  5. Can be used in addition to the APS-C Crop Mode to get another 1.5x zoom.
  6. Example of max zoom attainable: 200-600 lens+2xTC+1.5x Crop Mode+1.5x CIZ = 2700mm with no loss of resolution.
  7. Tripod strongly recommended.

Exceptions

  1. Does not work for S&Q selection.
  2. Does not work for 8K
  3. Works for 4K (but not 120p)
  4. Works for HD (but not 120p)
  5. Beware Autofocus is turned OFF when using CIZ in video.

Richard Seeley, 978-985-5475, richard@seeley.com, 04-01-21, rev1

Osprey Dive, Catch, Swim, Fly

•April 22, 2021 • 3 Comments

Dive, Catch, Swim, Fly – Slow Motion video of a series of 60 images of an osprey diving, swimming, emerging from the water and flying with a fish. Watch how the legs and talons swing into position and the nictitating membrane covers the eyes just before impact (video pauses for 3 seconds). Images processed in Camera Raw, Bridge, Photoshop and created into a video file with Adobe Premiere Pro. Sony A1, Sony 200-600 lens, 1.4xTC, 1/2500 sec, f/9, AutoISO, Focus Area=Wide, handheld.

Wedding Ring Lost and Found

•February 27, 2021 • 19 Comments

On Thursday, February 4, 2021 friends Werner Baumgartner and Wiebe Gortmaker and I traveled to the Sax-Zim Bog, in northern Minnesota, in search of the Great Gray Owl to photograph. The forecast was not friendly. The weather was predicted to include sub-zero temperatures, overcast skies and maybe some snow. If we had the flexibility to change our reservations we would have done so. But the schedule was set in place 5 weeks prior and trying to make changes in the last week before departure was just not possible. So we “bit the bullet” and traveled to one of the coldest places in the USA in the hope of finding the Great Gray Owl.

I have never experienced such cold. Not even in the Arctic or in Alaska or in Svalbard, Norway (a few hundred miles south of the North Pole). One morning, the temperature on the rental car thermometer was minus 32 degrees. Things just don’t work well at this heinous temperature. Automobile doors don’t open, doors don’t close, cars don’t start and hands are in pain. But, we soldiered onward. We drove the roads in the Bog and all the way to Two Harbors, MN, where the owls were rumored to be found. In the 4 days that we were there, we never did see a Great Gray Owl. They probably had far more sense than their human friends and retreated to where it was warmer and protected from the wind. The temperature never got above zero degrees and I discovered another side-effect of very cold temperatures – hands, fingers and skin shrink.

The shrinking effect must have contributed to the fact that one evening I looked at my hand and was shocked to discover no wedding ring. Oh no, the ring must have slipped off of my finger during the numerous times that I removed my gloves. I immediately searched all of my gloves (I had three different pairs, including heated glove liners), but no luck. I searched the rental car several time, but no luck there either. No ring in my luggage or camera bag. We traveled many times to the Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center to photograph birds at the feeders and for restroom breaks. So I searched the outhouse next. What fun looking into every crack and crevice in the outhouse building for my wedding ring. I even lifted the lid. Not sure what I would have done if I had seen it in the pothole. I did not find it.

We cut the trip short because of the lack of owls. We went home somewhat dejected, I more than the others (lost ring and a previous visit 2 years ago resulted in no Great Gray Owl photographs, either). I did photograph a few birds at the Welcome Center feeders. Really glad the feeders were kept operational. See images below:

When back at home in Silverthorne, Colorado, I was discussing our disastrous trip with photography friend Bob Karcz. I blame him. He is responsible for getting me so excited to photograph the Great Grays at the bog. His trip one month earlier resulted in 7 sightings and hundreds of phenomenal photographs of the Great Gray Owl including flight shots with a vole.

Bob said, “contact Sparky about your ring”. I did not know Sparky Stenaas. But Bob knew him. Bob somehow gets to know every person within a 1 mile radius of where he is photographing. Must be that mid-western thing (he is from Wisconsin).

So, I sent an email to Sparky (Director of the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog organization).

The next day I got a phone call from Sparky:

WE FOUND YOUR RING!

Wow, can you imagine? Heather-Marie Bloom, a Welcome Center host and Naturalist was near the out-house when she spotted something shiny in the snow. My Ring! Amazing, what are the chances?

The ring was packaged and shipped FedEx to my home shortly thereafter. It arrived a few days later, safe and sound. See photo of ring. It needs a little repair work, but that was the case before I lost it. I designed the ring 17 years ago and had it fabricated by Summit Gold Jewelers in Frisco, Colorado. It is a 3 panel rendition of the northern end of the Ten-Mile range (in Summit County, Colorado) with the famous Peak One in the center panel in semi-precious gems inlaid in gold. It would have been impossible to reproduce this ring.

I am indebted to the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky Stenaas, Heather-Marie Bloom and to my friend Bob Karcz.

Thank you,

Rich

 

Shooting and Processing Video for Wildlife

•November 16, 2020 • 3 Comments

My presentation on Shooting and Processing Video For Wildlife has been updated to Version 2. A new video clip has been added (running pronghorn antelopes fawns) plus new information has been added since the video was originally created in November 2020. A .pdf of the presentation can be downloaded:

Click here to Download

I consider myself a hybrid shooter that loves to photograph wildlife and be able to switch to video when the opportunity presents itself. I love to shoot video and I have many, many video clips that can be found on my website (www.richardseeleyphotography.smugmug.com), YouTube and stock agencies, including National Geographic.

Click on image to see a video of the presentation:

Bucky the Baby Beaver

•July 31, 2020 • 15 Comments

When I was just a little boy, I would marvel at Bucky the Beaver on TV commercials for Ipana Toothpaste.  You have to be of a certain age to remember that cute beaver mascot. Never did I think that I would someday see and photograph the cutest of wild beavers – Bucky the Baby Beaver.

Baby Beaver Kit – A curious baby beaver emerges from the water, sits on its haunches and looks at the world around it. Coulter Bay, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

 

The event took place in Coulter Bay Marina in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. We (friend Bob Karcz and I) had just arrived after a 10 hour drive from Colorado when we heard about a beaver family living on one of the docks at the Coulter Bay Marina. The beaver family built its lodge at the entrance to one of the marina docks, blocking the use of the dock. Rather than remove the lodge, the Park Rangers protected the lodge by chaining off the entrance, even if it meant the loss of one of several of their boating berths. Thank you Park Rangers.

National Park Service Dock Blocked by Beaver Lodge

It was evening and we sat in awe on the shore until dark photographing these playful, curious baby beavers. They would swim in an out of the lodge, up to the shore, climb up in the grass and pose for the photographers. The cutest ever.

Baby Beaver Swimming – A baby beaver kit swims to the shore to discover its new world. Coulter Bay, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

 

Baby Beaver Watching Warily

 

Baby Beaver Drinking Reflection

Cute Kit

 

 

Beavers learn at an early age that grooming their fur is essential to keep it waterproof. Watch this short video of an adorable baby beaver as it grooms its fur:

 

 

Blocking an NPS dock is a serious offense and could not be allowed to go on indefinitely. What was the Park Service to do? Somehow the beaver parents got the message – they had to relocate. Was it the hoard of photographers and tourists that convinced them the current location was no longer viable or was it a normal event in the lifecycle of the beavers that they move to a summer home or was it the Park Service beaver whisperer that communicated the fact that it was time to move on.

How do beaver parents relocate their family when the kits are to young to swim long distances. The parents carry them in their mouth, of course:

Kit Gets A Ride

Kit Gets A Ride

Beaver Kit Gets A Ride To New Home

Parent Beaver Returns for Next Kit

Parent Beaver Returns for Next Kit

 

The entire family was relocated in this fashion. As soon as the last kit was moved, the Park Service dismantled their lodge. What great timing.

 

Least Tern Most Spectacular Dive

•August 1, 2019 • 1 Comment

While exploring one of my favorite spots for great egrets (Jones River Landing, Gloucester, Massachusetts), I watched a beautiful white bird hover over the water about 40 feet high, then tuck its wings and dive straight down. The bird was a Least Tern. It dove straight through the surface of the pond and came up with a fish in its beak. Least Terns are a protected species during the nesting season. They nest in and around Cape Ann during spring and summer.

I was immediately excited to try to photograph this behavior. The challenge was to follow the bird as it plummeted to the water and hold the camera in position as it broke the surface. Too slow and I would miss the wing position, splash and point of entry. Too fast and I would overshoot the dive point and miss the Tern emerging from the water.

Fortunately, I have had some experience photography diving osprey. See my blog post:(https://richardseeleyphotography.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/osprey-dive-catch-and-kill/

It took several attempts but the Tern continued to dive for fish until I had an acceptable series. Thank you Mr. Tern. If you look carefully you can see a fish in its beak.

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Bear-ly Breathing

•July 13, 2019 • 9 Comments

There I was attempting to photograph an elk that came running out of the bushes. It is rare to see a lone elk, especially one in such a rush. They usually travel in herds so I was ready for more elk to emerge from the bushes. But, Oh No, it was a black bear that came pouncing out, it stopped and starred straight at me.

I felt that I was safe because of the fence between us. But, Oh No it jumped right thru the fence and into the pond.

 

I thought that I was still safe with the pond between us. But, Oh No, it started swimming towards me.

I backed up slowly, my heart racing, continuing to photograph, and remembering that my car was unfortunately 200 yards away. Then the bear did a U-Turn and swam back to where it jumped in. I have no idea why the bear turned around and swam back, but I was able to breathe again.

Fish Fight to the Finish Video on ABC Television

•March 23, 2019 • 18 Comments

Delighted to report that my Slow-Motion video “Fish Fight to the Fish” has been acquired by ABC Television for use in their “Right This Minute” segment. Kinda funny to watch where they have placed it and the style of the show. Sorry for the commercial preceding the video.

Fish Fight to the Finish Video

 

 

Right This Minute TV Show Segment

 

A Bald Eagle would rather steal a fish from another eagle than catch one for itself. This seems to be the standard behavior on the Chilkat River in Haines, Alaska. The chum salmon do one of the last spawning runs on the Chilkat River in November each year. Bald eagles by the thousands converge on the sand bars and river banks of the Chilkat River for their annual feast. There is much competition for the spawning salmon, and the eagles will fight and steal from each other to get their share. Wildlife photographers from the US and foreign countries also converge at Haines to photograph this spectacular event.

Photographing bald eagles on the Chilkat river is very challenging photography. They fly, attack, steal at varying distances from the photographer across the braided river gravel bars, often in poor light conditions. Strong daylight is limited to about 10am to 2pm at that time of the year in Alaska. Weather is always a factor. Every year that I have been to Haines (3 times over 4 years) to photograph this event, it has snowed. Snow can be good. It provides a very different setting, but also very dim light. A photographer needs good light to capture the action of these amazing raptors.

The eagles are flying about almost constantly:  up and down the river, across the river to the trees along the river banks where they often consume their prey, and frequently overhead. I was standing on the shore of the river handholding my camera, scanning for some action, when squawking and screeching could be heard overhead. I looked up and saw two eagles fighting with one another. I did not have time to think. My arms reacted. I had about 2 seconds to focus on the eagles, start my slow-motion video and follow them while they crashed through the trees and down into the snow behind a log only 50 feet away.  I held my breath, watched and waited. It took the eagles about 5 minutes to recover from their crash, then the victor emerged from behind the log, flying almost straight at me with the fish in its talons. I reacted within seconds and was able to photograph it as it flew past me just yards away. After my heart restarted, the playback of the video confirmed that I had a winner.

Hatchling to Fledgling

•October 21, 2018 • 7 Comments

Hatchling to Fledgling

Several years ago, a friend showed me the location of a hummingbird nest on a tree branch near a popular trail in Dillon, Colorado.  On a number of occasions over the years I would look for the nest to see if there was any activity.  The nest was about 6 feet off the ground and very difficult to see into the interior and even more difficult to photograph.  I never did see any activity and the last time that I looked I was not even able to locate the nest. I assumed that it was abandoned and it fell out of the tree.

I searched up and down the trail in frustration trying to locate the nest. A broad-tailed hummingbird was flitting about and started buzzing me. I watched carefully as the hummer hovered and slowly descended to a branch right in front of me and landed on this stub.  To my surprise, it was not a stub, it was a nest. This nest was only five feet off the ground and with a clear line of sight from the trail. The hummer was sitting on the nest. There had to be either eggs or babies in the nest.  Finally, my lucky day.

When the hummer flew off, I could see that there was one baby hummingbird in the nest. Probably just a few days old. The period of time from hatchling to fledgling is about 21 days. Once they fledge they are ready to fly and migrate south. They fly solo, on their own in just a few days after fledging.  This is Just amazing to me.

Parent Hummingbird Feeds Chick

Parent Hummingbird Feeds Chick

With my Sony A7R3, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens, mounted on a tripod, with a wireless remote trigger, I watched and photographed the hummingbird nest from August 5 to August 20, 2018 until after the baby fledged. From a series of video clips and images. I have created this short movie (50 seconds).

Hatchling to Fledgling

 

 

 
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