Friday, 29 April 2011

Upcoming thunderstorm

It is very dry for the time of the year. No wonder, the last couple of weeks we had sunny days with blue skies. The drought build-up (= precipitation – vaporation) since April 1-st is already -75 mm, a value that is usually reached at the end of the summer. But today, in late afternoon, you could sense a change in the air.
My daughter has just passed her driver’s license exam (a miracle has happened!) and after diner we made our first test ride in my car with her behind the wheel. In the distance I saw heavy weather that was approaching fast. To make a long story short, 15 minutes later I arrived (safely!) at the “Mosbulten”, an open marshy area. Ideal to test the real capabilities of the 17-40mm wide-angle lens with my brand-new 5D Mark II camera. The ditch with flowering Water Violet (Hottonia palustris/Waterviolier) was an unexpected pleasant surprise.
So today’s events confirmed what I already knew. For landscape photography you have to be fast as well (seconds after I took this picture it was raining cats and dogs) and you need just that bit of luck that everything fits. I forgot my tripod, but luckily switching to ISO 800 is not a problem with a full-frame sensor.

* Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 17-40mm/f4 @ 20mm; ISO-800, f9, 1/50s; 2 stop ND gradient filter; hand held.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Texel terns

A midweek Texel is a good way to enjoy life. At the margins of the day I spent quite some hours to test my new Canon EOS 7D camera. I fully concentrated on flight shots of terns. Little Terns (Sternula albifrons/Dwergstern), foraging above the sea near the lighthouse in the north, and Common Tern (Sterna hirundo/Visdief), breeding on shell beaches in small pools just behind the Wadden dike, proved to be nice subjects. But Sandwich Terns (Sterna sandvicensis/Grote Stern) were the absolute stars; here a fly-by almost at eye level (the strong NE wind helped me a bit). The caught Sandeel (Ammodytes sp./Zandspiering) plays an important role in the courtship rituals. Conclusion: The AF system of the 7D works fine and is fast, however the images are a bit noisy.

* Canon EOS 7D with 500mm/f4 IS; ISO-400, f7.1, 1/2000s; from tripod.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Singing in the Zeereep

This weekend I visited my friend Arie Ouwerkerk on Terschelling. My best picture is this Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus/Fitis) in Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides/Duindoorn) taken in the ‘zeereep’, a nice Dutch word indicating the first row of dunes bordering the North Sea beach, of the nature reserve “Boschplaat”. The wintering Merlin (Falco columbarius/Smelleken) was gone but the confiding ♀ Peregrine (Falco peregrinus/Slechtvalk) was still present in the polder. You can check Arie’s P-base site for nice pictures of these falcon species.

* Canon EOS 1D Mark II with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-200, f7.1, 1/500s, +0.3 stop; from tripod.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Into the meadows

Today I went again on ‘expedition’ with wader specialist Astrid Kant (she just wrote an excellent book about it). This year we concentrated on Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa/Grutto) in the meadows. Of course as a member of the wader family they prefer to have their feet in the water, but this rather dry area is the place where they breed and guide their chicks, and thus by necessity spend most of their time in the coming 2 months.

* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f7.1, 1/640s; from tripod, in a hide.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Garganey festival

Again I got up early this morning and drove off in the dark to my local lake; somehow I felt that changes were good for an encounter with Garganey (Anas querquedula/Zomertaling), a scarce migratory bird, wintering in Africa south of the Sahara. The pictures with which I came home (especially the first one) surpass the ones I had pre-visualized. What an adrenaline moment. In the excitement I left a box with CF cards (16Gb in total) at the waterline. Those who know me are probably not surprised. I shall never forget this beautiful spring day (and this is not because of today’s ever-high temperature record of 25°C). Later in the afternoon I came back and found my CF cards, guarded by a territorial Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus/Kievit)!

* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f6.3, 1/800s, -0.7 stop; from beanbag.
* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f7.1, 1/1250s, -0.3 stop; idem.
* Canon EOS 40D with 500mm/f4 IS and 1.4x; ISO-400, f8, 1/1000s, -0.3 stop; idem.