ImageSpotlight: Northern Cardinal

Well, I’m currently laid up in bed recovering from gall bladder surgery, so I decided to pull one of my old files to share with you. This image is one of my first digital files and I still really like it. I believe I took this in 2005, just after the 2004 Valley Land Fund photo contest. I often joked that had I taken the image during the contest, it likely would have placed in the birds category. I could be wrong of course, but it has a lot going for it. The thorny shrub provides a beautiful v-shaped perch, and the tiny red blooms compliment the birds bright red feathers. What really takes this one over the top though is that perfectly raised crest.

Northern Cardinal: Canon D60 | 500/4.5 | Settings Unknown

I’d like to tell you that I planned for the bird to rest on that perch, that I was waiting for it to raise its crest, and that I used a specific f-stop to blur that background. To be honest though, in 2005 I was just sitting at a blind near a bird feeder and this shot just presented itself. Sometimes we just get lucky but one thing to take away from this image is this….you have to spend time in the field if you want lady luck to shine down upon you.

Until next time, keep shooting… – KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Green Lynx Spider

The green lynx spider is undoubtedly my favorite spider. With their chartreuse colored body and translucent legs, they are quite photogenic and thus, make excellent subjects. Interestingly, they not only inject their venom into their prey, they also spray their venom, a behavior not known to be associated with any other spider. They pose little threat to humans, however, as their bite is equated to the familiar sting of a bee. They hunt among shrubs and herbs, and in South Texas, they can always be found among the prickly pear cactus.

On this particular day, I had noticed the bountiful prickly pear blooms and wanted to capture that vivid yellow color in my photograph. I searched for the green lynx among the flowers, knowing that green on yellow would make an excellent color combination. It didn’t take long to spot this young spider walking among the blooms so I began to photograph it from various angles. The early morning sun had risen towards the spider’s hind legs so I positioned the flash to my left, which would illuminate the spider’s head/face at approximately a 45degree angle. This was my primary light source. Shooting in Av mode, I chose a setting of f18 to capture as much detail as possible in the flower and spider. I selectively focused on the spider, which is where the eye first goes when viewing the image. The result was exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for.

Green Lynx Spider On Prickly Pear Bloom. Canon 1DMkII, ef 180/3.5 macro lens, ISO 400, f18, 550ex flash at -1. Click on image for a better view.

On a personal note, I like the delicateness of the flower petals, along with the details in both the petals and the spider itself. The spider was placed in the upper right “rule of thirds” intersection, leading into the frame. The real bonus, which I was unaware I had captured until I reviewed the image on the computer, was the illuminated web trailing the spider’s hind end.

Until next time, Keep Shooting… – Kevin

ImageSpotlight: Spotted Sandpiper

It’s winter-time and that means many species of waterfowl and other shorebirds are migrating in the lower Rio Grande Valley. On a very overcast and windy day this past weekend, I ventured out to what is quickly becoming my favorite public place to photograph, Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, Texas. I knew I could get some good shorebird/waterfowl shots off of the boardwalk near the headquarters so I made a slow and quiet approach to a spot where the action was good. Of course, during my approach everything moved further away but I picked my spot, dropped to a prone position and patiently waited, knowing they’d return. Soon after, this lone spotted sandpiper made it’s way, foraging on the ground.

The spotted sandpiper is known for its constant nodding and teetering movements as it forages. In order to avoid blur from its constant movement, I knew I would need a fast shutter speed. Given the overcast light, I chose a wide open aperture of f/4.5 in order obtain the fastest possible shutter speed, knowing this would also render a very nice blurred background.

Spotted Sandpiper | Canon 1DMkII | ef 500/4.5 | ISO 400 | f/4.5 | 1/1250

On a personal note, I like the soft light and warm colors in this photograph and I particularly like the raised foot which provides a sense of motion in the image. It can be uncomfortable laying on your belly for long periods of time, but the shots are sure worth it. Click on the image for a higher resolution view.

Until next time, keep shooting,  – Kevin