Christmas message 2017

It hardly seems a few months since my last Christmas message, but here we are, the year is winding down .
For some of us the cold is creeping in, others the heat is blowing us away, either way for us mad photographers, regardless of the season, each holds its own beauty and we are compelled to capture it.
For me Christmas is a time to remember that God incarnated Himself into His own creation. He did this so He could identify with us and our struggles and to help us overcome life’s hurdles. He went on to eventually experience death on a cross after living the perfect life and defeat it on our behalf. This opens the way  for us to fellowship with Him and share His new life for all eternity if we come to Him as a Father to forgive us our sins and walk with Him through this thing we call life.
Jesus is the ultimate Christmas gift to mankind.

For me the huge blessings this year has been the people God  bought into my life.
Some were just passing through, others will become life long friends, others may become much more and most somewhere in between.
I want to thank those who have hired me over the year to share with you my passion and to help me realise my dream of teaching and encouraging people to get the best out of their gear and to really look at things and life with deliberate intention.
Photography can be much, much, more than just clicking the shutter. it can change the way you see light, colour and life itself, if you let it.
Photography can stop you in your tracks and make you pay close attention to what is going on around you. It can force you to enjoy and live in the moment, something God has been impressing on me this year. God is not the,  (I was), or the  (I will be) , but identifies Himself as the I AM.
I also want to say a great big thankyou to all the members of my Facebook Group New Zealand bird image share 
Our group has grown to over 1,000 members now and is a dynamic community where people can post their bird images, both New Zealand birds and those from over seas  and share their excitement or disappointment.
We have a theme for every day of the week as well as post what ever bird you feel like.
The place is buzzing, exciting and inspiring for people at all levels of expertise.

Again A great big THANKYOU to you peoples for making the group such a success. ❤

November report

November was yet another super busy month with myself on a personal quest to get a good shot of the Black Fronted Dotterel  or little bandits as I call them because they have a natural mask.

Remain standing up and all you will see of these birds is them at a distance .
But get down on your tummy, lie flat and try and make yourself look half pie hidden and they can not resist coming in close just to let you know that they are on to you.

By Lying down, often the bandits come close to check out what you are up too.

 

The chick magnet thingie

November is chickie time, not human female chickie time,  but birdie chickie time.
The Wading birds on our coasts start laying their eggs and raising their young

The promise of things to come.

A Female tūturiwhatu or Banded Dotterel on her nest.

 

Thus the month started off with an irresistible pull to monitor and eventually photograph the next generation of birds.

Being an expectant Banded Dotterel is not for the faint hearted  out on the exposed sand spit at Waikanae  frequent sand storms make life very uncomfortable for days on end .
Dotterels are forced to face into the wind to prevent sand from getting in between the feathers at the root level and damaging the structure so with eyeballs dripping with watery sand, they face the onslaught and patiently await the arrival of their young.

There is no respite for this poor Banded Dotteral, she must face into the wind and meet it head on.

Remember to always clean your camera when you come back home from the beach.

Meantime I had a workshop back in the forest  where the sand does not go.

This is mr tīeke the Saddleback, once seldom seen but because of the tireless work of a few they are making a huge comeback on the mainland of New Zealand.

tīeke or North Island Saddleback. These birds are very active and noisy .

 

The Cock Pheasants are still out strutting around showing off to the girls.

A really nice Cock Pheasant strutting his stuff.

 

Back to the beach

One of two New Zealand Dotterel, the first ever recorded this far south on the western side of the North Island  Waikanae 2017. May we get more of these rare birds down here in the future.

 

and eventually they arrive, the Dotterel Chicks, the moment we have all waited for

tūturiwhatu the Banded Dotterel

Not much bigger than a thumb nail
But within a few short weeks he wants to push his Dad around.

Rugby training with junior.

The Oyster Catches nest along side the Dotterels

tōrea the Variable oystercatcher nesting on a hot November day at the beach.

All in all a great year thanks to the many peoples  I have in my life.
Esp the Dotterel Crusaders group that we use to keep each other up to date with life out on the spit, Steve for being a great mate, Rosie for helping me with my website and encouraging me into seeking God on a deeper level, Danger Mouse for keeping me on my toes and Kath my week day companion.

Have a great Christmas  peoples .

May next year be an exciting one. ❤

 

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The heat shimmer blue’s

We are now into the beginning of Summer , for those of us who are now busy chasing after those birds that breed and raise families on our beaches and estuaries , our old enemy heat shimmer has raised its ugly head.
Once you hit a focal length of 300 mils and above, heat shimmer starts to play a major, if not the dominate role in robbing us of our beloved detail we all crave in our images.
Many of us love to get down low and shoot at the bird at about its head height as this often gives the most pleasing pose. Sadly this is where most of the heat is being bounced off the hot surface back into the air, this is where  heat shimmer is most apparent.
Sadly, often we cannot see the mirage effect through the view finder, esp if we are close to our subject and everything looks fine until you get home and load your beloved images into your favourite image processing program and desperation descends on you as you frantically search your images for one single sharp one.

So what does heat shimmer look like ?

One word of warning here. most times you will NOT see the heat distortion through the view finder, everything can look just dandy and pin sharp, but don’t be deceived the heat monster lurks.

Posted here is our model Mr Steve Wass demonstrating how heat shimmer robs us of clarity and detail and distorting the entire image.

The closer you are to the ground the more heat distortion effects your image.

Notice the worst of it is close to the ground and in the far background, so the closer you are to the ground and more distance between you and your subject the more heat shimmer effect will be visible.

So what does it look like.

This image below is an extreme example, nothing is pin sharp even though the bird was very close.
I was low to the sand which was rising slightly between the Dotterel and myself  resulting in nothing being in perfect focus.

tūturiwhatu the Banded Dotterel in a heat haze..

A long range shot.
The Kingston Flyer out of Queenstown on a hot summer morning.

The Kingston Flyer on a hot Central Otago morning.

 

Next to hot sand, grass has to be the next worse reflector .
Even on a cool day here, the grass robbed me of sharp detail on this Hawk.  Because grass has a shiny surface  this makes for a great heat reflector notice the effects further back in the image, the characteristic blotchy, squiggly, chaotic, mess instead of a smooth out of focus background, nothing is sharp in the image.

kahu the swamp harrier, spoilt by the evil heat haze.

 

Sometimes heat shimmer looks cool but mostly it makes you want to say bad, bad,  bad words.

 

So what can we do about it ?

1. Shoot only in early morning is your best chance of avoiding the heat shimmer demon , even late evening  wont be enough to cool sand down.

2. Avoid  shooting from a low position when it warms up.

3  Go swimming and take up sun bathing over summer without a camera.

4. Try opening up your aperture as wide as you can.
Common wisdom says the least depth of field  or depth of focus  the less chance you have of distortion  ruining your image.
I have found this never work’s for me but perhaps you will have better luck.

5. windy days have less surface heat but no guarantees, the same goes for over water.

Head for the water on hot days as sometimes the water is cool enough to combat the heat devil.
This Black fronted dotterel was reasonably sharp for a very hot afternoon.

6 .  Get up early in the morning and shoot  when the light is best anyway  is the best remedy  then go swimming snooze or sunbath.

Bless you guys and gals heaps.