Saturday, July 19, 2008

Camera Critters: Whitetail Fawns and Hummingbird Moth

Today was an exceptional day for photographing whitetail fawns with excellent encounters in both the morning and evening.

I got the Canon 40D back from repair yesterday afternoon. According to the repair report: They replaced the shutter assembly, cover assembly top and window display, adjusted exposure and focus, cleaned C-mos to factory specs. Updated the firmware. Checked all.

At first all seemed well as I put the camera through its' paces, but then I mounted it on the 500mm F4 and tripod. In this case, I prefer to use a cabled remote release to fire the camera.
I attached the release, pressed the button and there was no response. A quick trial on the 30D confirmed the release was working. Just to double check, I borrowed Salty's release and tried it with the 40D with the same results.

Bottom line, about two weeks without the camera and I'm still not home free, so it turned out it was a wise decision to buy the 30D for a backup camera. To be truthful I like the 30D so much that I feel no loss at being without the 40D. I just hate the hassle of prepping it for repair again.

I do miss the larger and brighter LCD display of the 40D and the fact that it displays the ISO setting in the finder at all times, but when it comes to overall ease of operation and picture quality I still think the 30D is a formidable contender.

Whitetail Fawn: Canon 30D-500mm F4 1/100 sec. f4 ISO 400

The fawns are spending less time hiding now and are traveling about grazing more, so they are easier to see than a few weeks ago. They have also gotten much larger.

Whitetail Fawn: Canon 30D-300mm F4 1/100 sec. f4.5 ISO 400

After photographing fawns this morning, I spent some time in the wildlife meadow with the 500mm lens and a short extension tube, to enable it to focus closer. I was mostly looking for butterflies and did have some success, but I was excited to get my first decent capture of a Hummingbird Moth.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth: Canon 30D-500mm F4 1/6400 sec. f5.6 ISO 200

These moths are easily confused with a hummingbird from a distance as their flight pattern is much the same.

For more camera critters photos, visit Misty Dawn.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sky Watch Friday-Summer Brings Dramatic Scenic and Flower Photo Opportunities

Canon 30-D: 17mm-40mm F4 at 17mm ISO 200

One of my favorite summer activities is a walk in the backcountry on a clear morning. It is best to be afield before sunrise and in position to catch the sun coming over the mountains. The owner of this area does rent a portion of his farm to a commercial farmer and the foreground of the photograph above is an area that was sprayed in preparation for planting a crop, but for whatever reason, nothing was planted or if it was it did not grow.

The owner is however, a dedicated naturalist and makes certain that a significant portion of his land is undisturbed so that meadow wildflowers may be found in abundance.

I had the 100mm f2.8 macro lens along, but decided to forgo the inconvenience of changing lenses, as the wildflowers I found today were large enough to make pleasing images with the 500mm.

Both are members of the morning glory family and are considered weeds. They are undesirable when they invade ornamentals as they are vines that twist around host plants and "take over" thereby destroying the desired plants.

With that being said, both are beautiful wildflowers and are harmless in an area such as a natural meadow.

Wild Sweet Potato: Canon 30-D-500mmF4 1/400 sec f8 ISO 100

Hedge Bindweed: Canon 30-D- 500mmF4 1/125 sec f 11 ISO 100

A stunning sunset is always a fitting conclusion to a day afield!

Canon 30-D: 17mm-40mm F4 at 27mm 1/200 sec f8 ISO 200

For more sky watch photos visit Sky Watch at its' own website this week. I don't know quite how it works yet and I am posting early so nothing is up yet, but the other sky watcher's photos should be up by mid to late afternoon eastern daylight savings time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Better Way To Spend A Spring Morning?

Fulton County, is located in the south central part of Pennsylvania and borders the state of Maryland to the south. It is quite small with a land area of 435 square miles and is about fifteen miles wide and twenty-nine miles long. It is one of the few counties in the state to only have one District Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO). In Pennsylvania, WCOs may be assisted by a Deputy force. Larger counties may have two or more districts.

Wildlife matters are very important in this rural county and at one time it had one of the largest deputy forces in the state. At the time of this story there were seven of us.

In most cases, a training meeting was held each month, at which important events, which were coming up in the near future would be discussed and a plan of action formulated. Deputies were technically volunteers, but were re-reimbursed for a certain amount of service each year. As such, most WCOs gave them extreme latitude in what they were expected to do.

My brother "Salty" and I were lawn enforcement oriented, and worked with the understanding that we would attend required training, but would do little public relations work and little field work during the spring and summer. We would be very active in the fall;
working a heavy weekend night patrol schedule along with mounting several daytime foot patrols into areas were violations were rampant.

We were well know as the "Hill Brothers" or "The Hill Boys" and were hated by the outlaw element in our area, and respected by the true sportsmen.

I initially started in this field because I was a hunter and disliked the outlaw element shooting the big bucks before season and I must say that at that stage I also liked the excitement. In time I found that my views had changed. I no longer hunted and had turned into a wildlife advocate.

At some point in time The Game Commission adopted a "Red Tag" program under which antlerless deer could be shot by properly licensed hunters at other times of the year than the traditional deer seasons. This was a tightly regulated program designed to assist farmers, who met certain criteria to utilize sportsmen in dealing with crop damage. In light of my outlook on wildlife at the time and my commitment to working in the fall, I did not assist with administering this program.

Many of the details about the program are hazy, but I well remember attending a meeting in late winter or early spring where the WCO informed us that Red Tag season was coming in soon. I am not sure of the exact time frame, but I do recall that it was not in effect while the fawns were being born. It was in while the does were visibly pregnant. It seems that this was the first year that youth were being allowed to participate with adult supervision and perhaps the first that it came in this early in the year.

One of the deputies piped up "What better way to spend a fine spring morning than to take a youth doe hunting". I said under my breath, yet loud enough for the entire room to hear, "yeah teach him to shoot pregnant does! This was in a bitter tone of voice and you could have heard a pin drop after I made the remark! After the meeting I lingered and apologized to the WCO for being so blunt, but he was quite honest and said that what I had uttered was the truth.

There are better things to do on a fine spring morning!

Whitetail doe in advanced state of pregnancy

Now I must admit that I can see both sides to a story or in most cases, several sides to a story. Deer can be extremely destructive and may cause devastating crop damage to a farmer who is already having trouble making ends meet, without the deer damage also subtracting from his bottom line.

I did not LIKE persons shooting deer for crop damage, but I did see how it was necessary in some instances. I did not and do not see how that taking a youth out in that time frame to shoot a deer and calling it hunting was a positive thing to do. If one thought they had to do it, it should at least be presented from the viewpoint that this is not a nice thing to do, but the deer are a problem in this area and we are trying to help the farmer solve his problem.

In most cases shooting a doe in late winter or early spring is very cost effective in controlling deer populations as unless the doe is barren, she will have one to two fawns. In effect one is killing two to three deer with one shot!

Whitetail fawn: 1 1/2 months old

There are many beautiful and great aspects to the outdoors and working in wildlife conservation, but there are also situations to which there is no pleasant answer. This is one of those that left a bad taste in my mouth so as to speak and was another milestone in developing my current views on wildlife and wildlife management!