Apple Tree

Yellow Rumped Warbler (1)
Yellow Rumped Warbler: ISO 640, 360mm, f/5.6, 1/1000

It has been awhile since I last updated my journal. When I started this project I wanted to post at least once a week. It seems now I am lucky to post at least once a month. Life is racing by and I have little time for my passion of photography. I have to make a conscious effort to not let this happen. I have to remember why I love spending time with my cameras.

The above image is such an example of why I must make this time.

Last month (September) Blue Jays were coming to my backyard feeders carrying away food for fall. Blue Jays love to hide food almost anywhere including compost heaps, eavestroughs, planters etc. I grabbed my cameras and sat on the deck by the feeder waiting for these big birds to return for more food.

As I waited patiently I started snapping shots of the other birds playing in the backyard. First, it was the common house sparrows. Then a chickadee fluttered back and forth from the trees to the feeder. Then I noticed a moving patch of yellow in the apple tree. I quickly focused and got a shot of this bird.

When new birds come to the backyard I usually want to get reference pictures so that I can identify them later with my Peterson Field Guide. I don’t want to scare the bird so as you can see my zoom is out quite away (360mm). I am hand holding the camera as birds tend to move about rapidly. To get the fast shutter speed I have to turn the ISO up. The picture isn’t the sharpest under these conditions but I usually have enough good snap shots to be able to identify the new visitor.

From my research in the Peterson Field Guide and Google I came to the conclusion this was a Yellow Rumped Warbler. I posted this image on Flickr and had one of my contacts confirm that I identified this bird correctly.

I am excited by these new finds. I live within a 10 minute walk to downtown of a city with close to 92,000 people. The backyard is like an oasis in this busy city. I must take the time to stop and marvel at the sights and not let life get too busy for my passions.


Mating Dance 1: ISO 200, 200mm, F/4, 1/1000



Mating Dance 2: ISO 200, 200mm, f/4, 1/1000

House Sparrows love our neighbourhood. They love the trees and the food everyone leaves out for them.

Watching them over the years you get used to their quirky behaviour. Once and awhile you will notice a male showing off to a female by keeping his chest low, wings down, and tail up going into some sort of dance that resembles an epileptic seizure. When I see it, I tell my wife the sparrows are "chicken dancing."

The camera doesn't quite capture it. I will have to carry my little Kodak Playsport around with me more often to try to capture video.

Waxwings, Chris Bates, Photography, nature, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
The Invasion: ISO 320, 200mm, f/8, 1/90

On my way home from work today I noticed the neighbour's crab apple tree was covered with a blanket of Waxwings. I finished my drive home, parked the car in the garage, ran into the house, said hello to my wife, headed downstairs to grab the camera, said I will be back to my wife and then walked to the end of the alley to get some pics of the birds and tree.

I was able to get quite close to these birds. A passerby by said to me that he heard the birds get a little intoxicated by the fermented apples so maybe that is why they are not as skitish as usual.

Click here to see a larger version of this picture.


Shadow Veins: ISO 80, 23mm, f/6.3, 1/1000

This shot was taken around noon today. As you can see by the long shadows the sun is still low in the southern horizon. It is abnormally cold for February.

This is the time of year I trim the branches of our apple trees. However, with the windchills in the -30 to -40 Celcius range I have not had the ambition to go out and prune.

Leaf, Fall, Nature, Apple Tree, Chris Bates, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, Photography
Last Leaf: ISO 200, 50mm, f/5, 1/320

Our colourful apple tree has lost all of it's leaves. I am sharing with you a photo taken last week of a leaf that is not willing to let go.

What is really weird is that the neighbour's Mountain Ash and our crabapple tree that is below it still have many green leaves. The background of this photo is the Mountain Ash's green leaves and orange/red berries. The majority of the other trees on our block are barren. It's quite odd.

Chris Bates Photography, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, Nature, Apple Tree, Leaves, Fall, Colour
Up in Flames at Night: ISO 200, 24mm, f/5.6, 8.0s

I have read about painting your subjects with LED lights and wondered how hard is it to do. Well, I tried it the other night on our apple tree with all the different coloured leaves.

I set the camera on a tripod since I was playing with long exposures. The shutter stayed open for 8 seconds on this shot. In order for the camera to focus I had to shine my flashlight on a spot on the tree for the autofocus to find its mark. I also set the camera to take the shot 10 seconds after I pressed the shutter release. You can also use a remote or a cable shutter release (I don't have either for my Canon 40D) .

I set up my flash/strobe on a second tripod away from the camera and pointed it at the inside of a white umbrella. I thought that bouncing the light of the flash/strobe would illuminate the tree more effectively than directly pointing the flash/strobe at the tree.

I also warned my wife that if any neighbours come knocking on our door asking about crazy lights going off in the backyard it was me playing with the flashlight and camera.

Once I heard the shutter open (After the 10 Second delay) I then "painted" the tree with my LED Flashlight. After experimenting with a few different motions (Up/down, Side to Side) and different speeds I got a few shots I thought would work. It was hard to tell in the dark looking at the little screen on the back of the camera especially when my eyes were adjusting to brightness then darkness.

Before I started I had envisioned that it would isolate the apple tree from the distractions behind it (neighbour's motorhome, our white fence etc.) The finished project came pretty close to what I envisioned. I chose this one to show you.


Chris Bates Photography, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, nature, leaves, fall, colour, apple tree
Up in Flames: ISO 100, 18mm, f/6.3, 1/50

Our apple tree surprised us this fall. We have never seen it have this much colour at the end of a season. It usually turns yellow and a little orange. This year most of the leaves have turned red. As you can see they are also hanging on to the branches a little longer so that we can admire her beauty.

I have my circular polarizer on to help saturate the colours in the leaves and sky.



Hidden Camera in Apple Tree: ISO 200, 90mm, f/8, 1/250


Kodak Playsport and Joby Gorillapod: ISO 200, 90mm, f/8, 1/350

Today I thought I would share with you how I captured the Baby Wren videos I posted earlier this month.

I had been on the look out for a durable point and shoot camera that could take Time Lapse photos and then along came the Kodak Playsport pocket, memory card, HD video recorder. Some of the other blogs I read regularly have talked about the video quality of this little pocket recorder and the low price. The camera is also waterproof up to 10 feet and supposedly shockproof (Which I will not test on purpose). However, it does not do the Time Lapse I had been after.

The only pocket camera I could find that did Time Lapse, was waterproof, and did HD Video had a considerably high price and only got average reviews for image and video quality. So, when a local store had the Kodak Playsport on sale and with an added bonus of a free spare battery I took the plunge.

The video from this camera is quite good in my opinion and easy to upload to YouTube. The only flaw I seen in my Wren videos was that I had the camera too close to the bird house and the focus isn't quite as sharp as it should be. Inside the crab apple tree, it was also quite dark as the tree is heavily leaved. But the end result was what I wanted. Watching the birds without causing too much stress on them and able to share this with my readers.

I attached the camera to a Joby Gorillapod that I had gotten a few years ago. I have used it before to give me a steady mount low to the ground for some macro shots with my regular camera and have used it to mount my flash/strobe off camera and attach it to the legs of my tripod. With the hidden camera I actually used the Gorillapod for what it is good at, attaching itself to tree branches, fence posts and anything else it can wrap its legs around and give your camera a unique point of view.

I attached the Gorillapod to one of the many branches in the tree faced the camera towards the bird house and then turned the camera on and went off to do other things. You have seen clips from the end result.

The only drawback to the Kodak Playsport is the battery life is pretty short. I got about 40 minutes of 720p recording out of full charged battery. So, I am glad I got the free spare battery with my purchase.

Update to Coming Out



As promised, the video of a baby wren falling out of its nest. I am also posting below a shorter clip of the wren coming back and hanging on a leaf. The baby wrens have no real tail yet.

Reaching Out


Mother Nature's Hand: ISO 200, 90mm, f/10, 1/80

The rains have not let up for the last couple of days. I haven't taken my camera gear out as I do not have a rain jacket for them.

Here is a shot taken last week of a branch of our apple tree. It will have to do until the rains stop.

Centre of the Universe


Sun Shines Brightly: ISO 200, 90mm, f/6.3, 1/80

This is a macro shot of our crabapple tree blossoms.

The image reminds me of our brightly shinning sun with planets orbiting around it.

Apple Blossoms


Crabapple Bokeh: ISO 400, 270mm, f/8, 1/500

Skyward Apple Blossoms: ISO 100, 35mm, f/8, 1/400

Our two apple trees are blooming.

The crabapple has the nicest looking flowers of our two trees with the dark pink buds which open to reveal a light pink flower. The apple tree has the nicest tasting apples of the two. The buds from the apple tree are light pink which open up to a pure white bloom.

Gotcha!


Cedar Waxwing in Apple Tree: ISO 400, 380mm, f/8, 1/350



Waxwing Drinking: ISO 400, 380mm, f/8, 1/350

At long last I caught Cedar Waxwings in our yard!

It has been an unusually dry spring here. The bird bath has been a key attraction in our yard. The Cedar Waxwings have been in the Mountin Ash eating berries still on the tree from last year and then coming down for a drink.

I have spotted them the last few days but I was always in the house and when I go outside they flee. This morning I was working in the gardens and I guess they got used to me not being a threat and I was able to get some quick shots off.

Frozen


It is still snowing. Leaves never had a chance to change colour on most of the trees in our neighbourhood including our crabapple tree.

Goldfinch Spotted

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Nothing Says Spring Like Apple Blossoms

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