Tag Archives: osprey

Migrating Birds in Cape May NJ

Visiting Cape May is always fun.  In the Fall the birds migrate through by the thousands.
The flock of Black Skimmers are along the beach near the Arcade or west of there often.

Black Skimmers

A storm passing at sunset made for a dramatic image.

Stormy Sunset

This tiny little turtle was crossing the path at The Nature Conservancy’s Meadows – I was struck buy his tiny form, and potential big future ahead – if he could survive the challenges and overcome all the obstacles.

tell me about Your struggle

Another creature with challenges ahead was this young Osprey.  It was hunting for and catching small fish in the patch of ocean behind the meadows / east of the State Park.

Juv. Osprey @ Cape May NJ

This image was pleasing to me – it shows the power of the ocean, the unity of the skimmer flock, their joint fate.

Black Skimmers and Surf

The hawk banding demos are good times to see the birds up close and some times get a good image.  This was taken on a Saturday at 11:30am at The Meadows where they do a demo / talk.  There are also demos at the State Park next to the hawk watch platform, on  Saturday and Sunday at 10am (roughly September and October).

Cooper's Hawk

See more image in my Flickr set – Cape May NJ.

Nikon D500 – photos and camera info

I’ve had my D500 since about May of 2016, about 2 years.  In that time I’ve taken about 100,000 photos with it.  I use a tool called Bulk Rename Utility during my import process and have a saved profile for the renaming and I add digits to the file name and it’s up to 100,000+ now.

Gone Fishing

Two for One

The camera itself is great, up to 10 frames per second, a ton of focus points farther out to the edge of the frame than past cameras. I like the XQD (?) card option, though I wish you could use 2 at once instead of having the second slot be for an SD card. To me the SD cards are all too thin and flimsy and prone to breaking. I’ve had one break on me and I lost images while in Wyoming. That sucked.

Signs of Spring

Feeding Time

For birds I primarily use the Nikon 600mm f/4 lens along with the D500 – I got the lens used (not on Amazon) and saved a bunch, but it had some wear and tear on it.  Generally I am hard on my gear and after a while I realized that for me buying all new stuff wasn’t worth it.  Especially with lenses, after a few months they’re not pristine anymore and I could have saved a bunch.  I bought my last car used for the same reason.  The car’s great, and already comes broken in (with a ding or two, so no need to worry about it).

The D500 at 20 MPs on a crop/DX sensor seems like a lot.  I remember my first Nikon DSLR was the D70s at just 6MPs, then the D200 had 10MPs and the D300/300s has 12 MPs.  Compared to those 20MPs seems like a ton!  And it is a lot, I can still crop to reframe some and have lots of image left to work with.  For wildlife and bird photography you basically have to crop – because lenses are not of infinite mm’s and you can’t always zoom more with your feet.  At some point you can’t get closer so to make an image more appealing to view, cropping has to be done.

The way I setup the camera to shoot with the D500 is roughly this:

  • Manual exposure mode for shutter speed and f/stop
  • AUTO-ISO so ISO will vary and rise and fall depending on the scene
  • Exposure compensation set to get proper exposure (needed because manual exposure + auto-iso results in ISO fluctuating and exposure no longer behaving like it normally does in manual mode)
  • AF-C – focus mode set to continuously update and track moving subjects
  • remap the DoF preview button to the in viewfinder virtual horizon
  • Set the “exposure adjustment” to -3/6. This is found in the menu at b7.

I didn’t use the DoF preview button much, and I find that I tend to hold the camera in a way that’s not level, I just seem to always have a little tilt in my hands, or my head, or tripod, or idk – if there’s an horizon it’s not level.  So being able to turn on the 2 little angle displays for vertical and horizontal angles is super helpful.

The exposure “adjustment setting” (menu item b7) is used to change what the exposure is when the camera is at EV0, or the base, starting exposure.  I have found that for the D500, D810 and D850, they tend to over-expose images based on how I like to shoot.  Also, these newer cameras allow for the RAW image to be adjusted up in exposure easily without much of a problem.  However as with all cameras when things are over-exposed there’s a limit to how much can be recovered.  By making the camera shoot slightly darker, I have a little cushion.  When it comes to processing the images, I use an import preset in Lightroom, and that includes an exposure adjustment of +.25.  The result is the camera shoots a 1/2 stop dark, and in post I brighten the image a 1/4 stop.  I can remove this and be back at -3/6 or -.5 of a stop if a particular image needs it.

When I’m not shooting birds and wildlife, I change the rear “focus” button to be the AE/AF Lock function.  The small jog style button on the back does this normally, but because it wobbles so easily it doesn’t actually hold a lock for me when I am actively shooting and I need a normal style button.  This setup allows me to shoot in AF-C and then lock focus/exposure with the button and reframe the image to a different composition.

For file naming, my standard is to change the DSC_nnnn to instead include the camera model number, which would be something like 500_nnnn.  Then in the BRU utility I mentioned at the start, I rename the files to be [date]_[camera-model]_[nn]nnnn.NEF.  A file would then be like this once renamed after offloading – 2017_1104_D500_097416.NEF.  The BRU tool lets you save a profile, and I have one per camera and increment the profile each time I’ve taken another 10,000 images since the camera only goes up to 9999.  I store the profiles on dropbox so I can access them from my laptop or desktop which works well if I happen to be editing images on a trip and not while home with my desktop PC.

Osprey Family @ St. Michaels, Maryland

The above image was taken with a D500 and 600mm lens on a tripod (probably with a wireless remote trigger).  I have found that in many cases the male osprey will circle the nest with a fish but then fly away if I am close or watching.  They know, they sense this and within some distance will fly away and wait.  I took a bunch without a remote trigger and then re-positioned the camera closer, with the remote, set the camera to manual focus mode and framed up the nest and backed off.  I think this was with the remote but I’m not 100% sure.  This location is a pier on the eastern shore of Maryland and the nest is ~90 feet from land.  I especially like this image and the sequence because it has the entire family – both adults and all 3 chicks.  This was taken in mid July in 2016 on a very hot day.

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Favorite Osprey Photos

Photographing osprey is one of my favorite things to do.  Seeing the full cycle of returning from migration, nest building, mating, incubating, and then hatching, feeding and eventually fledging and utimately migrating again is so rich in animal behaviors and photographic opportunities.

This is one of my early images (2006), taken near Reagan National Airport from a boat.  I struck up a conversation with a local guy at the marina and he offered a ride some day, and I asked if we could do it right then and he said ok.  He had a small aluminum skiff.

Osprey Closeup//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This is probably my favorite osprey image of all time (2011), taken at a private location where the nest is fairly close to land and the birds were relatively used to people being nearby.  So the adult female would chirp a bit and then be at ease again if I approached.

MD Osprey Love//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This image is from Maine (2011) at a great local secret spot.

Maine Osprey//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This one is from the same nest as my favorite image, where the female was feeding the 3 chicks (2011). I like how you can see all their eyes and the little chunk of fish being fed to the chick.

Me Next!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This is a migratory osprey seen in Cape May New Jersey in 2016.  I think the bird is so well lit due to the Fall sun angle combined with the sandy beach and light being reflected up.

This back at my favorite spot and I love seeing the mom and chick sitting together in the nest.

Osprey Chick & Mom//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This image was unique to me, the first time I had seen this.  The osprey’s brood patch is visible, where she removed some feathers so she can better incubate the eggs. This is from near Annapolis Maryland.

Finally here are 2 more nesting images from out by Easton Maryland.  Both are nests with chicks that are maybe going to fledge in a few weeks.

Wet mom (2012) returns to the nest, with chicks trying to be flat, and hidden.

And lastly, an image I drove to a spot specifically hoping to see this shading behavior on a day that was 95 degrees or more (2016).


Happy New Year