Thursday, April 30, 2009

Common Coot

This slaty dark bird, the size of a hen is called the Eurasian Coot in England and Common coot in India ( Fulica atra). The bird is entirely blackish grey with a highly contrasting white shield on the face. Their population in India swells up during winters, when birds from central Asia and west Asia migrate and land up here.
The bird is a reluctant flier and if it has to fly a short distance with skitter along the water half running half flying. The bird is eaten in some parts of India thought westerners may not like the fishy taste and not hunted for this reason.
The sun had set when I was photographing this and I was not able to get a good exposure the get the details around the eye, the dark colour too did not help. ISO: 400

Monday, April 27, 2009

Great White Pelican

These beauties are the Great white Pelicans ( Pelecanus onocrotalus) and were photographed at St. James park in London. They are also found in India as partly resident and partly winter visitors. If you closely look at the first photograph two of the birds have pinkish hue and one is white with black wing tips, the pinkish hue is acquired during breeding season.
These are massive birds as big as 6 feet and wing span of 10 feet, when you first look at a Pelican you can even doubt if this bird can fly. In spite of its massive size the bird is a graceful flier and like most other birds "Born to Fly".
The bones of the birds are so completely adapted to the need to conserve weight in flight that a bird's feathers usually weigh more than its entire skeleton. The bones are hollow, braced by internal struts and honey combed with air sacs. The sacs are connected to the lungs so that during flight air flows through them, speeding the supply of oxygen to the body tissues. Even the beak is made to save weight, instead of being made of bone, it is made of lightweight horn and contains no teeth. The bird weighs about 10-15 kg, even thought its size is that of a human its weight is just 1/5th, perfect for flight.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Egyptian Goose

The Egyptian Goose ( Alopochen aegyptiacus) is a African bird which was introduced into Britain and is today commonly found in most of its parks.
The bird was sacred to the ancient Egyptian and I spotted it at Diana memorial in London.
Because of the distinctive brown eye patch this goose is easy to identify.
If you notice the photograph closely you can see that the body of the bird is come sharper than the face, this is because, I focused on the body, instead of the face ( The head was bobbing while the body was steady making it a easier target) a fundamental error, but I was helpless, the bird flew as soon as it spotted me.
Sony A350 , 200mm lens, f/4.5

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tufted Pochard

This Tufted Pochard, Aythya fuligula is a drake and is difficult to locate. The bird has highly contrasting black and white plumage. The bird is a Winter visitor to India and breeds in Europe and Central Asia. This duck is a diving duck, a group which is distinguished by the possession of a broadly lobed hind toe. Its legs are set far back in the body and hence not very well suited for walking, but this makes them superb swimmers and divers. They spend considerable time under water and once this duck has dived, expect a long wait for it to resurface. The bird also migrates to America during winters.

The dark head of the bird was difficult to photograph, since the bird was constantly swimming a long exposure meant a blurred photo. After about 40 attempts I managed to get a relatively stationery pose and the G spot for the exposure was the black back of the bird.
I tried metering the head, but it was so dark that the shutter speed was too slow to freeze the bird.
Sony A-350, 200mm , f/4.5 , 1/800 sec . The image was photographed in RAW format, hence post processing I increased the exposure level by 1ev, without any introduction of noise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Common Moorhen

Nearly a Year ago I had a Post on Purple Moorhen this one is the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). Although this is a common bird in India, this one was photographed in London. Here in India the bird rarely comes out in the open like this and is very happy to be within reeds of marshes. Since this bird is distributed nearly all around the globe, its name too has been varied.
Its walk seems like a sulking one but is very elegant when in water.
Feeds on worms, mollusks , insects ,grains and certain marsh plants.

Both the photographs were shot with spot metering , although for the first one matrix metering too would have done a commendable job. Matrix metering works well most of the times, especially when there are varying tones in one frame. But when concerned with a small area of the frame, or when shooting dark images in bright background, centre averaged or spot metering works best. Though I find that with Spot metring, one needs to click lots of photographs metered at various points on the frame.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Canada Goose

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is the most familiar and common of all goose. The bird is basically an American one and was introduced in Britain about 300 years ago and is today found all over UK. The bird easily approached me and was happy to eat bread when I hand fed it. It was a first time experience to feed a bird and the snapping beak does hurt, even though they have no teeth.
This one is not found in India, unlike other birds that I had mentioned earlier.

For this Photograph I tried to meter and focus on the bright part of the beak, which has a tiny water droplet, I wanted that drop to be in sharp focus.
Sony A350; 200mm , f/4.5, ISO 100

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Common Pochard - Female

My previous post was on the same bird, but this Pochard is a female. The females have a rufous brown head but this one had a more or less reddish hue to it. Like I mentioned previously though this bird is found in India, this one was photographed in London. They are found abundantly in the North of India but very sparse in the south.

Metering : Most of the cameras today have 3 modes of metering - Spot ,centre Averaged spot and matrix metering. The spot meter takes into consideration just the centre of the frame to determine exposure. The Centre averaged gives maximum weight to the central 40 to 60 percent, while matrix metering , measures each section of the frame individually, eliminates those sectors that are difficult to judge, compares the image to its on board reference images and arrives at a exposure level.When I photograph Wildlife, I mostly use Spot metering or Centre Averaged spot metering. My intention is to get the subject properly exposed for all its details. The background comes next. The Sony A350 I use has an additional feature of D-range optimization, which is very handy when photographing subjects with well lit background. The camera determines such scenes and brings out details in the shadows.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Common Pochard

This Duck , is found in India too although this one was photographed in London. It is a Winter visitor to India and the ones that come here never let me approach them this close.
This Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) is a male and are generally found in large flocks. The forage by diving and feed on aquatic plants , small fish and mollusc's.
The light was not very good when I was photographing the bird and I clicked lots of photographs on spot metering mode and metered every colour on the bird. Just one of the 10 photographs got metered properly.
Its best to photograph ducks when they have just come out of water from a dive, the body will be covered with tiny water droplets that give the photograph a nice look.

Sony A-350 / 200mm lense. ISO-200, f/5.6 , 1/320 , RAW image