Wednesday, December 30, 2009

White Wagtail

The wagtails walk a lot with an aristocratic air which is a great pleasure to watch. This White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) landed on board and was fascinated by a big dead insect, which later it began feeding upon. I sat next to the dead insect, and this bird did not mind me intruding on its lunch. It was a good chance to photograph this bird at such a close range.
The White wagtail has many subspecies, and subtle variations in colouring may be seen based on the birds geographical location. The bird is pretty well distributed in India too, although this particular one was sighted in the Eastern Mediterranean.
One trait that I noticed about this bird was that it walked continuously searching for food, and even when I followed it, it continued walking faster rather than fly away. The bird never returned to a spot previously visited by it.
The first 4 photographs were clicked in a shaded area, while the last one was clicked in bright sunlight, resulting in an image with hardly any contrast. The bird in the shade was spot metered for the black area and the image turned out well exposed, for both shadows and highlights.
image details : f/4.5 , 1/200 sec, ISO 100, F.L. 210mm ,

Hooded Crow

Whenever my ship has to enter the black sea from the Mediterranean, we have to transit the Bosporus straits, which is a small water body, which separates Asia from Europe. A sure shot visitor there are a murder of Black Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix ). It was the first time I saw a crow that was not fully black and was such a shocker to me, because since childhood a crow has always been black to me. There are four recognised subspecies of the hooded crow, these are the C. c. pallescens.
The second photograph was a bit difficult because the water in the back ground was reflecting light and the crow was getting underexposed. I spot metered the head of the crow and which gave a shutter speed of about 0.5 sec. I had to boost the ISO to 400 to increase the shutter speed to about 1/100 sec, so I could shoot it hand held. If I had a polarising filter, may be I could have reduced the background glare and get some details off the water too.The polarising filter is very effective in cutting off reflections and reflected light.

This post is dedicated to my best friend Ashwin, who always complained that I never featured a crow on my blog. ( This one's for you mate)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Wren

Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) is a common bird for Europe but in India its a local resident of Himalayas and may migrate to lower latitude only during winter. When I saw this tiny bird on board my ship, it was not shy and I was able to photograph it easily from a close range. The tiny bird was about 9 or 10 cm and was foraging for flies in the ships mooring ropes. It frequently entered into crevices which are formed when a rope is coiled and exited from another adjoining opening.
The bird was photographed off Greece and the first thing I remembered when I saw this winter Wren was a Aesop's Fable about the wren. The birds once hold a contest to crown a king, the bird which can soar the highest was to be the king. The eagle soared higher than all the birds and when the eagle started to tire, the clever wren which was hiding in eagles feather came out and soared far above and was crowned the king. Aesop must have closely watched the Wren, because I realised that the bird was not only tiny but also liked to hide and spotting it in between the similarly coloured rope was quite a task.

Photo details : 300 mm lens , f/5.4 , 1/640 sec , ISO-200

Saturday, December 26, 2009

European Bee eater

Compliments of the season to all of you and mega apologies for not updating this blog for such a long time. I was out sailing for the last 8 months, on what was suppose to be a 4 months call of duty. On the brighter side, It was an lovely opportunity to photograph some beautiful migratory birds that landed on board my ship.My ship was trading in the Mediterranean and black sea and most of the birds I encountered were the ones migrating from Europe to Africa or vice-versa.For the next couple of days I will post photographs of some of these birds and will now start with my first encounter that happened on May The bird was the colourful European Bee eater (Merops apiaster), a bird which breeds in southern Europe or north Africa . It migrates and spends its winter in Tropical Africa reaching all the way to India and Sri Lanka. It is a very rare visitor to India but there are many sightings of this bird in India.
Like all other Bee eaters this one too prefers flying insects and lets alone insects that have landed.
Poor light made photography difficult when these colourful birds landed on board, nevertheless, it was a pleasure watching such rainbow of colours flying all around. Its nearly useless having a tripod on board a ship, the vibrations of the engine are transmitted onto the camera, via the tripod making sharp images at slow shutter speed nearly impossible. Hand held camera shots are the only solution and eight months on board with no tripod did help me to improve my hand held images.