Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Post #45 - Black Friday Birding, teamwork photography, book progress....

Instead of shopping, Sonia and I went birding on Black Friday and overnight into Saturday. We hit a number of spots around Riverside and Orange Counties during our two days out. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and I can appreciate that winter - or at least the Southern California interpretation of it - has finally arrived. Raptors and ducks were plentiful everywhere we went, and my photos from our excursion certainly reflect this. My photo portfolio is generally weak in these areas, so I am hoping to round out my collection with shots of these families in the next few months. The first two were taken from an elevated boardwalk that unfortunately prevented me from getting a lower angle on the subjects. Despite the lack of action, the birds are so attractive that I am happy with the results anyway.

Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata
Orange County, California
Canon 500mm f/4 IS on EOS 7D2
1/2500 at f/5.6, ISO 640

Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis
Orange County, California
Canon 500mm f/4 IS on EOS 7D2
1/2000 at f/5.6, ISO 640

Photo of weekend honors surely go to this lady kestrel. There is actually kind of a funny story behind it We drive a 1999 Volvo. Let's just describe it as "well-loved". Among its more charming features are not one, but two - YES, TWO! - front windows that don't roll down. We live in sunny California and we can't roll our front windows down. Kinda sad, right, RIGHT??!?! #fail. Anyway, many people will appreciate that a car provides a fantastic - and moveable - blind from which to photograph birds. For reasons I do not fully understand, a huge car poses little apparent threat to many birds. Open the door and take one step towards the bird and it's generally over though. Given the limitations of out current vehicle, I cannot, when I head out alone, use the car as a mobile blind because of the front window limitations. Enter my personal chauffeur, Sonia. With her driving and me sitting in the back seat, we were a bird photographing force.With result like this, she might be pressed into service more in the upcoming months! 

Female American Kestrel - Falco sparverius
Riverside County, California
Canon 500mm f/4 IS on EOS 7D2
1/1250 at f/8, ISO 400
 Closed lens down to get whole bird in focus

This is the last notable photo of the weekend. I am not terribly sure how I feel about it. It was taken in rather crappy light against a clearly overcast sky for a background. The painting-like quality of the shot is kinda cool, but I'm just not completely sold on it from a purely photographic standpoint. Any thoughts, positive or negative, are welcome!

Merlin - Falco columbarius
Canon 500mm f/4 IS + 1.4x III on EOS 7D2
1/800 at f/5.6, ISO 400

Lastly, for those that are curious, my book is slowly moving along. I have received some very solid feedback from publishing folks in New York, and I think that while I have a very good first draft (~93,000 words, or ~340 pages at 375/words page), it will be at least another 6 months before I'll have a more polished second draft ready for further critique. I do not have a publisher yet, but I am honestly not concerned about my ability to publish this book. I am more concerned with producing the best book that I can; I am sure it will get published in some capacity or other. I have thorough enjoyed the writing process, and I am looking forward to tackling the suggested revisions. Stay tuned!


  1. Dorian: Two really interesting "falcon" images. The Kestrel is spectacular, and the Merlin is amazingly "painterly." Great job on both!

  2. That beautiful merlin shot is striking: the clarity of the subject and its perch, the absence of any obstruction in the foreground, the absence of any distraction in the background, the lighting. It's kind of like the bird is in a studio posing for its portrait in front of a white screen! Maybe that unnatural quality accounts for your ambivalence about the image?

  3. Yeah I agree with what Scott and Mike said, I absolutely love that Merlin shot, I think it's awesome.

  4. Lovely photos and congrats on the book progress.