Wildlife Safari

We gathered up supplies for a two week trip, loaded up the Land Rover, and headed…wait a minute we don’t have a Land Rover! We didn’t need any supplies either. I am a big fat liar. 🙂 I have a glorified mud puddle out in the back yard, some might call it a pond. The pond lies around 35-40′ from the deck at the back of the house. We get migrating ducks from time to time, and other assorted critters through the year and a few days ago one of the boys spotted a Green Heron hanging around. I decided to see if I could capture a few photos.

So I did actually go through all the gathering up the pieces of my photo rig. Which consists of an Orion ED 80 apochromatic telescope, that gets used as a telephoto lens. A homemade bracket that holds the little 16 MP Sony camera in place, and an Orion 17mm Stratus eyepiece. With all of the parts situated this gear allows me to take afocal shots through the telescope. This can be a little tricky with all of the moving parts. You have to align the camera just so over the eyepiece, focus the telescope as best you can using the screen on the back of the camera, then click a button that times the shutter for 2 or 10 second pause after the shutter has been pushed, then you have to lightly push and hold the shutter button just a tad for the autofocus to adjust, then snap the shot. The delay allows any vibration to settle down, hopefully allowing for a better pic. The delay also allows for your target to move out of the shot, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.

No matter who you are or what your setup is the key I think to getting good photos is to take a gazillion pictures. Out of a gazillion pics there are bound to be a few that come out decent. So over the course of a couple of days I braved alligators, tigers, sharks, tiger sharks even, wait! No I’m dreaming again, all I did do was brave the extreme Tennessee humidity and hot hot summer temps, and took several shots of our Green Heron visitor, as well as a couple of more long term residents of the pond.

First up is a dragonfly I spotted. I thought what the heck let’s see if we can get it. It came out better than expected. Note many of the pics have been modified this time with a photo editor that exists in this Win 7 machine. I used an auto adjust feature that removes noise and adjusts for color/tint/contrast/exposure etc. And then fine tuned by my eye till the final result. Mr. dragonfly:


I really did not think the dragonfly would be that good, I know it’s far from a pro shot with a $10,000 rig, but I’m on a budget sub $500 rig (I got the telescope used for $300, retails for $500. The heavy duty Bogen tripod I have cost me $100 from E-Bay, the camera was given to me, and I built from scratch the camera holding device and the telescope alt/az mount.) and it is what it is.

Next up, while I was shooting the heron, I noticed a couple of snakes that had moved in without my knowledge, and thought it would be great if I could catch one, but they were always swimming by then moving out of sight. Frustrating. Then using a pair of binoculars and panning around I spotted a snake on a branch overhanging the water. Perfect!


And another:


Now for our Green Heron. I had several shots that came out pretty good, so you’re going to see a lot of heron.



This next one I was in a rush, there was a commotion and I suspected the heron had caught something, sure enough he did. However there is some vignetting (a fancy word for a light cut off in the optical path.) It is out of focus as well, but you can clearly see the S.O.B. has one of my minnows!


Guess what? More heron! I love the inverted reflection.


This last one may be the best shot I got.


That wraps it up for this safari. The trip home was a long arduous journey, I had to walk all the way from the deck back into the house 🙂

We used to be able to adjust the photo size when we uploaded. Then when the photo was inserted into a post you were able to click to expand it. I can’t seem to find out how to accomplish that with the WP changes. If anyone knows the procedure please elaborate in the comments.



4 thoughts on “Wildlife Safari

  1. Not only great shots, but excellent commentary! 🙂


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