On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
As long-time readers know, I enjoy bird watching, although I’m a rank amateur at it. I’ve attempted to share photos I’ve taken of birds here. But since I took the pictures with my iPhone and am a graduate of the Cole U School of Photography (not grifty like Trump U but the coursework is of similar quality), the images have been uniformly crappy.
If you’ve seen a good photo published by me on this site, it was almost certainly taken by someone else, forwarded to me, and published with attribution. The crappy, blurry photos? All mine.
One of you hilariously and accurately described a photo I published of an osprey as looking like something commissioned by Mrs. Osprey to a private detective. It’s funny because it’s true; since I was attempting to sneak up on the birds, they were giving me the stink-eye.
But through the miracle of Christmas, I hope to improve as a nature photographer in the coming year, having been gifted with a fancy new Nikon from the long-suffering Mr. C. Now I just have to learn how to use it.
Here’s a photo of a collared dove (I think) who was perched on a wire quite some distance away:
And here’s a mockingbird drinking from my birdbath — you can see a chicken butt in the coop in the background if you look hard enough:
And here’s an impressive owl:
He’s fake, of course — set there to scare critters off the mister’s pepper plants and tomatoes.
Obviously, my technique needs work, but these pictures are better than iPhone photos, if only because the birds don’t know I’m spying on them! If any shutterbugs among the commentariat (and we have some excellent ones, including Raven, BillinGlendale, JeffreyW, Cope and MANY others) would like to recommend books, sites, tips, etc., to help me improve, I think we’ll all be better off for it.
We’re in for a lot of ugly in the coming year, what with the Tangerine Tyrant and his pack of tacky-ass, parasitic grift-mavens descending on DC. I intend to seek solace from nature as often as possible.
Anyhoo. Open thread!
PS: The Pets of Balloon Juice calendar is here. Check it out!
Steve’s Digicams has had lots of good information.
Major Major Major Major
I have tried, in my way, to be free.
If I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
I’ve also had great luck buying used stuff from KEH.
A recent New Yorker cartoon shows a bird in front of a mirror staring at its reflection with a pair of binoculars.
I’ve had no luck with fake owls.
But through the miracle of Christmas, I hope to improve as a nature photographer in the coming year, having been gifted with a fancy new Nikon from the long-suffering Mr. C.
Congrats. I will say a modern camera is pretty easy to learn to use. For these kinds of purposes (daylight wildlife pictures), you should have no problem getting good pictures, as long as you have the right lens. I am guessing you only got the base lens with the Nikon package. What you would be needing here is either the a) Nikon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6G Zoom Lens (cheap) or the b) Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens (expensive).
(The nickle version here is no book or course will help you if you’ve got the really wrong lens. And for distance photography, you need a distance lens.)
Major Major Major Major
I must say, the actions Obama took on arctic oil exploration make me happy. It’s a little thing, compared to all that Il Douche will destroy, but it still makes me happy.
@raven: I’ll check it out — thanks!
@Major Major Major Major: I’ve had that song stuck in my head since I typed those words. The drunken Edina Monsoon version from AbFab!
I see that the Trumpers have decided that CA and NY votes don’t count. I suppose CW will officially declare us not real America, Looks like whole state of NY has been declared un-American, not just NYC. I hope Hawaii will welcome my humble state in the un-American state club. Good company to keep!
Conservatives’ Special Revisionist Math: Trump Won Popular Vote If You Nix CA!
@max: I got a Nikon Coolpix P900 with 83x optical zoom/166x Dynamic Fine Zoom super telephoto NIKKOR lens. Whatever that means.
Thom Hogan’s site might be useful: http://bythom.com. He’s a Nikon guy, so he has lots of stuff on gear (lenses especially) that could be useful, and he is a serious (professional) wildlife photographer. He’s got a large catalogue of teaching pictures, a new one at the top of the blog every month (I think) with the archive on his facebook page. He does lots of birds.
On the bright side, CA would fare better going back to being an independent Republick under the bold leadership of our first president, Jerry Brown.
Who will launch his own damn California satellites!
Gov Jerry Brown Threatens Backlash Against Trump Over Satellites
All we need to do is figure out a way to run some deficits, and we are set to go. We can, at least on a de facto basis, be independent.
You folks can keep all the money we send you, as far as I’m concerned, as long as we can run our own fiscal policy.
Trump won’t care. After a few angry tweets, he will tweet out that he don’t really give a damn.
Did you take them out to dinner first?
Gin & Tonic
@Betty Cracker: You know the old builder/architect saying of “budget, schedule, quality – pick two”? It works much the same way in photography, where optimizing one thing causes another to suffer. So those super-zoom numbers they give you are achieved by faking something else.
Those lenses that max recommended, BTW, are for a different type of camera than what you have.
I want to buy a new camera too. I am going to take up dancing again. It used to bring me a lot of joy.
Anyone have suggestions for a Canon?
Here is all of Brown’s speech to the American Geophysical Union. It’s pretty good. Looks like CA will go down fighting,as long as Brown is governor.
A conversation with Jerry Brown
Check out Cleek’s mockingbird shot.
Birding, especially “BIF–birds in flight” is literally the most expensive pursuit in the photographic world when taken to the current technical boundaries, and is mostly pursued by wealthy older guys who can afford the $5k cameras and $15k lenses. When looking to something less extreme the good news is there are ways to do it without breaking the bank. Just understand going in that the best work comes from folks willing to spend time in blinds at dawn/dusk, wade into marshes, paddle down oxbows and the like, and gear is secondary to committment.
The DP Review nature and wildlife forum is too gearhead-centric but contains some terrific work, too. Great spot to learn what’s possible and get a handle on what equipment can deliver the goods. I will suggest a fundamental rig combining a contemporary camera, adapted “legacy” manual focus telephoto lens (a long one 400mm or more) and a very good tripod and head. Then practice, practice, practice. Here’s a how-to post from a thrifty Kiwi who uses an Olympus m4/3 body and adapted Canon teles to take some of the most amazing bird photos I’ve seen–NG-cover worthy. His gear doesn’t cost a mint, far from it, and the results speak for themselves.
A completely different approach a fixed-lens “superzoom” and just go out and have fun.
Think I’m at the link count limit.
Trump on fomenting religious wars: ‘Who said that?’ Reporter: ‘You did’
By Joan McCarter
Wednesday Dec 21, 2016 · 2:13 PM EST
Well, this doesn’t bode well for the nation’s future. Here’s Trump briefly answering press questions on Wednesday. Specifically, where the reporter asks about his statement on the attack in Berlin:
Reporter: “Your comments about the truck attack in Berlin being against Christians, do think that this might….”
Trump: “Say it again?
Reporter: “The attack in Berlin being an attack on Christians….”
Trump: “Who said that? When was that said?”
Reporter: I believe you said it in a press release….”
Yep, he did. In a statement released just yesterday he said “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.” So there you go.
I don’t know what’s worse: the possibility that he truly doesn’t remember day-to-day whether he made an inflammatory and dangerous statement or that he doesn’t know his team is making them for him.
ETA the rest below is me
So is this a preview of Dr. Bornstein’s caution, or does he not know what his press office is saying, or is he lying?
I’m sensing the answer has something to do with Katie.
Gin & Tonic
@schrodingers_cat: It depends. Do you want a pocketable camera, or something larger? Do you want a camera with interchangeable lenses? How much do you want to spend? You can easily spend either $500 or $5,000 for things that look broadly “the same.”
“I’ll have the shrew special, and the field mouse for my date.”
That means it comes with a lens permanently mounted rather than having an interchangeable lens like a DSLR or mirrorless camera. I personally think that kind of camera is probably a better starting point for someone like you than an interchangeable lens camera would be, since you don’t have to worry about fiddling with lenses. The “83x optical zoom” means it has a real zoom range of 83x, which goes from fairly wide angle to super-duper telephoto. As a practical matter, the long end of the zoom is probably going to be nearly unusable. The “166x Dynamic Fine zoom” means it can fake having an even longer telephoto range, though the quality will be shit if you try using it.
Mingobat (aka Karen in GA) is also a terrific photographer, and getting better all the time! I know she’s taken some classes, and joined a photography club.
I recently saw a fake owl with about ten Canada geese sitting around it just chillin’
@jl: We won’t go down. California beat the Bush administration on energy policy in the long game and we’ll beat the Trump administration as well. CA makes more investment in renewable energy than all 49 other states combined. We’ll win on other fronts too – civil rights, women’s health, healthcare overall, etc. We won’t win on everything, but 4 years from now I think you’ll see CA ahead of where we are now in a lot of things. We’ll win this.
A sign you might need a new car: Getting a Christmas card from your mechanic.
Now that I’d like to see a picture of!
Latest conservarat meme: “Hillary won California, Trump won everywhere else.”
Deliver me from morans.
@Gin & Tonic: I have a Canon power shot, I want a camera with interchangeable lenses.
Especially if the photo is of him waterskiing.
@trollhattan: He didn’t win in the original home of the tea party. You know the one in Boston.
Has Jerry mentioned whether we get to keep Vandenberg? ‘Cause I suspect that’s an important component of the Cali Space Program.
@trollhattan: If you don’t count the people who didn’t vote for him, Trump won unanimously.
@schrodingers_cat: I’m a mirrorless guy, but I hear happy things about the Canon 80D. If long telephoto shots (Birding/wildlife type stuff) is what you want, you might consider micro-4/3s. Because that system (Olympus and Panasonic) uses a somewhat smaller sensor than Canon, you get more reach for the same focal lengths, which means you can get a lens that will see a long way away without carrying a metric f**ktonne of glass.
But the truth of the matter now is the most gear arguments are completely pointless. The major makers really don’t make a bad camera, and you can get great lenses in every system across a range of criteria: light-gathering, weight, reach. You should buy what fits happily in your hand and your wallet.
My big recommendation for improvement is practice, practice, practice. Reading books is all well and good, but you won’t have a good idea of what you need to know unless you run up against your limits by going out and doing stuff. The basic process is:
1) Take a bunch of pictures of whatever you fancy
2) Look critically at your pictures to try to figure out what you do and don’t like about them. In particular, you should focus on two problems: why don’t you get more pictures that you like and why aren’t your best pictures even better.
3) Look up resources on how to improve in the specific areas you’ve identified as problems.
4) Repeat from step 1), focusing on whatever you’ve learned that’s supposed to help you out.
@jl: Conan nailed it: “Trump won if you don’t count California, Hillry won if you don’t count Russia.”
@jl: The western states and province already have energy and transportation agreements, why not make a go of it together?
@hovercraft: Posting from dead thread below: I don’t do it to kvetch so much, I think, as bear witness, so at least there’s some tiny legacy I leave behind when my time comes.
I don’t want to just be a nameless Jew in the camps. I want my death to mean something. And in the meantime, the lines from the old Police song Invisible Sun come to mind…
And they’re only going to change this place
By killing everybody in the human race
They would kill me for a cigarette
But I don’t even wanna die just yet….
Is there such a thing as a professional bird watcher?
Gin & Tonic
@schrodingers_cat: The least expensive current DSLR in the Canon family is the Rebel T6. I’m a Nikon user, so have no familiarity with it, but people who use it are very happy. If you’re not sure what you want, you probably shouldn’t spend more.
Did the northeast suddenly disappear? Have I been spared from the apocalypse?
@trollhattan: If SpaceX keeps going as they are, we won’t need Vandenburg – we can just launch from the desert and fly the rockets back to the launchpad.
@Gin & Tonic: Agreed. I am looking for a good second-hand option.
Hey, if anyone wants any birding advice, I’m happy to provide. I’ve been birding for 30 years and did a minor in ornithology in college. I know quite a bit about our modern-day dinosaurs and what makes them tick.
@hovercraft: Nah, but like Florida, it’s fair game to discriminate against California. We’ll have the last laugh, though.
@Davebo: Yeah. They’re either nature-show cameramen or ornithologists.
So I’m staying at one of these extended suites places while my mom has company from out of town the next 10 days.
It gives me some peace and quiet to think and reflect before the new year, and it’s closer to work than my mom’s house.
It’s a win win.
So…here I sit on my laptop…and I hear this pulling at the door. So I go to the door and look through the people hole, and this ole redneck looking white dude…keeps trying to open the door with his keycard…
Now mind you, I have one of those DO NOT DISTURB tags on the door, which at the very least should make ya pause…but nope…ole dude kept trying to open the door. And I’m just looking at him through the peep ole thinking…”look at the room number dickwad”…
I continued to look through the peephole until he realized he was at the wrong door…smh
That’s why most of us post, and call our reps.it may not change the outcome, but we’ve made our voices heard.
@lamh36: Good thing his keycard didn’t work. We’ve been to a hotel where they booked us into an occupied room. :)
Gin & Tonic
@schrodingers_cat: I’m wondering why second-hand? DSLR body technology changes (improves) quickly, and if you can get a new T6 with two lenses for $450, how much more could you save and why?
Are you sure he can read, after all many of those people are not big on edumacation.
Man, is this going to be a political train wreck. Trump can tell his dupes that his lines about jailing HRC and that he had complete contempt for Obama were just jokes he told to win the election. So they boo him when he says that, but they really don’t care all that much.
I wonder what they will think when Trump says that his lines about protecting Medicare and Social Security were just jokes he told to win the election.
Some of them are such chumps, they may just blow it off until the checks stop I guess.
The bigots and xenophobes probably won’t wake up until a few weeks after and the rent is due, they notice that the fridge is empty, and they come up short at McDs for the cheeseburger.
Gingrich Says Trump’s No Longer Interested In ‘Drain The Swamp’
I would advise against restricting yourself by brand when shopping for an interchangeable lens camera. The big question you need to ask yourself is where you want to trade off in the size/cost/quality spectrum; that will let you know what general class of camera to look at. Most people would probably be best off looking at one of the mirrorless systems that use smaller than 35mm sensors, which give very good quality in a small package. The most popular are the Micro Four-Thirds systems, which are available from both Olympus and Panasonic, but there are also systems from just about all the other manufacturers. APS-C format DSLRs are going to give you similar quality to the mirrorless systems, but they tend to be larger, both bodies and lenses; their biggest advantage will be for action photography. The highest end for quality are the 35mm format (“full frame”) cameras. The most popular are from Canon and Nikon, but there are also cameras from Sony, Pentax, and Leica. The full frame cameras tend to be large, expensive, and require big lenses, but they offer amazing quality. There are even medium format digital systems, but they’re probably out of your price range unless you’re in the 1%.
I’ve been doing English Country Dancing (as shown in Jane Austen movies!) and it’s been a lot of fun. Everyone is really nice and, this being CA, no Trumpers in sight.
@jl: He was never interested in “draining” it to begin with. He’s now filled it to overflowing and will continue stocking it with revanchists.
@Mnemosyne: Is that what they call ‘line dancing’? I did that for awhile. It was fun and people very diverse and friendly.
@Gin & Tonic: Because I am cheap. I thought a brand new system would be 700 to 800. I had casually looked at a couple of systems a while back. Obviously, I will do more research, when I actually buy.
@Mnemosyne: Actually, I was thinking of Indian classical dancing, but I enjoy any kind of dancing, even Jazzercise classes!
Just look at how good a ‘negotiator our new emperor is, DC is already coming together to work with him.
Two headlines from TPM:
Report: Freedom Caucus Members Are Ready To Cave On Fiscal Austerity
Schumer Gives Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Gamble A Big Bear Hug
Any bets on who is the first to do a write up of how he is succeeding in bringing both side together in DC together, unlike that partisan failure Obama? I’m looking at you Maggie Haberman.
Something that can really help shooting birds or other things that are backlit/in the sky, set your metering to spot-meter rather than evaluative, take the meter reading on the bird itself, then re-frame the composition.
Your posted pic is too dark because it is exposed based on the sky, and trying to make that sky 18% gray. Spot metering takes care of that problem. If you’re close enough, fill flash can also help a lot, though tends to look unnartural without diffusers and remote strobes.
That’s hilarious. I hope all his voters who were chanting that are happy now.
Major Major Major Major
Y’all told me these things would never ever happen when I predicted them two weeks ago. Sanders will be on board too.
@Roger Moore: I think the most hilariously over-specced lens I ever saw was a telephoto that Zeiss (I think) had made for a Hasselblad medium-format body. It had I think about a 2400mm focal length (equivalent FOV to a 500 or 600mm on a full-frame 35mm body), weighed a couple of hundred pounds, and had a mounting scheme more commonly seen in light anti-aircraft cannons.
It was a custom piece commissioned by some oil sheik or similar, for birding. Cost was somewhere in the range of what normal people spend in a house.
@Gravenstone: He picked an especially sketchy hedge fund manager to be in the administration, Treas Secretary, I think. And Larry Kudlow may join the team!
So, guys like Paulson, Kashkari, and Geithner were at least technically competent and, personally, relatively non corrupt by today’s standards, even if I very strongly disagreed with their policies. Now we have corrupt and incompetent. Will be a giant a mess if they get caught in another financial crisis.
People like Neil Kashkari and Larry Summers have taken positions that are half way between HRC and Sanders on major financial and economic policy issues. They are commies and losers in Trump World. Sadly for us ordinary people, we may live through a real time experiment that determines who is right about the world.
Edit: though it is really the GOP in addition to Trump. I remember reading how Paulson symbolically went down on his knees in a meeting with Dem Congressional leadership begging them to put aside the ideological bullcrap during the 2008 crisis. And Pelosi told him that the Dems were not the problem, he needed to get the GOP on board.
@Doug R: oh…I had the lock engaged…so that’s likely why he couldn’t get in. Still…he just had the wrong room…his wife came up and like what are you doing…smh
thank goodness I stopped walking round places bucked naked…lol
G always knocks on the door of a hotel room before he opens it for the first time, because one time they accidentally gave him the keycard to an occupied room. The other guy was just sitting and watching TV, but poor G was a little traumatized.
I have a lot of affection for Kalamazoo- I’ve spent some time there and I just like the place- they TRY so hard– so I thought this was a happy ending :)
Obama spoke at their high school in 2010. They had a contest and the high school students from Kalamazoo won. They were incredibly excited :)
@Roger Moore: wanted to add, also be aware that cameras with non-full frame sensors have a multiplier effect when used with a std lens. E.g. a body with an APS-C sensor will be about a 1.4x multipler..so your formerly wide angle 28mm becomes a not-wide-angle at ~40mm.
I shoot mostly very wide lenses, my primary a 20mm fixed, secondary a 17-35mm. I held out for a long time for reasonably priced fullframe sensor Canon bodies, and there was a time there when you could get a perfectly good APS-C size like a Canon Rebel/Kiss for about $150, where the cheapest full frame at the time was over $1k. KEH, lightly used, was my friend.
@trollhattan: He didn’t win my state of MD. They need to pay more attention to reality.
@lamh36: I have some sympathy for him. The key cards don’t have numbers on them, the doors and hallways all look alike and anyone with vision issues or something like dyslexia or maybe they’re just tired can mix up the room numbers in their head and have no other cue that says “No, wrong room.” I’ve also had my key card de-magnetize, so that can also be confusing. “I know this is my room. Why’s my key card not working?”
Or maybe he’s just ass and his wife is thisclose to walking away and this is yet another sign of why she’s not wrong about that.
@Kay: thanks for the link. I will read it later.
Second what Raven said about KEH.
I’m also a big fan of buying used gear on ebay or craigslist.
I have a lot of respect for wildlife photographers- you gotta have some real patience for it!
Me, I like to step outside my front door to get the owl shots.
This magnificent lady hung out in the neighborhood (Naples, FL) for a couple months with her mate and one adolescent offspring.
When she dropped silently out of that pine tree and spread ’em… wow…
a sight I will never forget.
@hovercraft: Sigh. So now he doesn’t even remember nonsense he spewed the previous day but we’re supposed to trust him with our safety? Dang, are we screwed!!
I remember seeing something about that lens. A quick check says it was a 1700mm f/4 and intended for a 6×6 cm format camera. That would make it roughly the equivalent of a 1000 mm lens for a 35mm camera. Somebody with more money than sense wanted it.
Yeah. I’ve had the demagnetizing thing happen. But I checked the room to make sure I was in the right one. I din’t try to push against the door…
Kudlow joining the admin is the one that really cracks me up. Guy was known around the Street (back when my fiancé worked for a well know sell-side shop) as a blowhard idiot and giant, GIANT cokehead in the 90s. Add that he’s the econ/market equivalent of Bill Kristol – he’s always wrong, for decades.
I alternate between laughing and crying, today some of both.
@jl: Gingrich means that Trump was NEVER interested in draining the swamp — just moving it to D.C. Let’s keep it real.
@Major Major Major Major:
We are in bizarro world now, everything is the opposite of what it should be, I would expect Bernie to be on board with this, but Schumer is not acquitting himself well so far. He is already showing all the traits we were afraid he would bring to his new role. Harry Reid needs to take Schumer into a ring and knock some sense into him. All these people need to remember the scorpion and the frog, the shitgibbon will turn on them all, because it’s his nature. The democrats will not be able to win back jack if they allow themselves to be coopted. We are dispirited enough without them knuckling under for this POS.
Mike in NC
@jl: Was unaware that Newt had a sense of humor, though I imagine he’d laugh his fat ass off if he saw a bus run over somebody in a wheelchair.
Nuh uh, it has a liberal bias.
Line dancing is descended from it, as is square dancing, but it’s its own thing. We’ve been doing a lot of dances from the 1600s and 1700s.
It could probably be classed as English folk dancing, but we don’t do any of the cool sword stuff that the Scottish and Irish folk dancers do. Plus it’s party dancing, not performance dance, so it gets me out of the house and interacting with other people, which is good. ?
@Roger Moore: If you really need Extreme Magnification, a reflecting telescope with a camera adapter will work fine. It’s not going to be f/4 though.
Major Major Major Major
@hovercraft: plus, y’know, collaborating on good things only rewards white nationalism as a viable electoral strategy. You want good things, vote for democrats.
@Gin & Tonic:
My quick take: digital camera bodies depreciate more or less like an Acme anvil off a cliff and one can acquire a semi-pro body for entry level prices, or a pro body for mid-level prices–recent models too. The reasons are quality components and speed, the downside is no warranty.
Lenses should comprise 75+% of a system budget.
@hovercraft: Don’t rule out Schumer just doing this to wedge Trump/GOP on fiscal policy. The only way we get through the next 4 years is if the GOP can’t come to consensus on things. That’s going to require some pretty bizarre tactics from Dems.
I don’t think this is a sign he doesn’t remember what he said, although he probably doesn’t and doesn’t care. I think it’s more a sign that his spokespeople act independently from him and just put out things in his name. He has no idea what they’re doing and continues to say what he wants. This will be a big problem once he’s president. What’s the actual position of the president and the US government? How can anyone tell?
@Major Major Major Major:
I’m actually not too worried about Schumer. He and Pelosi are smart enough to know that if they pretend to be cooperative, they can watch as the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot without ever getting anywhere. Again.
And even the quote seems to be, If these assholes ever manage to get their shit together into a bill, we’ll see, but I ain’t holding my breath.
I’ve decided to get a bird bath heater. Temperatures here are regularly below freezing. Any recommendations? It’s appreciated, a recommendation goes a long way these days.
How conservatives will be forced to fall in line behind Trump
Anyone on the right not promoting the greater glory of Donald Trump will feel his supporters’ wrath.
This is a great thread. Appreciate the camera info. But like it light. With birds.
Appending an earlier comment, this fellow shoots songbirds from a hide in his yard, where he takes some of the loveliest photos of tiny birds I’ve ever seen. It’s not all egrets and eagles.
@Major Major Major Major: Sanders has already denounced Trump’s infrastructure proposal as a crony capitalist boondoggle. If he changes his tune, I will be disappointed.
Schumer is making big noises about trying to cooperate with Trump on his good ideas. Sadly, other than wishful thinking and projection I have read into some of Trump’s campaign jokes, Trump seems to have no good ideas. Schumer thinks that making some cooperative noises about working with Trump when he proposes something useful is good PR. Maybe so, but he needs to oppose bad proposals, and Trump’s crony capitalist tax give away dressed up as an infrastructure program is a bad idea.
Gin & Tonic
@trollhattan: I agree with you if it’s someone who know what they’re doing and what they want. If it’s someone who’s not sure what they want and it’s their first serious camera, you can do so well at the $500 price point these days that the other approach just isn’t worth it, IMO.
Major Major Major Major
@? Martin: @Mnemosyne: This is also very possible. I don’t know if our herd of cats can be counted on not to fuck this up though, with people like Manchin on the right who want/have to play footsie with the right to survive, and folks like Sanders on the left who are cats that aren’t even really in the herd.
@jl: That was Trump’s previous infrastructure plan, this one’s different. Sanders isn’t opposed to collaborating with Trump on infrastructure if it’s the right plan. I think this is a huge mistake.
ETA: And morally… problematic.
ETAA: Basically I think Trump is going to come up with a centrish infrastructure bill that Ryan will let hit the floor in exchange for Ryan’s safety net gutting, Trump will pass it with lots of Democratic votes, and we’ll have another left-v-liberal civil war about it while R’s get to run on how awesome infrastructure is.
@Major Major Major Major: @ Martin:
The problem with cooperation is that we always are the ones left holding the bag, 9/11 was Clinton’s fault, the crash, bailouts and all that were Obama’s fault. When we do things for the good of the country, they scream that we made them do it, and that it was democrats fault.
They are all in over their heads so it is and will continue to be a clusterfuck.
@Mnemosyne: All dancing is good dancing, is my motto.
Afternoon dance break:
She is not much of an actor, but she is pretty and can dance well.
Katrina Kaif in Kamli, from Dhoom3
Quality of photos is as good as the quality of phone calls.
Fed up dealing with calls from cellphones which sound like they’re being placed by someone crinkling cellophane while in the Marianas Trench during an undersea quake.
@Gin & Tonic:
Saw a black Friday package of a Canon somethingorother SLR with two lenses and a printer–$300. Holy crap, how is that even possible? My caveat is any of these entry-level kits will be woeful for birding and a neophyte can become discouraged very quickly always banging into the limits. It’s a dilemma, as the learning curve will be steep whatever the gear. Renting is always an option and sometimes rental fees can go to purchase if you really like a piece of kit.
@Major Major Major Major:
The one thing in our favor is that the Republicans don’t have any actual legislation ready. It’s not like the assholes at ALEC have been churning out trillion-dollar infrastructure plans in between writing boilerplate bills for banning abortion and suppressing non-white voters. They’re actually going to have to sit down and write this shit while the Freedom Caucus screams about it being un-American.
I’m sure that Trump’s people think all he has to do is say he wants infrastructure and a bill will magically appear, but that ain’t how it works.
O/T in Siberia it’s poisonous Russian “bath lotion” and in Nigeria, plastic Chinese rice. Yup, plastic rice.
Major Major Major Major
@Mnemosyne: they can just take a Democratic/bipartisan proposal from a few years back and slap their names on it like they did with the patriot act or immigration reform.
Gin & Tonic
@trollhattan: But my original was in response to schrodinger’s cat, who has not expressed an interest in birding, and specified that she’s cheap. I’ll note that the songbird photos in the link you posted upthread, while indeed lovely, were taken with a roughly $3k camera/lens combo, which is certainly well out of the budget of somebody who asks “what should I get” here on B-J.
Birdwatching jobs are being lost to automation, too. This photoset was originally on FB, but the woman who posted the album preferred to move it to her Tumblr account after repeated sharing blew up her FB profile.
@Major Major Major Major: The only new thing I can see is that Trump proposed specific legislation with a price tag. The design which Sanders denounced seems the same to me, and has the same problems. I will be surprised if Sanders changes his tune, but I will watch what he says about it. Here is a link to a debate on it in the NYT.
Can Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Work?
You better believe they’re gonna pack that bill with poison pills. Even when they’re doing something for their own benefit, they can’t help but try and screw the Dems over.
Ya know, that’s how became known as Governor Moonbeam back in the 70’s.
@jl: Still defending St. Sanders, I see.
Major Major Major Major
@BillinGlendaleCA: a man ahead of his time.
@schrodingers_cat: OK, I am out of here again for a few days if the stupid HRC/Sanders fight is still on.
Oh no! Is the carnage from cats not enough? But then I recall, it is a thread about photography.
@jl: I say, stay, but let’s not do anything to bring N R down on our heads. Then we will be very unhappy with you.
The illustrated Donald Trump–drawings to quotes from his books. The last one will amaze.
@Greg: That’s a wrapper for the same set of photos I linked. :D
My new senator Kamala Harris sent me an email to tell me her committee assignments, and they seem pretty prestigious for a freshman senator: Homeland Security, Intelligence, Environmental, and Budget.
@jl: Stay. I just don’t trust BS. YMMV.
@Major Major Major Major:
Do you really picture Paul Ryan giving up the Hastert Rule so he can spend government money on actual people?
@Mnemosyne: Heh, Kamli is the dimunitive for Kamala.
Kamala == Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort, Kamal is also a lotus.
mai naem mobile
@BillinGlendaleCA: that’s not what I heard. I thought it was the Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko who called him that during the 92 primary and WJC started using it.
@Gin & Tonic:
Yeah, I was focusing (heh) more of Betty’s query. You can play eenie-miney with most ILCs these days. Just mind the lens is a good one, as some kit zooms are crap*.
That said, if somebody has become accomplished using an advanced fixed lens camera, they may be ready to leapfrog past the entry-level DSLR. A hard call.
*best said in Scottish brogue.
@Major Major Major Major:
The American Jobs Act. …there you go.
You know, the one they failed to take ONE SINGLE VOTE ON!
Major Major Major Major
@Mnemosyne: he’s ignored it before. What’s one more time in exchange for his wildest fantasies? If trump/Bannon/whoever was smart they’d be demanding a clean infrastructure bill or some other nice bipartisan fascist pony in exchange for each of Ryan’s big projects.
@Tom Levenson: Love my mirrorless Sammy NX500.
Yes. A million times, yes. Most of my pics sit on my hard disk, never touched. Take lots of pics, every day.
@ Betty in OP: Don’t be afraid to be a shutterbug. You’re not dealing with film, the marginal cost of taking an extra shot is zero(of course take an extra memory card, they’re dirt cheep). Your camera doesn’t shoot RAW, but you can still do quite a lot in post. Post can take a rather mundane shot and really make it a great shot(getting a better color range, adjusting the white balance to what you really think is best as opposed to what the camera “thinks”). I use Adobe’s photography package($10 a month, Photoshop & Lightroom). I gota run and get some ink, but I’ll put up some camera/post pics later.
@Roger Moore: Good recommendations.
A couple of other quick and easy things to try:
1) Look up “exposure bracketing” – Nothing beats having the correct exposure. One can’t add more information (light) later…
2) If you’re doing telephoto stuff with normal (not super-fast) lenses, then you need a tripod. Get a cheap one, set it up so that the camera is looking at a bird feeder or nice branch, and take lots of pictures.
3) Turn off “digital zoom”. At 83x it’s hard to imagine that you’d need it anyway.
(Who remembers being amazed by 3x optical zoom…)
WSJ – Trump to name billionaire investor Carl Icahn as special adviser on regulatory overhaul
Not surprising at all. Another plutocrat who is almost like a modern day Scrooge. I can almost hear Icahn giving Trump advice right now:
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
Regulations? Mercury, lead? They are bothe elements found naturally, how can they possibly be bad for you.
@trollhattan: Heavens!! I remember seeing a report about fake dumplings in China a couple of years ago. Who could be so evil to make fake food for human consumption?
If you want to smile, pop back to the Odds and Ends thread and read Ella’s comment at the end.
Boggles the mind, yet somehow seems apt for our “post fact” world. China effectively colonizing swathes of Africa in the 21st century is an underreported story and well worth paying close attention to. Perhaps our new boor-in-chief wi….never mind.
My husband told our (grown) kids that he wanted to learn birdwatching but I knew he didn’t mean it. He was just making conversation. Anyway, they bought him binoculars and a book and he didn’t study or even watch birds. So they came home and my daughter’s like “tell me about the birds” so he’s pointing at birds saying that’s a robin and that’s a…baby robin and that’s a blue jay and that’s a …baby blue jay. She knew immediately he hadn’t studied. She told him “all the smaller birds aren’t babies of other birds- you’re just making this up”.
That is so nice — I think it should be frontpaged. It’s the only kind of thing that cheers me up these days.
They actually make some surprisingly fast reflecting telescopes. It appears that Dobsonian telescopes are regularly in the f/4.5 range.
I also would not be surprised if this turns out to be part of a bigger “we’re willing to cooperate but not compromise our principles” kabuki. See, it’s not that the Democrats are just mindlessly opposing everything Trump has proposed, it’s that they’re objecting to specific details that make the whole package unacceptable. We’d love a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, but only if it’s going to be direct government spending, not some kind of tax credit boondoggle.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Betty, here’s a quick and dirty post edit of your bird on a wire pic Bird on a Wire. I increased the color range, sharpened and added noise reduction and added a cooling filter with the bird masked out.
@schrodingers_cat: i shoot a few systems including canon. we’re really at the point of sufficiency where most interchangeable lens cameras (ILC) are very good. i chose canon because i found it easier to find used canon gear. i often buy canon refurbished, for a good discount:
and often there are discounts you can apply to the refurb price. every once in a while canon will have a 25% off refurb sale. i’ve also gotten quite a few lenses through the refurb store, never any issue.
it looks like the inventory is a bit depleted because of the holiday. but they restock quickly. the sl1 is a really good deal when it’s in stock, it’s canon’s smallest DSLR, which takes all the lenses. i got one for travel and like it as much as its bigger brothers. its sensor is a generaton older, but canon really hasn’t improved their APSC sensors much in the last few years, so a gen older isn’t really an issue, to me at least.
one other thing – kit lenses (the lenses that come bundled with the camera) have really gotten quite good lately. they are fine for most uses except low light, for which you will want a prime lens (single focal length lens with a bigger aperture, which lets in more light) or two, then you’re set. an 18-55 stm, 55-250 stm, and a 35mm prime (which has an approx 50mm field of view on an APSC sensor camera, similar to the human eye) is a fine kit.
as for tips to becoming better, i don’t really have any other than to look at other people’s work and see what you like, and try to figure out why you like it, then incorporate the technique into your work. also, it’s easy to fall down the gear rabbit hole (raises hand high), thinking that buying new gear will make your photos better, which usually it will not unless you have a specific application that needs a specific type of lens (eg birding, macros) that you cannot overcome without the gear.
@Roger Moore: That’s what I like about the Samsung, it and it’s lens are small and light.
@efgoldman: I was walking my dog years ago, and as I was walking him on a leash, he dove into some ivy and emerged with a squirrel! I was startled and screamed, and a neighbor came out. When I told him that my dog just killed a squirrel, he just smiled and said “that’s a good dog”. Agree with you, hate them, and my house is surrounded by pecan trees. Sigh.
Have you tried a roller or twirler? Demand the damn squirrels entertain you!
Also, too, pepper-doused feed, if you can find it. Birds are immune to the taste but not squirrels.
Julie Zickefoose is an illustrator of birds and a photographer. Her work is worth following —
@Major Major Major Major: I don’t think you need much coordination to pull this off. The GOP wishes they had large enough majorities that they could do really brazen stuff, but they don’t – and thats especially true if you compare the political disposition of the GOP house vs the GOP senate. The House is where the ‘sure, let’s default’ crowd lives, and only Cruz in the Senate believes in that craziness. That doesn’t apply to every policy, but on some there is really 3 camps here – Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Republicans. Remember, Senate Republicans signed on to immigration reform, the House said ‘fuck no!’.
Schumer is smart enough to know how to play this (as Reid was). I think there’s a gambit here that Schumer can offer Trump the Senate victory that Trump’s ego demands, but every inch that Schumer gives is an inch too far for the House GOP – and Trump isn’t savvy enough to work that compromise. And it’s not like Schumer ever needs to deliver on it – he just needs to hang it out there for Trump to leap at it.
Betty, I believe that the dove is a Mourning Dove, not a Eurasian Collared-Dove.
eta: I love the mockingbird, and the owl is superb.
@mai naem mobile: Nope, goes back to the late 70’s.
Uh-oh, I have an official Knitting Emergency tonight. One of the higher-ups at work gave me an unexpectedly generous gift, so now my personal etiquette requires me to reciprocate with a hand-knitted tchotchke. I’m thinking of a wine bottle cozy — adorable and fast to make.
@lurker dean: Tend to agree, the kit lens on my NX500 is a 16-50mm power zoom lens and is perfect for most stuff. I use a 20mm f/2 for my xmas light pics and that seems to work perfectly.
The way I like to say it is that better gear can only solve technical problems with your photographs; it won’t make you a better artist. So if you can honestly say that the main thing that’s holding your pictures back is technical- lack of appropriate lenses, not enough pixels, need better autofocus, or whatever- then it makes sense to look for a better camera. But a lot of the problems people think can be solved with better gear can also be solved with better technique, and it’s generally cheaper to try improving technique first.
I would also suggest spending an appropriate amount on stuff other than cameras and lenses. I’m amazed at how many people spend thousands of dollars on a camera and then stick with the cheap, lousy manufacturer-supplied neck strap. I can heartily recommend the OP/TECH straps, which can easily be the best $25 you spend on camera gear. I’m especially happy with their Reporter/Backpack connectors, which let you carry a camera from the shoulder straps of your backpack rather than your neck; they make hiking with a camera much more enjoyable. And don’t forget to get a quality tripod, which can make as big a difference in your picture quality as a top-notch lens.
@Mnemosyne: The last of the xmas presents arrived in the mail today, a letter from The Huntington with my upgraded membership and the gift membership for the kid.
@Roger Moore: Thanks for the link, Roger.
They sell most of the OP/TECH stuff at Samy’s, though I haven’t seen the Reporter/Backpack connectors there. I generally prefer to buy my camera gear there rather than online, even if the online prices are a bit better.
Nice! My membership gets reimbursed by work (which is a lovely perk), so I have to wait to renew until after the 1st.
@Gin & Tonic: $3000 system would be a waste for a beginner like me, who wants to graduate from Canon Power Shot. I love to shoot landscapes, houses, foliage, humans and of course most importantly kittehs.
These are some of the pictures I have taken.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Wow, that’s a thousand times better!
ETA: I have Adobe CS, including Photoshop, which I use at the toddler level. So much to learn!
@Roger Moore: good points. esp for betty and birding, a tripod or monopod will help a lot to reduce camera shake with long FL lenses, for crisper results.
@Mnemosyne: This was a great deal, renew at Contributor level and a guest membership for $200.
ETA: I’m renewed at Contributor level until June 2018, got my 2 guest passes.
@Betty Cracker: Any questions, ask away.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Not BC but what would be a good starting pt for photographer graduating from your basic digital cameras, to a camera where you can change lenses.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Oh, one more thing, the NIK collection from teh Google is really good and it’s FREE.
J R in WV
@Gin & Tonic:
I started shooting digital with a Nikon Coolpix 990 (or some number like that) which was totally unlike any film camera I ever used in 30 years, and progressed to a DSLR, a D70S with a bunch of lenses.
KEH Camera sells a used Rebel T6 for around $350/body only, or $449 with a kit zoom 18-55 mm F3.5-5.6 lens (which isn’t good for birding) – KEH sells used lenses too, and a 75-300mm F4-5.6 lens runs from $79(used, excellent) to $249(new). That’s close to what you want for birding. It weighs 480 grams, close to a pound of glass.
Then I bought a Panasonic Lumix that is pretty amazing, shoots well lit-looking photos in the dark using multiple exposures, like in a bar or dim room or at night outdoors. It has a Leica-designed lens that zooms a ton, 4.5-108mm at F2.8-4.5. It can save shots as both JPG and Raw while you shoot. I have yet to really use RAW to any good purpose, but I’m glad they’re out there on the hard drive.
It’s easy to travel with compared to a backpack full of Nikon gear. Also lasts longer on a charge…
But that’s me.
@schrodingers_cat: Depends on how you’re going to use it, I like light because I take my cameras(regular and IR) hiking or walking around the city. Another thing is the image quality(think megapixils), that might be a problem with an older, aka used, camera. I wouldn’t go under 20, but that’s just me(my NX500 is 28mp and the NX300(IR) is 20mp). One think I’ve found with lens is that some of the special features on the camera(including autofocus and auto exposure) are tied to their lens, you can use another manufacture’s lens(sometimes with an adapter) but you lose those features.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Light is good. 20 of what? Megapixels?
@J R in WV: I always use RAW as my starting point, the jpg’s out of the camera don’t cut it. I have to do post when I’m shooting cityscapes(haze reduction) so RAW is the only option. That’s why I moved from my Galaxy Camera, it didn’t shoot RAW and was only 16mp.
@schrodingers_cat: Yes, 20 megapixils.
J R in WV
nice Owl shot. What did you use for that photo, if you don’t mind me asking?
It’s got a little bit of something to it, not sure how to describe what I’m talking about. But especially on full detail, it seems hyper-sharp or something. Curious what you did post-processing, if anything… maybe I’m just not used to the size of image you have to work with.
@J R in WV:
I generally shoot RAW + basic JPG. The JPGs give me something to look at when I’m sorting through my pictures- I took about 1600 on my most recent vacation– so going through them as RAW files would be impractical. But I like the RAW for further processing of my select pictures because it gives me a chance to tweak the color balance, contrast, saturation, etc. without compromising the quality the way you do if you try to really push on JPGs.
The way I generally think of it is sort of the way Ansel Adams talked about doing a neutral test print first and then using that to see where to go in further printing. I set my camera to neutral settings- low contrast, auto white balance, low sharpening, etc.- for the JPGs just to give me an idea of what’s available in the picture. Then the ones that are good in terms of composition and exposure I can process further from the RAW file. It lets me focus on composition and exposure while I’m shooting and think about things like white balance, contrast, sharpening, etc. when I get home.
I wonder if Trump knows that most of America hates him. I suspect not at all and that he will find out the hard way and will realize that the federal bureaucracy, which mostly consists of genuine professionals will totally run rings around him and his billionaire “secretaries” of whatever.
@trollhattan: Hillary won California, Trump won Mississippi. Where would You rather be?
@Roger Moore: Have you looked at the light field cameras? They seem neat to me.
Started out as an MIT phD project.
KS in MA
Thanks for the Jerry Brown video. Outstanding! Inspiring! I can think of a few members of Congress who oughta watch it … it’s definitely backbone-inducing.
I had film Canon’s since forever, and digital from about 2003. I’ve moved up to a Canon 7D Mk 2 in the last five years.
In 2010 I realized that all that gear wasn’t getting me better results. Under the rubric “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” I went to my local library and over about a year checked out every single photography book I could find. How to do nature photography, how to do this and that. No matter how old, or dated, or off the wall subject matter. (Some, of course, were comically dated.) I wanted to be able to “think” in photography. The lessons in each book reinforced each other. The principles of the use of the camera are the same throughout the range of photography tasks. I dragged my camera with me every trip to the wetlands or the beach or vacations. Or a trip to shoot pictures of airplanes at the airport. All that applied practice, with the “book learning” hovering in my head, has paid off for me a thousand times.
Find Tom Ang’s books.
Find books on exposure: the most surprising book I found in all this reading was Jim Zuckerman’s “Perfect Exposure.” It is almost 20 years old, but explains what you should be looking for to make your camera expose a scene properly. I pull out his “how to find middle gray” from my memory banks all the time while composing my shots.
Since I’ve done all this, along with practice practice practice……my photography has improved a million percent.
No One You Know
I’m with Paul T., although my breakthrough book was John Hedgecoe’s book of 72 labs that began with the basics:Shape, Form, Line, and had color examples and labs I could do myself. I kept a workbook of each lab and I could see myself getting better. It took me from point-and-shoot to semi-professional in eight months…while I was at my day job. I actually did sell work, and I learned to see beauty that I didn’t recognize before.
I’ll try to hunt down the title. I know it’s Hedgecoe.