With spot metering, of course.
I never had to bother with it before, but in retrospect I really should have.
Oh, I know how much the camera meter likes 18% gray, but I didn’t think much of it. Matrix metering — a/k/a evaluative a/k/a zone metering — is the default setting on most cameras — and for a reason. It (generally) works.
Olympus cameras are a bit snobbish. Their matrix metering is called ESP, which stands for electro-selective patterning. Arrogance aside, I like this name. In any event, it works about the same as the other-named brands.
Matrix metering works by dividing the scene into zones (“patterns” in Olympus-speak).
It evaluates the light in each zone and then calculates what it thinks (if cameras could think, that is) is a proper exposure of the combination of lights and shadows.
It works great! as long as the zones don’t vary too much.
And if your subject pretty much fills the frame when you look through the viewfinder, you will absolutely love matrix metering!
So, as long as I could identify my subjects with a reasonable degree of certainty, I guessed I was safe in using matrix metering.
Matrix is fine when your subject fills (or nearly fills) the scene.But what if there are a lot of dark areas in your scene? and a lot of light areas as well? Averaging these into an overall 18% gray means you are going to lose either the dark shadows or the brighter areas. Which is why, by the way, you should be checking your histogram, but that’s another story.
In that case you will have to choose, guided by the histogram, which one to sacrifice, the lights or the darks.
Or you could choose center-weighted metering. The light meter will still evaluate all the zones, but the center zones will be given priority.
But what if your scene is full of contrasting lights and darks AND a big white blob in the center, which is going to fly away at any second?
That’s where spot metering reigns supreme.
In spot metering you point at a specific area, and the meter evaluates only the area you are pointing at.
And THAT, my friends, is why this delightfully leucistic red-tail hawk looks so delightful.
Buy one, get one free! That’s right, folks, you get TWO home sites for the price of one, both with an expansive and expensive waterfront view.
And one already has a home built on it!
But not for long. Because that already-built home is an active and well-established bald eagle nest. . .and it will not last long once home construction starts within 330′ of it.
In fact, 330′ is the minimum distance buffer zone proposed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and recognized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, because “[b]ald eagles exhibit greater sensitivity to disturbance when activities occur within full view of a bird.” So if the birds can see what’s going on, the distance buffer is doubled to “660′ for most activities.” (NYS Bald Eagle Protection Plan, 2015, p. 31).
However, home construction is not included in these guidelines for “most activities”
That’s because the NYS Bald Eagle Conservation Plan (2015) recognizes construction of any building a unique circumstance that warrants its own set of guidelines. Quoting from p. 33 of the Plan, “Construction of new buildings, roads, utilities or other permanent structures is not recommended within ¼ mile, or 1320 feet of an eagle nest, if there is no visual buffer.”
“If a visual buffer exists and the activity/feature is not visible from the nest, such activities should not occur within 660 feet of the nest site.”
What visual buffer? I don’t see one here on this property.
So, if I understand this correctly, 1320′ is the minimum distance for construction activities that occur within an eagle eye’s view, but it’s reduced to 660′ if it isn’t.
Even so, perhaps the developer could argue that maybe, just this once, this one home can slip through the regulatory cracks without causing much damage. I don’t think so. Because, there are other factors to consider.
What do residents of the lakefront do in their spare time — build docks? Go yachting? Or maybe go fishing, either from the dock or in an unmotorized boat? Or simply enjoy the water and the scenery from the dock or from a kayak or canoe?
These activities are innocent enough. . .as long as you do them while maintaining that 660′ distance buffer from your neighboring eagle’s nest.
Which is impossible unless your home is located well outside of that buffer. And clearly, any home built on this lot would not be.
It is my opinion (and I hope the opinion of the NYS DEC!) that this plot of land should never be approved as a potential home lot, regardless of whether the nest is currently active. Which it is.
Because if this nest is ever abandoned, it would become a secondary nesting site — and that would require protection.
According to the Plan, “. . .unoccupied or alternate nest sites also need to be protected from long-term disturbance with buffers, and should be considered part of the breeding territory [because] [a]lternate nests are frequently used in subsequent years” (p. 32).
Apparently this developer is fully aware of the protection he must enforce because a protective barrier was dumped here last summer (2019), providing the required 660′ of protection to this eagle nest.
But the rubble has since been removed, and a realtor’s sign has been placed there instead.
Did the NY DEC agree to this? Did they give the developer the green light to go ahead with plans to build on this lot? If so, why? I am awaiting their response to my query.
In the meantime, I don’t understand how, on October 16, 2020 at 8:39 a.m. (which is when I photographed the Keller Williams sign), a realtor actively sought buyers for a property that featured, along with a lakefront view, an active eagle nest.
I don’t understand how the developer AND the realtor (Cecilia Capezzuto for Keller Williams Realty, 585-924-5541) can do this, either morally, legally, or both. Maybe their vision is clouded by dollar signs. . .?
Here is where you can read the New York State Bald Eagle Protection Plan for yourself:
You can click links to federal regulations, including the Migratory Bird Act, from here, the US Fish & Wildlife Service:
The Migratory Bird Act also applies to protection of eagle nest sites, except for a brief period where it was “Trumped” in favor of big business. Thankfully, the courts overturned that suspension — and not a moment too soon. One observer wrote, “Had the Trump administration’s policy been in place at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, for example, British Petroleum would have avoided paying more than $100 million in fines to support wetland and migratory bird conservation to compensate for more than a million birds the accident was estimated to have killed.” But here, read the opinion for yourself:
Update: Good news from the NYS DEC!
Correspondence with “Jenny” at the Avon office of the NYS DEC tells a little more of the story.
In addition to the Migratory Bird Act, the Lacey Act, and NY State’s own Plan, there are several state DEC regulations that serve to monitor and protect endangered species, including eagles. Obviously, the DEC cannot prevent or regulate the sale of property, including property that host endangered species, “but any development of those lots would likely require permits from NYSDEC, including a Part 182 jurisdictional determination.” Part 182 permits are not handed out lightly; the process is rigorous and the requirements stringent. In fact, Jenny reports that she recalls only two such permits being issued by the state of NY, “both of which involved projects with a public benefit (wastewater treatment for example) rather than just a private or commercial project.” Clearly, if this landowner (or future ones) apply for a permit to build upon this property, “the applicant would have to develop and implement a plan that demonstrates that eagles. . .are better off for them having implemented their project.”
So, it looks like it’s two home lots but only one home that will occupy this property. What a relief!
Many thanks to Jenny for her detailed attention to this issue! I’m glad that people like her work to protect the eagles and other wildlife in Wayne County, NY.
What newbie wouldn’t be scared of ISO?
On one hand, it promises you brighter, better photos. . .
. . .but the other hand takes them away with great big blobs of grain.
Up to now, I simply ignored this third leg of the exposure triangle.
I figured that by keeping the ISO low (200 or below), I wouldn’t have to worry about grain.
But that limited my photos to bright light only, which brought new problems.
Adjusting the WB and/or using a CPL didn’t really fix things because I am still having a hard time distinguishing harsh light from bright light — until I see the evidence in my photos.
And no matter how I adjusted the white balance, cloudy-day photos were just too dark.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to face the problem of ISO like a big girl — and the sooner the better.
So, I took a deep breath and jumped in. After scouring the Internet, I found that just because a camera boasts a wide range of ISO doesn’t necessarily mean that it handles it well.
In fact, I found that sensor size is an important factor in ISO performance. So, forget bridge cameras — those tiny, less-than-an-inch sensors just won’t handle ISO well at all!
I decided to set my cameras to Auto ISO but with a limit to just how far it could go.
On my Canon 77d, which has an APS-C sensor, I found I could go as high as 128000 before the graininess became unacceptable.
But on my MFT cameras, I was better off setting the upper limit to 3200.
And the last remaining bridge camera I have — the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 — well, maybe I’ll sell it. It’s a great bright-light camera, but that’s all. For now, though, I think it will just sit on the shelf for a while.
Maybe these settings will change as I improve my technique. . .
. . .but for now, this is where they are going to stay
These small changes were quite effective!
I saw IMMEDIATE improvement light-wise.
Autofocus works better, now that there is no low light to struggle through.
Distinct detail is much better to achieve now that autofocus isn’t struggling. No more big, blobby subjects!
See for yourself!
All photos, including those above, were taken with the OM-D EM5iii wearing the Panasonic Lumix Vario OIS 100-300.
Which means you will have to get up early, before dawn even!
Because you can’t do the dew if the sun dries it up before you get there.
But it’s worth the extra effort of getting up and out of the house. The dew lets you see things you might have overlooked in the middle of the day. . .
. . .or which simply does not occur in the heat of the midday sun.
The spiders were very, very busy at the marsh yesterday. They must have captured lots of dinner, because just about every web I saw had insect-size holes in them.
And I saw a lot of webs.
Note to self: Don’t go traipsing around in the brush. . .unless you want to emerge with pantlegs full of sticky spider webs!!!
Animals have to eat. . .and they are more apt to do so early in the morning.
Usually I might see a few herons and maybe some gulls on a sunny (or not-so-sunny) afternoon. . .
. . .but early in the morning there are many more of them — plus a few osprey and an eagle or two — plying the water looking for a squirmy breakfast.
I stopped counting herons once I got to 20. They are a good barometer of marsh health — if there are a bunch of herons around, you know there is enough water to support fish. Lots of fish.
And if there are fish, there is plankton, the basis of the marsh food chain.
And if there are plankton and fish, there are bound to be frogs and other wiggly aquatic life, turtles (and turtle eggs), plus the furry land animals that like to eat the eggs.
It’s more than a food chain. . .now it’s a food web.
Yay for the marsh!
The frogs are everywhere, too.
Why the herons didn’t snatch up a frog or two I don’t know.
Frogs are easy pickings, much easier than waiting for just the right moment to catch a fish.
But the frogs were pretty much ignored by everyone but me.
I thought they were really cute.
You’d think they would have been quieter, though, what with all those hungry birds flying around.
I mean, why advertise yourself as a meal?
But for the birds it was fish on the menu, and soggy bog plants for everyone else.
More stuff from today’s doin’ the dew:
More specifically, Dragon-Flyday. They were everywhere! I have no idea of their names or what it is that they do, but they are difficult to capture. . .and so pretty! Well, almost. They aren’t as ugly as spiders or as fearsome as wasps. So, “almost pretty” will have to do. But not as pretty as butterflies!
But wait! There’s more!
I thought it was going to be one of those quiet summer days with wildlife languishing in the sun, too hot to forage or preen, thus limiting my photo ops to flowers and sparkly water.
But it was not meant to be, not if the blackbirds had anything to say.
Turns out they had a lot to say, and do!
Today there were a couple of blackbirds hanging around the Eagle Tree,
and they were feeling kind of frisky.
Frisky enough to torment birds much larger than they are. . .and they’ve set their sights on this eagle, who was minding his own business and thought it was a good idea to rest and maybe snooze for a while.
Blackbirds may be little, but they are feisty. . .feisty enough to torment a bird more times their size!
They dart about so quickly that the eagle has no time to say “Watch out! Here comes a blackbird!”
Because before those words are even out of his mouth (or beak. . .) he’s saying “Which way did it go???”
All the eagle can do is try to scare it away with loud shrieks and squawks.
. . .while the rest of us return to the flowers standing as silent testimony to the hot and now-quiet summer afternoon. . .
These photos were all taken with the Olympus EM-5iii and the Panasonic G Vario O.I.S. 100-300 lens.
The JPG processor in this camera, as it is in all Olympus cameras, is outstanding. Unlike the DSLRs, what you see in the viewfinder is what you get in the image. No need for postprocessing at all, unless you want to resize.
And if you are a diehard RAW shooter, Olympus offers in-camera processing for your RAW files as well. Amazing!
Saw this on the June 25 edition of Ugly Hedgehog and just had to share:
The Ugly Hedgehog. Some people love it, some people hate it. You get to make your own decision by checking it out here, https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/newsletter.jsp?np=1
Summer is like that. Sometimes it’s just too hot and too dry. . .even for an eagle!
The water levels are still very low at the National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s breezy and cool out in the marsh, much more so than on the hot and dusty Wildlife Drive that encircles it.
So, it was no surprise to find an eagle resting on a muskrat lodge. Even at a distance of about 350′, I could see it was an eagle, and an adult one at that.
The afternoon sun was positioned behind the bird and was rather harsh, even late in the afternoon. None of this bodes well for the newbie photographer, but I wasn’t scared. Besides, there was some good news: The sun’s angle provided some great reflections in the water; the bad news was it also provided some not-so-great reflections off the eagle’s very white head. So, I had to settle for rim light and fuzzy features as long as the sun provided backlight.
I’ve got to get a polarizing filter for this lens!!
At first I thought this eagle was drying its wings. Cormorants often strike this pose when drying out — they have to, they are almost always in the water, but eagles not so much. I thought it was unusual enough to stop and watch.
It rested on the muskrat lodge for maybe 20 minutes, sometimes posing with wings held out and sometimes not.
Ooops, got an itch!
And then it was up, up and away. . .
. . .to the Eagle Tree, a mostly dead tree on the Seneca Canal (east) side of Wildlife Drive that provides a safe roost for herons and egrets but mostly for eagles. . .
. . .it’s where this eagle resumed its unusual posture. But now it was no longer 350′ or so out on the marsh, it was maybe 50′ away.
And now the sunlight was working with me, not against me 🙂 Yay!
I could see that the eagle wasn’t drying its wings, or drying anything else for that matter.
Its beak was open, exposing its tongue,
I never knew eagles had tongues!
It was panting.
Eagles don’t sweat, so they hold out their wings and pant to cool off.
(They also lose some body heat through their unfeathered legs.)
Poor thing was hot! Too hot to fish. . .
It was so hot that all it could do was rest in the eagle tree and pant.
In fact, this eagle was just as hot as the gaggle of photographers that now surrounded me, struggling to get the best spot to capture a digital glimpse of it, resting, panting, and otherwise cooling off high above us.
But I was the lucky one! I had been the first to notice the eagle sitting on the muskrat house, and I knew about the eagle tree nearby. I suspected that if this particular eagle didn’t end up in the tree, another one would likely do so.
So, I already occupied the best eagle-viewing spot on the Drive, long before anyone else noticed a brown bird-like silhouette off in the distance and pulled over to investigate.
Plus, I had my EM5iii with me, with its remarkable five-axis in-body image stabilization, and the Panasonic Lumix 100-300 O.I.S. lens — no need for a tripod at only 50′!
All that my east-side eagle tree photos needed was a little cropping. A good day!
Some flight views. . .
It’s not the only eagle to take advantage of muskrat lodges:
Even juvies know all about the eagle tree:
The outstanding reflections were not limited to wildlife:
. . . with apologies to Ray Stevens 😉
Sometimes you just need lots of fps, a bright, sunny day, and a subject with no shame.