Context images for this Birds by Dave project include some locations mentioned, and notes about camera gear, circumstances of the photoshoot, and other background.

First, my gear that is currently in use includes a Nikon D-850, usually handheld. With weight of the rig now more a factor on trails, I have used a Cotton Carrier socketed vest to hang camera and lens using better distribution and more comfort. This also stops that annoying swing side to side produced by neck strap carry! When doing hand held shots, especially of birds, I generally use high ISO settings and high shutter speeds; typical would be ISO 2,500 and shutter 1/2500th for birds in flight. Except on the gloomiest of days that still (a) stops wings, and (b) overcomes long lens wiggle plus body vibration effects. With passing years, it has become harder to hold a 400MM lens stuck on a full frame Nikon without having difficulty in maintaining "the dot" through my lens on a fidgety flitting passerine whose portion of even the zoomed frame can be not much more than a tiny percent. Therefore, I have gone back to using tripod support. Gosh! My images got sharper again after that! Pictured herewith is the D-850 mounted with Nikkor 80-400 MM lens on a Wimberly gimbal tripod head, which in turn sits atop a Manfrotto IPRO tripod. It is noted that this getup weighs somewhat more than a case of good wine, so my strategy is to scout a likely spot, schlepp my gear, set up and be patient. That's behavioral change: I used to trudge a trail with gear, scanning ahead for a flutter.


Port Townsend area, Olympic Peninsula

Image is a photograph I made in 2016 from a vantage point on the west side of our Peninsula, an area called North Beach. This is an angle not usually seen by tourists, as most that go to see the lighthouse approach it through Fort Worden State Park, which is inclusive of the lighthouse and many WW2 and older Army base buildings which are to the right, out of view in this photo. Fort WordenPt. Wilson Light House in Puget Sound from North Beach was part of a trio of coastal artillery sites that were designed to provide defensive crossfire in the event of a Naval attack on the Seattle area. First constructed back in the 1890s, it's last service was WW 2 as the whole concept of coastal defensive artillery became obsolete. The Lighthouse was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and converted to an electronically operated light plus radar station which fits into a small box compared to the size of that manned lighthouse.

In this view, you are seeing things from a curved strand of pebble and rock that ends at the lighthouse on this side. On the other side of the light, the water makes a turn towards Seattle and has a new name, Admiralty Inlet. Prior to that lighthouse point it has the name Strait of Juan DeFuca. The open ocean is about fifty miles to the left, the Cascade Range is fifty miles distant, and the land seen across the water is Whidby Island, the second largest Island in the continental US, second to Manhattan.

All of the local topography is product of glaciation. The striations you see on Whidby Island are layers of glacial till deposited by retreating ice, the last of which ended about 15,000 years ago, recent enough for there to have been human witnesses. The Cascade range is volcanic in origin, but were I to turn around and photograph these mountains on the Olympic Peninsula behind me, all of them were created by uplifting due to colliding tectonic plates, no volcanic material at all. One plate subducting under, with the assaulting plate rising up to build these Olympics...

Any chunks of granite here are glacial erratics transported from Canada by ice; there is such a stone in our yard that has about six feet sticking out of the ground which I am told is only 15% of the total. It is the reason that nobody built upon that lot - which is now part of our land.

Whidby Island houses among other things, Naval Air Station Whidby Island, where carrier pilots are trained to operate the EA18 Growler aircraft and to land and launch from carriers. At the far end of Whidby Island is a high arch bridge built during the Depression to connect Whidby Island to Fidalgo Island; Highway 20 running across that pair of islands goes on to Anacortes, a major refinery port. Between Fidalgo and Whidby is a tidal rush with massive whirlpools which was named by Captain Vancouver as Deception Pass, as his hope that it provided passage beyond was explored unsuccessfully, using rowed longboats. In these photos you will find one under "Herons" showing two river otters playing on the shingle with a Great Blue Heron watching; they are almost underneath the Deception Pass Bridge.

400MM telephoto foreshortens distances quite a bit: Whidby Island is four and a half miles away across the shipping lane. Too, the high humidity provides unavoidable "atmospheric effects" for any long distance shot.

Other haunts in which some of these images were made: that Cardinal was the furthest east, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Northernmost was Homer, Alaska, where my shot was made of Kittiwakes doing ballet around an ATON, Aid To Navigation. Southernmost so far, was those delightful little Burrowing Owls, obtained at Sonny Bono Wildlife reserve at Salton Sea, California. Nisqually NWR in Washington, several other Wildlife Reserves near Sacramento, Ridgefield WA, and Malheur NWR in Oregon provided me with a number of images, as did the Washington, Oregon, California coastal areas. Many photos resulted from sitting on our deck with a glass of wine and camera, watching visitors to our feeders, as well as traipsing the trails in Washington.


Dave standing in front of a little store at Icicle Point, Alaska. Click to enlarge that, and you will see a little Photoshoppery: I added a distance/direction pointer sign to Port Townsend.  Dave Grainger



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   ~~ Birds by Dave Carefully Created by Hal Singer ~~