Summertime Nature in New Jersey: Sourland Mountain Preserve.
Life and Death in Nature. It was a great day to photograph nature at the Sourland Mountain Preserve. Many Butterflies, Clearwing Hummingbird Moths, Dragonflies,Summertime Nature in New Jersey: Sourland Mountain Preserve. Robberflies, and a few Praying Mantis carnivores. I went in with two cameras, a D3s camera with a 300 mm f/2.8 VR with an TC-E III 20 teleconverter and a D3x camera with a 105 mm f/2.8 VR macro. Humidity was high, and I had to spend the first 15 minutes equilibrating the lenses so they were not fogged. The first place I went to was the location I observed a Praying Mantis eating a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth yesterday. The first image is a Black Swollowtail Butterfly on a Thistle bloom. Soon thereafter a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth started checking out the Thistle blooms. DANGER! DANGER! It didn’t see the Praying Mantis. Minutes later the moth was breakfast for the Praying Mantis. Later, another Black Swollowtail Butterfly was breakfast to a brown Praying Mantis.
Bats in Flight at Dusk. This evening as it was getting dark I noticed there were several bats flying around in my backyard. I knew that it would be a challenge to capture an image of the bats as they darted around chasing insects. The following images were taken with a Nikon D3s camera at 12800 or 102400 ISO using a 400 mm f/2.8 D II lens. The bats were moving too fast to follow using a tripod or monopod, so I was doing this hand-held. This is not a combination that you can hand-hold for long periods. I also wish that I had the VR version of this lens. There was no way that autofocus would work, so I manually set the focus distance to 25 feet and shot in high-speed burst mode anytime the bats flew by at about that distance. Of about 600 images, the following 6 were the best. I am open to suggestions how to do a better job capturing images of bats in flight.
Snack Time. This doe was minding her own business mowing my lawn when all of a sudden these two fawns ran up from both sides looking for some milk. I guess that they are not completely weaned yet, even though they went back to eating grass as soon as they were done.
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Soaring Turkey Vulture. This week Thom Hogan has been publishing reviews of Nikon “Exotic” lenses. By Exotic, he is referring to the big telephoto lenses: 200 mm f/2, 300 mm f/2.8, 400 mm f/2.8, 500 mm f/4, and 600 mm f/4. In the reviews, he really likes the 400 mm f/2.8. I have an earlier version of the 400 mm f/2.8 D II (before VR or VR II). I decided to take it out this afternoon. Rather than showing some more images of the local deer, I’ll share an image of a soaring turkey vulture. The image was taken hand-held (yes this is a heavy lens (4620 g, nearly 10 lbs) — and even heavier when you add-on the camera body). The image is cropped significantly as the vulture was soaring well above the house.
If the sky stays clear tonight, I will try some full moon images with this lens (alone and with the TC-E III 20 teleconverter), and some star-trails looking for Perseid meteor trails.
Young Fawn Hiding in the Woods. When I got home, I saw the rabbit in the same location as this morning. I then saw this fawn hiding in the woods. Its mother left it in the shade. It stayed perfectly still nearly camouflaged while I took some pictures. It was relatively dark in the shade, and I had to push the ISO to 1600. Even then, the exposure times were 1/25 and 1/40 sec. It is a good thing that the lens has VR such that I could get a relatively sharp image.