Today for the Ornithology Science and Art May term, we headed over to the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden at The Strong. This was great for many of the first time middle school photographers, as there were plenty of opportunities to get some great shots of the birds and butterflies which, for the most part, were completely still. Having been here before and not as new to photography, I settled in to try to take some select shots and help other students if they asked. I used my Nikon D3300. A favorite of mine was the owl butterfly, especially since we shot actual owls from Wild Wings, Inc the other day. Owl butterflies use Batesian mimicry, which is when harmless animals use markings to resemble threatening animals to ward off predators.
We often see photography of birds in flight or with their wings expanded. I enjoy taking a different look at these birds, tucked into their nests. Here are a few more shots from May Term Ornithology Science and Art class at AC. These shots were taken either on Allendale Columbia’s nature trail, which is right on campus, Mendon Ponds Park, or the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.
This past week, during AC’s May term, we had guests from Wild Wings, Inc. visit our campus. Wild Wings is a not-for-profit educational organization that cares for permanently injured birds of prey. This was part of an Ornithology Science and Art May term course. It was great seeing the birds out of a cage and close up, which allowed us to get a true sense of their personalities.
Today, a few classmates and I experimented with high speed photography during May Term in our “In the Blink of an Eye” photography course. We used two DLSR cameras so we could capture images at different angles. The DSLRS used were a Nikon D3300 and a Canon 80d which were both mounted on tripods. In high speed photography, having a still camera is crucial for a good picture.
The settings used on the cameras were a shutter speed set at BULB and an aperture of 5.6. We then mounted an Altura Flash to a Vanguard Monopod. We had the flash and the cameras pointed at a table with a black cloth covering it. Also, we had a black velvet backdrop that was clamped to the wall behind the table. Attached to the table was a sensor which then had a wire that ran to the flash. The role of the sensor was that when a loud noise was heard it would trigger the flash to go off. We placed various fruits on the table and one of us stood behind with a hammer. We created a system to have efficient shooting of the fruit. First, someone would turn off the light switch when both the people operating the cameras were ready. Once the light had been turned off, the shutters of the two cameras would be released by the people operating them. Once this was done, the cameramen would then tell the person behind the table to strike the fruit. The loud noise of the hammer would trigger the sensor making one single flash. After the flash was made, the cameramen then closed the shutter. The lights could then have been turned off after that. The reason why it was crucial to have a dark room was because when the cameras were set to bulb, no light was getting in when the shutter was opened. When the sensor was triggered it allowed light to enter the camera at the exact same moment as when the hammer made contact with the fruit. This made it so the only image registered by the camera was that event. This process led to some very interesting pictures and I am excited to do this tomorrow again.
Melinda is a beautiful barn owl at Wing Wilds, Inc in Honeoye Falls, New York. Wild Wings is a place where permanently injured, non-releasable birds are housed and cared for. As part of our May Term at Allendale Columbia, we were lucky to visit Wild Wings and photograph some of these amazing birds. Melinda by far was the most photogenic, allowing me to take some great close up shots. This is a special place for me since when my Grandfather passed away a few years ago, our family requested any donations to go to Wild Wings. These birds are beautiful and the work they do here is important to help people learn about these animals and how to protect and respect them.
Today we had to switich things up due to the weather. BayCreek Paddling was not an option, so we headed over to the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden at The Strong. This was great for many of the first time photographers, as there were plenty of opportunities to get some great shots of the birds and butterflies.
For Day 2 of May Term, we headed off to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for the Ornithology Science and Art Field Work class. It’s about an hour from Rochester, and right off the New York State Thruway. It is just short of 10,000 acres of both dry and wetlands set aside for the nesting, feeding, breeding, and resting of waterfowl and other migratory birds. We are fortunate to be so close and we will head back for another day tomorrow. No bald eagle sightings, but maybe tomorrow will be our chance. I’m so excited to go back. May Term is such an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I go to a school that doesn’t keep me sitting at a desk taking exams when there is so much out there to learn.
Today was the first day of May Term for us at Allendale Columbia. May Term is a time toward the end of the school year where we can choose coursework from a variety of different things and specialize to our interests. After seeing an offering for ornithology and photography, I was excited to sign up.
We spent a majority of the first morning with a refresher on how to use a camera for those who didn’t have experience from Mrs. Wun, the Upper School art and photography teacher. We also had a visit from former Allendale Columbia Biology teacher, Mr. Paul Amber, who was kind enough to give us a tour of campus and the nature trail while helping to identify birds. Mrs. Lisi, who is one of the instructors, also had a former student who is an ornithologist in Maryland who Skyped with our class. It’s great having my photography teacher Mrs. Wun and science teacher Mrs. Lisi team up in this course, which brings two of my favorite things together; wildlife and photography.
I’m very excited about tomorrow as we head to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see a bald eagle and get a good photo.
National Geographic has a great community site for sharing photography. I know there are many of these sites out there, but Nat Geo Your Shot by far has been the most influential to me. I have used the site for the past 2 1/2 years, and in that time and gotten great feedback from other photographers on my work. My favorite part about National Geo Your Shot are the assignments. I think it’s very easy for me to get caught up in taking only wildlife photography, which is a passion of mine. The assignments and stories part of the site let the editors give an assignment for photographers like myself to submit photographs to that fit a particular theme. I have enjoyed challenging myself on themes just as “The Gift of Life”, “Invisible Worlds” and “Facing your Fears”, After the editors close the entry period, they craft a story that is then published. I love reading these stories and seeing which photographs made the final cut. I haven’t earned this yet, but I hope to keep submitting my photographs, as my goal is to someday be part of a published story.
What has been really wonderful for me is to be selected as an “editor favorite”. These are special shout-outs from the editors for liking my submission, and some of these shots may have been at least considered for a published piece. The fact that a few of my photos were liked have kept me excited about trying to become better at my work. An even bigger plus is when an editor leaves a comment. For me, that is the best thing that can happen, as I know that a professional who liked my work took the time to let me know that.
National Geographic Your Shot also just added a “follow” feature, which allows a photographer to follow another photographer’s work. I do not have a large following at all, but the fact that 8 people decided to keep track of my work is a great start and something I think I hope to improve on. There’s no catch. It’s free, and for a high school student like me, the feedback is priceless.