Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Know How It Goes

As I struggled with the numbness in my fingers, my camera resting on my gloved hand on the fence, I watched the convey of Grey partridge through the viewfinder of my camera. I have to say that I felt it was worth frozen fingers, as I enjoy this type of photography involving wildbirds in the winter months. I had hopes of capturing megapixels of Snowy Owls, down from their Arctic homes for the winter. However, I was not having any luck on this morning, but was pleased when a covey of grey partridge flew across the road in front of my truck, and landed in a field near the road.

I pulled over and watched them through my binoculars for a time, as the covey foraged through the snow looking for breakfast on this snowy winter morning. I reached for my long lens and ratcheted the lens in place on to my camera body. ,I was able to use my truck as a blind until I entered the opposite ditch away from the field where the covey foraged. I then used the road as a blind until I was far enough down the road where I crossed back over, and then worked my way back along the fence line that bordered the field that the partridge were foraging in. With a fair amount of cover from dead grass, and weeds entwined in the fence, I was able to get to within a comfortable distance of this covey of partridge, where I would would be able to shoot full frame images of individual birds. I flopped down in the snow and was fortunate to be wearing my camo parka that blended in nicely with the dead grasses that I was using as a blind. I pushed the grass down in front of my lens, and not having my tripod or my bean-bag, I resorted to using the fence that I lie behind as a camera support. The individual birds of the covey were quite comical to watch, as they would disappear under the snow for a while, and then pop back up in a different location. I fired off captures of the individual birds, while checking the histogram on the LCD of my camera, making slight adjustments for the brightness of the snow, that threatened to underexpose my captures. I finally decided that I couldn't handle any more cold in my fingers, as I only had light fleece gloves on, and headed back to my truck parked on the road.

Once the feeling in my fingers returned, I proceeded to drive down the road a ways and had not gone more than a kilometer, when I came up on a cross road that had a shelter-belt along one side that went for about 2 kilometers.
I made the turn, as I suspected that I would possibly spot birds taking shelter from the wind and blowing snow. I was proven right with my capture of a American Tree Sparrow as he went about picking seeds from weeds in the roadside ditch. From time to time the sparrow would retreat to the shrubbery lining the roadway, but soon would be back for more foraging amongst the weeds in the snow filled ditch. The seeds in the seed heads of these weeds, were not quite within his reach, and the sparrow was amusing to watch as he would take a leap up from the snow, making a lunge for the seed-heads. Every third attempt or so, he was successful in coming away with seeds in its beak.

While driving, I tuned the vfo on my HF radio through the various frequencies on 80 meters. Part of my fascination with amateur radio, is the fact that it goes well with my wandering the back-roads of southern Alberta in search of my next photograph. Some time back I was kept busy in my machine-shop, designing and building a multi-band mobile antenna. I had used design parameters for what I hoped would be the ultimate multiband mobile antenna, as I plan on building and offering a copy of this antenna to the serious mobile amateur radio enthusiast. The fun part on this morning besides shooting photos of course, was the on-going testing of my antenna that is proving to be a very efficient design. After the extreme cold of last week, with temperatures dropping to -30 Celsius along with snow coming down over the course of a week, I am now confident that I have no serious issues to deal with, once I began construction of the first multiband antennas that I make available to serious amateur radio enthusiasts. As I drove along, I checked in to the ARES net (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) on 3750mhz at 9:00am, and I then spent some time with the guys on 3690mhz, that included Bill-VE6JD, Bill-VA6BW, as well as Jerry-VE6WG before moving up to 3700mhz, where I hooked up with Egon-VE6EGN,out of Drayton Valley, and Andy-VE6KP located near Wetaskiwin in central Alberta. Before long, I realized that I was beginning to see shadows on the snow, and realized that the snow had stopped with the sun having a hazy presence in the southern sky. Wouldn't you know it, the time had come for me to call it a morning, and after struggling with the flat light all morning.....well, you know how it goes.

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