This is my contribution to The Lens-Artists challenge. This week Tina Shell challenged us with the topic “All Wet”. I’m quite late with my response.
I met these wet cranes last fall when I was heading home. Suddenly there were hundreds of them in the fields all wet from the constant rain.
These cranes resting on a harvested patch in northeastern Germany. In this region, the cranes stay for approximately 4 weeks in fall before heading to the south of France and Spain to spend the winter in those warmer areas.
This year we saw plenty of birds, but only few of them were adolescents. The last two years were hard for them because they need wetlands to find food and also for protecting their nests from predators like foxes. The two last years were very hot compared with the usual summers. The months of summer also lacked rain. And the last winter was also way too dry so that the reservoirs were not properly refilled before the next hot summer started.
This hot summer ended way earlier than the last one, although the temperatures were much higher. We cracked the 40°C mark. While the highest measured temperature in 2018 was 39°C (36°C where I live), we got 43°C this year where I live. In 2018 the fall started in about mid-November, while it started this year by the end of July to get back to our ‘normal’ summerly weather and even fall started early. Up to now, we have several wet weeks again. No hard rain, but much of spray-rain and drizzling. Showers every now and then. I really hope, this will be enough to refill the natural reservoirs.
This week it’s Tina‘s turn and she asked for doubles.
Here I have 2 common cranes about to land. I took this image 3 weeks ago.
It’s fall and the cranes are coming together after the first part of their trip south. Thousands of them meet in this region near the baltic sea to feed themselves and prepare for the second part of the fall migration to the south of France and southern Spain where they stay during winter.
This is probably a couple. Cranes live in a lifelong partnership. Despite this fact, they have specific courtship behavior: a courtship dance. While there is no specific difference in the appearance, you can’t decide well between males and females. You can only distinguish between males and females when they stand near each other: the female is slightly smaller.
It’s definitely autumn now. Last night at least 2 troops of cranes flew over our house and heading south.
The image above is taken about 3 weeks ago. They were resting near the baltic sea. In that area, they stay for about 4 weeks. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t that good for wildlife photography. But, I’m happy for having seen them again. This time, my wife was with me. She isn’t in photography and not interested in observing wildlife. But, she was also very impressed.
Cranes flee very easy. They have a fleeing distance of about 300 m. And you better not disturb them, because every flight needs energy and they need the energy for their next long-distance flight to the south to their destinations in southern France and Spain. So, either be in the observing place before the cranes come (that’s long before sunrise) and stay there until they left (after sunset) or observe them from a distance (also from a hide).
What I noticed this year was, there were not many adolescents with the adults. You now, they only have one or a maximum of two eggs in a season. But this fall, most of the adults hadn’t had any kid. The most probable reason is the two hot summers and the dry winter between them. So, the wetlands weren’t wet which results in unsafe nest places and less food.
APS-C, ISO 800, 400mm (~600mm)
Another image for my trip last fall for photographing common cranes in north-east Germany.
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), ISO 3200, f5.6, 1/1600s
Last fall I was on a trip for photographing cranes during their migration pause.
Earlier this week, I read on an Icelandic news site about puffins (the iconic bird representing Icelandic wildlife) and common seals were critically endangered of being extinct soon, when men don’t manage to reverse this development.
Source of the decrease of population is different for those two species. While the puffins are endangered by the climatic changes around Iceland, despite they are protected by certain laws. But, the warming of the sea makes their food, a special kind of fish, vanish. So, the puffins don’t find enough to feed themselves and their breed.
The common seals, on the other hand, are not protected by any laws in Iceland. They are endangered by hunts and being caught as bycatch. This year’s counting flights yielded the lowest number of common seals ever.
You know, each species depends on other species and relies on other species. The whole planet depends on this balanced system. So, when only one tiny part gets out of balance, this will have a massive impact on other parts. Help getting nature back in balance! Otherwise, we humans will soon live on a planet without any other life (neither plants nor animals). No oxygen, no food and no fresh and unpolluted water. Our only companion might be the roach because of their ability to live even in environments hostile to life.
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), ISO 3200, f5.6, 1/60s
Last fall I was on a trip for photographing cranes during their migration pause.
Recently, I got a review version of the upcoming version “Luminar 2018″ V. 1.2.0 Jupiter. for a short time.
Upgrade was as easy as usual: simply drawing the app in my Applications folder. I had the feeling, the software start doesn’t need as long as before. The interface seemed familiar without any noticeable changes. All presets seemed to be still available. Also, the workflow is the same.
So, I took some of my images for my crane trip last fall and developed them from raw again.
I was quite impressed by the results when comparing the outcome with the one from last fall using Luminar V. 1.0.0: more details, better results in the mid-tones and much better noise-reduction. The noise reduction is so good now, than I’m considering deleting the old app “Noiseless CK”.
For me, a good noise reduction is crucial. When doing wildlife photography, I have to use high ISO settings because I want very short shutter speeds for getting sharp images. You know the apertures triangle: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. As I usually have to use long focal lenses, which are not so fast as shorter focal lenses because of physical limitations. Additionally, the longer a lens, the smaller the field of depth is. This brings in another level of light shortage.
Some of the other new features are:
- higher speed during import and processing
- automatic distortion correction
- improved Demosaicing and green balance
- support of DCP profiles (Mac)
- higher speed when importing raw images (Mac)
- the functionality of the Windows version is adapted to the Mac version by adding support for batch processing, free transformation, rotation and mirroring
Luminar 2018 Jupiter comes as a free upgrade for all current users of Luminar 2018. Users having a previous version of Luminar are eligible for upgrading on a reduced rate. For those of you, not having Luminar already, might consider giving it a try. There’s a free evaluation version available for download for MacOS and for Windows.
When using this code “SOLANER” you can save some money and get your perks anyway 😃.
Those of you, following me on Instagram might have guessed I’m on a trip again, and they were right. For a few days the pendulum inside me as a nature photographer turned from ‘landscape mode’ to ‘wildlife mode’.
I was part of an excursion team for photographing the common cranes while they rest in that region and before they start to the second part of their fall migration. For the first days of my trip I started alone and got some amazing results. Cranes are extremely shy. They have a fleeing distance of about 300m (some rangers even said 900m – but, I can’t believe that). You have to avoid to disturb them. Every start to fly costs much of their energy. And this energy is needed for the migration. They have to eat much to have enough energy for the long and exhausting trip. On the second part they fly from north-eastern Germany to Southern France or Spain. The birds are big. They are about 120cm high (females a bit smaller) and have a wing spread of about 200 – 240 cm.
Most of them life in wet forests in Poland, Russia and the Baltic, but also in Scandinavia. They have only 1 or 2 eggs and each of the parents take care of one fledgling. Now, the fledglings are nearly as big as the parents. But, you can still recognise them easily.
With the excursion team, we got permission to enter some restricted parts of the National Park “Mecklenburgische Boddenlandschaft”. We observed the arrival of the cranes in their sleeping area and the morning start.
Another high-light was the morning trip on our last day: observing the deer rut. About 15 males bellowed in the huge lighting and trying to collect females. Nearly all of them didn’t have had a female, while one stag has had a harem of 21 females (just, like ABBA sang: the winner takes it all). Nevertheless the stags were comparing their strength in bellowing, walking and fighting. Amazing time.
During the excursion I got lent a f/5.6 800mm lens that I used on my APS-C camera (so, I got 1200mm). A very heavy lens, usable only with a tripod. Fortunately, mine was strong enough the carry that burden. My own longest lens is only 400mm. In combination with the tele-converter I also get 800mm, but with lower quality. That combination is less bright and thus less fast. While the 800mm lens does not have an image stabilizer (but a tripod), but I have a working AF. On my 400mm with tele-converter the AF only works under good light conditions.
Most of my images are taken with ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 at f/5.6 or f/6.3 at distances of more than 200 – 300 m. So, the 800mm lens was a necessity to get good images.
Don’t forget, to view the gallery below this post. I already developed a few images an attached them to this post in no particular order.
Help saving our environment and the animals to make this planet a good place to live in for us and the following generations. Also, keep this planet in good shape for your kids, so that the following generations are also able to gaze at the marvellous events and places through their own eyes instead of having to trust ancient documentaries.
What a cruel summer! We have August 1st. That’s in the middle of the summer, the middle of the hottest days of the year. But, the thermometer says: +5°C at night and max. +15°C at day. We still get much of rain very often. Leaves are starting to colorize yellow and many of them have already fallen down. The plants behave like they are already preparing for winter. Mushrooms pop up and hazelnuts are ripe. Yesterday I’ve even heard the first group of cranes migrating to the south. Other birds are still growing their descendants. I also missed the swallows and the swifts chasing flying insects for some days. Perhaps they have already begun their migration, too.
I guess, this year summer is skipped. What a queer year 😦