Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Retail Politics

This is not new news, but the recent Indiana law - misinterpreted or not - reminds me that I always meant to post about this.

I'm the owner of a few items of Really Right Stuff gear, most notably lens plates but I also use their BH-55 head which has its issues but is a fairly good ball head. However I've stopped buying new products from them, not for hardware performance reasons, but for philosophical reasons.

It was when I was researching the replacement clamp for the BH-55 that I came across a snippet of news, as shown in this thread: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/956293 . The owner of RRS had donated a substantial amount of money in support of the "Yes on 8" campaign. California Proposition 8 aimed to ban same-sex marriage in California via constitutional amendment.  For a while it succeeded.  Privately-owned company, and the company as a whole does not have anything on its website concerning this but nevertheless it came to light because of California reporting laws.

In a country where discrimination of this type is still a big factor, and where I also have multiple choices for hardware (Kirk, Markins etc), it's difficult for me to justify buying from a company like RRS.

Allen's Hummingbird, California

I stopped in California en route to visit family in Australia this past December and basically found Allen's Hummingbirds all over the place in the LA area - many of them pugnacious males apparently staking out some sort of territory.  This bird was at Madrona Marsh in Torrance and allowed me to approach slowly while eyeing me warily.  I was testing out the Tamron 100-600 zoom at the time, and the light conditions were marginal.  I have mixed feelings about this lens but this came out quite well under the circumstances.

I probably saw more Allen's on the few days bracketed either side of my Oz flights than I had in all previous visits combined.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

I shot this earlier in April when I was using the older 500mm lens (I was feeling lazy/sore and wanted to go a little lighter than my 800mm).  Ruby-crowned Kinglets are always hyper and getting one to stop still for a moment, much less one where I can frame it and focus on it in that timeframe, always involves throwing out at least 90% of my attempts which are usually a comical mix of subject blur and fragments of tail feathers as most of the bird has already left the scene.

Although in this case the fact that I was shooting prior to full leaf-out (due late April) raised the odds slightly.   The 500/4L is a little faster to focus than the 800/5.6L which probably helps.

Photo Harvesting Sites

A comment on one of my photos on Flickr this morning prompted me to go look at Tallenge, a photo site that touts itself as "Earth's Largest Talent Platform" and suggesting that dollars, exposure and fame can be mine if I submit my photographs there.

Alternatively, it's just another photo grabbing site, as judged by the legalese in their license agreement:

"By submitting your Entry, you irrevocably grant Tallenge, its successors, subsidiaries, parent and related companies, transferees, licensees, assignees, and third parties acting on Tallenge's behalf, a perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide, royalty-free right and license to use, exhibit, license, sub-license, distribute, perform, post, display, copy, publish, promote, re-format, reproduce, prepare derivative works of, adapt, make available online or electronically transmit and exploit the Submission, for free, in whole or in part, alone or in combination with other content or material, for any purpose whatsoever, in any in any media formats and through any media channels known now or devised in the future (including by way of example but in no way a limitation, the Internet, television, IPTV, home video/DVD, theatrical, mobile devices, and through any future means or methods of downloading and/or streaming now known or hereinafter devised), on the Tallenge website or any associated media platform connected to Tallenge."

Yes, they could be doing that so they can hype your photos for you and make you rich, or this is just another grab at your photo rights where they have unlimited usage rights to make money of your images.  It's by no means rare amongst photo competition sites, so you must always check the license conditions before submitting photos there.  (Note that Facebook and other social media sites that allow photo display are also prone to do this sort of thing).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Red-necked Grebe

This adult Red-necked Grebe was on Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage, and not terribly phased by people.  The trickier part of it was getting a decent approach while the sun was actually out, since sunshine was somewhat at a premium in the last few days of my AK trip while I was in Anchorage.  But for about a minute everything came together.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Least Sandpiper

After a little hiatus for the summer, which featured trips to the FL Keys and more adventurously to Alaska, time to resume with some season-relevant birds.  This one's a Least Sandpiper shot at Jamaica Bay back in early fall 2008, basically at Least Sandpiper eye level.  It's a juvenile so in very fresh plumage - the adults are still in worn alternate/breeding plumage at that date - with some rather nice warm colors from a very early start to my day.  Least Sandpipers favor feeding in more grassy environments than Semipalmated Sandpipers so they're often foraging amongst the emergent mud grasses that grow quickly on the exposed mud at that time of the year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Leucistic White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) are anything but exotic in New York City, with large numbers overwintering in a typical year and still quite a few in the exceptionally mild winter of 2011/2012. This individual, however manages to be quite a striking example of leucism with most of the feathers on the head turned white. The yellow lores are made even more striking, and the residual crown stripes are especially dark, suggesting that these things are partially masked by the brown and gray coloration that usually manifests on the head.

This bird was seen on the morning of April 15th in Central Park, spotted by Morgan Tingley, but undoubtedly the same individual that I saw briefly the previous morning in the same general area. Hard to miss, this bird, with such a white head.