Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden at the Strong- AC May Term 2018

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.


Peeking out

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.

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High Speed Photography – How It’s Done

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.unnamed-1.jpgunnamed.jpg

Back to Basics

School, sports, and life have been busy, and I forgot about how much photography can make me happy. I’ve taken some photos, but haven’t had the time to post them here. Here are some random shots that I particularly like that have no particular theme.  I am still using my Nikon DSLR3300, and am hoping to upgrade as soon as I save up some money.

A Guinea Turaco tips his head as he spots me with my camera.
“Armor” – I liked the contrast of the metal grate, which seems like armor to me and the hard shell of this bug.
Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls Canada – Extraterrestrial or Extra Touristy?
True Colors. I often take photography of the heads of these birds, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by this macaw’s colorful feathers.

Where My Camera Might Take Me

The Madagascar trip will be forever be in my brain as an amazing opportunity to have seen some pretty incredible wildlife and scenery. It has taught me to be patient and slow down to look at the smallest details. Even though I have been home for many months, I continue to think about the trip and how I can continue to travel to learn more about photography and nature. Hopefully, another opportunity will present itself to me in the future. Until then, I continue to take macrophotography in my own backyard.  dsc_1826csc_1845dsc_1822dsc_1800dsc_1716

Master of Macro – David Liittschwager

It was great to be able to observe National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager while in Madagascar.  He was working on his famous One Cubic Foot Project and students from our school, Allendale Columbia, were able to assist when we could.  I was able to watch him work some of the days and learn about his camera setup and the way he takes such amazing photographs for his projects. We collected some of the samples for his work, and I was able to find time to try my own photography.


Centre ValBio

Centre ValBio is an amazing world class research facility on the edge of Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar. It’s under the direction  and leadership of primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright. This was home base for us as we travelled and learned in Madagascar. We were lucky to be so close to Dr. Wright and where she does her research. Dr. Wright taught us quite a bit about the Centre, its mission, and even let us see some of her current research on bones.

A view from CVB
A Chabert Vanga perched on a tree near the balcony of CVB
A view of CVB from the balcony of our dorms
One of many large spiders hanging around the walls of CVB
Just a short hike from CVB
Dr. Patricia Wright, director of Centre ValBio

Silk Weaver of Antsirabe  

The Malagasy people of Madagascar make silk cloth by hand looms, just like they have done for centuries. The cloth is used for ceremonies in their village. They find wild silk cocoons from from the forest and then pick the silk from the cocoons. They boil it, wash it, and dye it with berries, bark, leaves, and roots. It is then spun into thread and made into cloth on hand looms.