Tag Archives: Updates

Falls Ending in Mineral Wells

Nature Photography Free for download

Well, it has been a few weeks since the last update for the Nature Photography portion of the site. Now that the update is complete, it is free for download. A courtesy link is always requested if an item is used online but not required.

For those just joining us, Welcome to Flash by Z. My name is EZ and my wife Desi and I are avid birders. My personal need to identify the feathery friends became so great that I took up photography. They kind of fall in together. One is a tool for the other – photography needs models and birds need identifying. I denied being a birder for a few months but the passion grew so great that I finally came out of the closet this past Spring. So why Flash by Z? You would think camera but believe it or not, I was a Flash programmer first. One nerdy thing for another; trade-off. The domain name remained the same but took on a whole new meaning. Six years of original content was lost this past Summer. Rather than replace the several hundred articles of eclectic nerdiness, we simply changed gears and started over. Heart-broken at first but all things happen for a reason. To my previous followers, I apologize but “Who Moved My Cheese” was written specifically for these type of unforeseen and uncontrollable conditions.

Falls Ending in Mineral Wells
Falls Ending in Mineral Wells
  • Aperture: ƒ/4.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 5 December, 2012
  • Focal length: 95mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000s

Birding and Nature Photography: It is the thrill of the hunt without the need for blood. Biking, hiking, dirt, water… Sifting through several hundred captures hoping to share at least a few with the visiting netizen. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Below are a few examples of what you can find on the Nature Photography portion of the site and it is free for download. As my equipment improves; hopefully, so do I. Practice, Practice, Practice. All bird photos are taken in or around Palo Pinto County and Mineral Wells, Texas (North Central Texas, USA).

A few examples are shown below but head over to Nature Photography for a much larger selection.

Carolina Chickadee B_W
Carolina Chickadee B_W
  • Aperture: ƒ/6.4
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 15 July, 2012
  • Focal length: 122.6mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/300s

Hanging the Feeder

Simple Homemade Bird Feeder

SIMPLE HOMEMADE BIRD FEEDER: Birder or nature lover? This homemade bird feeder takes ten minutes to make if you have a few simple goodies at hand. We recently had some trees trimmed, so coming up with a 18″ to 20″ long limb was a breeze. If the limb has extraneous little pieces of twigs, let them be. Grab a drill and a 1 3/4″ paddle bit and drill a hole one to two inches deep about an inch above a couple of the twigs. Optional: Grab a couple of long screws and drill them in below the holes for man-made perches. Wallah! All done.

Start the drilling
Start the drilling

Trim off the extra twigs and install a large eye bolt on the top end of the log for easy hanging. Make sure to drill a hole with a drill bit a size smaller than the bolt. It will make it easier to install the bolt. Trust me! Use a screwdriver in the eye of the bolt as a pivot if you have weak hands. This will make turning the bolt into the prepared hole that much easier.

Building the Perch
Building the Perch

Now, you can install an eye bolt on a tree branch or edge of the house. Use a D-ring to connect the eye bolt on the limb to the one on the branch and it is up. Makes it super easy to put up or take down. Congrats! Now you have a Free SUET or SEED FEEDER for the price of a paddle bit and a couple of eye bolts. The next one IS FREE.

MAKING SIMPLE FEED: I have several recipes but research your area and find out what your bird friends enjoys. Are you looking for super easy? Peanut butter with a touch of whole flour (decrease the sticky) and mix with a wild bird seed mix or sunflower seeds. Now stuff the mixture into the holes on your log. Hang and done! Read further if you want something a little more sophisticated.

The finished product showing the eyebolt and feed in place.

Hanging the Feeder
Hanging the Feeder

You might note that my finished feeder does not have perches. There is a reason for that. Every five years or so we have an invasion of Red-Breasted Nuthatches (info per my friend Jim at Texas Bird Images who has helped me identify countless birds). This is one such year. They are highly acrobatic and love to hang around upside down. Watching them climb around on the logs without perches is strictly for my entertainment. =)

SIMPLE SUET: In a blender or food processor, combine 1 part peanut butter, 1 part Crisco or lard, 3 parts cornmeal, 1 part whole wheat flour, and 1 part finely cracked corn. If it is too sticky, add more cornmeal or flour to make it manageable. Keep any extra in a plastic storage container or bad in the refrigerator. Common sense rules the day here… those hot Texas days will melt the suet nearly immediately. This is best used for the winter months when birds need a little help. Lots of clean, melted water will also do the body good. Sometimes, even Mother Nature needs a little help.

Next project: Outdoor water feature that is sure to give the birds a little lift. So far, I have one large bird bath and one 300 gph pump and some tubing. Where is this headed? I have no idea but the journey should be fun. The one desirable effect is that our large bird bath will NO LONGER just be a mosquito breeding ground.

Happy Birding!!!

Fall Trees in Mineral Wells

Photography and Patience – posting the non-perfect

Most photographers who take themselves seriously will only post their best work online. Many photographers post their captures seeking critiques. In bird photography, I have learned patience and humility and that it is more about the identification, nature, environment than perfection. Birds will not pose nor wait; therefore, I post non-Perfect photos as a rule. Yes, they can be under or over exposed. Sometimes the composition is not perfect. Many occasions I have caught more of a branch than a bird. =) Maybe one photo in a hundred will make it online.

Every so often I create a post that is nothing more than a compilation of images that I personally enjoy. For one reason or another they were not placed in a story posting or used for photo documentation. They simply exist for my pleasure. Here is this quarters package. Yes, they are not my better work but BOOYAH!!! I love it. Each have a tale to be shared.

Failed image – composition, shutter speed and timing (plant was in the way). Still, the color is good and the water coming off this Green-Backed Herons feet added drama. The real enjoyment was watching the long hunt. These guys are incredibly sneaky birds.

Green Heron
Green Heron
  • Aperture: ƒ/9
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 1 September, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s

Another reason for posting the non-perfect photograph? Vegetation and the elements. The other option is NOT to POST the capture but then I would not have this photo of the Lesser Goldfinch. It is my ONLY photo of a Goldfinch. Not enough for a story posting but I save them for these compilations. This shy guy will come NOWHERE NEAR the feeders if we are outside. I have to be quick in locating him within the tree to even grab this single photo.

The Hidden Goldfinch
The Hidden Goldfinch
  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 28 November, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

It’s Fall in Mineral Wells, Texas as it is in many areas. I dearly love the change of seasons and the cooler air. It means migration and relief from the oppressive heat. The colors are enough to call for a camera.

Fall Trees in Mineral Wells
Fall Trees in Mineral Wells
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 21 November, 2012
  • Focal length: 260mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s

Every now and then I actually get one or two right – Destructor and Sammy on a wire are two of my favorites for one reason or another. My brain forgets.

Sammy Squirrel on a wire
Sammy Squirrel on a wire
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 25 November, 2012
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250s

Great Destructor of Clark Garden
Great Destructor of Clark Garden
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 6 October, 2012
  • Focal length: 55mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/40s

Canon 18-55mm IS II lens test

Canon EOS Rebel T3i first shoot

Desi and I grabbed the Canon EOS Rebel T3i tonight at Best Buy, that along with the 18-55mm IS II lens and a 70-300mm IS USM telephoto lens. It was late into the evening by the time I got home and fired it up. I took a couple of shots with each lens. I was immediately ecstatic over the ISO vs. Noise. There was NO natural light and we use dim 60W bulbs for lighting. I could not have been happier with how the photos turned out. They will be thoroughly tested tomorrow. For tonight (morning), I bid adieu! Yes, I know this is a cheesy post. 1. I am exhausted. 2. Excited but exbausted. 3. Day three of killing a 30 year tobacco habit. So don’t piss me off or I may come see you.

I really cranked up the ISO on a few, turned down the shutter speed on a couple and tried F/stops to check for clarity. Falling asleep at the screen. Hasta en la manana!

Canon 18-55mm IS II lens test
Canon 18-55mm IS II lens test - looking at a 70-300
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 9 August, 2012
  • Focal length: 48mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1.6s

Canon 18-55mm IS II lens test - looking at a 70-300
Canon 18-55mm IS II lens test - looking at a 70-300
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 9 August, 2012
  • Focal length: 48mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1.6s

Birding Camera – Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS USM?

Suggestions on photography gear for birding? I am in the market for a new camera and lens for birding. Budget is 1400.00 or less for camera and lens? Speed, crisp pictures, and low noise are a must. It is strictly for birding. Current selections are shown below – Canon T3i with the 70-300mm IS USM lens. What suggestions do you have?

CAMERA: Canon – EOS Rebel T3i 18.0-Megapixel DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens. 699.00

Canon T3i
Canon T3i

LENS: Canon – 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. 550.00

Canon 70-300mm IS USM
Canon 70-300mm IS USM

All help and suggestions would really be appreciated.

Mallard Duck +2

Random Nature Photos for July

Month of July, 2012 – While perusing my Mineral Wells neighborhood, I capture random nature photos here and there that have nothing to do with an upcoming post. For no other reason than storage, they get posted at Flash by Z from time to time and deleted off the hard drive. This is one such writing.

One of my favorite birding locations has an old, unused foot bridge. The trail to the birding location is covered in Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and spiders. Nature is beautiful, but it can be a bitter-sweet concoction of bull nettles, spider bites and bee stings. This mixture is something I wish to bypass; more especially, with me in shorts. So today, I shot it from afar to share with all. As you will can see, the vegetation is a heavy mix, contains a great water source, perching locations and cover. Birding is always good when the time of day is right. The sun was wrong for shooting but without the direct sun, it would be solid shadows. Even with the sun, I miss a lot of photo opportunities.

This day was a good one. We located another Mississippi Kite, several Cardinals and my first ever Summer Tanager. Fantastic!!! Need help with a spider identification, any takers? See below. Thanks in advance. Well, it is time to upload photos, turn off the computer, and hope for a cooler tomorrow. The 106 to 111 range is already getting old. ALOHA! <--- I can dream, can't I?!

Make sure to check out the links below the gallery!

Female Grackle
Shameless Plug!! Great-Tailed Grackle - female
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Focal length: 132.3mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

Free NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY desktops available. No subscription, no fee. Download with no hassle. UPDATED – Ten additions if you have not visited lately.

Birding 101 – New content for new birders. Read Birding 101. It describes the birth of my passion for these flighty little creatures. I also discuss the few essentials necessary for getting started.

Taxonomy Update 07/24/2012

Side note: Taxonomy update – tags now contain the overall color of the bird as well as some of their distinct markings. This should make it easier for searching the site when trying to identify a bird. Check the tag cloud and click an attribute. Many selections only have one bird for the time being but that will change over time. The birds on this site are primarily TOS Region 2 Palo Pinto County and surrounding areas (The Osage Plains per TP&W). Some additions will contain stories of how and where I located them, while others will provide a complete breakdown of the species such as mating, broods, eggs, etc. Please post locations for rare bird finds in Region 2. I can use all the help I can get. Thanks!

Free NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY desktops available. No subscription, no fee. Download with no hassle.

Site Update 07/20/2012

Side Note: Updated site to include better post galleries and EXIF data for photography buffs. Now utilizing attachment pages for image content instead of lightbox pop-ups. On a side note: The bird category is now broken into children (by species). These birds were photographed in Palo Pinto county (Region 2); mostly, in areas surrounding Mineral Wells, Texas. I hope this helps. Have a great weekend!