Gannets Take Flight


The fifth Friday of the month gave my team at work reason to go on an afternoon outing. Off to Muriwai we headed.
Blowing off the dust I took the now 10 year old Four Thirds Olympus E500. Although only 8MP, and old tech by current standards, I still love the out of camera rendering + the lens set I have with it have a great range! Limited to 400iso, and slow but ok focus times, I knew it was going to be a challenge catching these birds in mid flight – especially with the decent trade winds blowing. I certainly had many poor results,but here are a group I am quite pleased with. The E500 ain’t book-shelved quite yet still!

Yesterdays Outtakes


Yesterdays shot wasn’t gained in a single press of the shutter (or screen, since it was take on the iPod). It took a number of attempts to get the seagull close enough, in focus and framed for me to then edit it. Looking at the above image, its almost more like the gull was photobombing me I think!

seagull1 seagull2 seagull3 seagull4 seagull5 seagull6

Tempted with bread, a few of the seagulls were game enough to fly up and grab the bread from the other half’s hands. I just had to take the shot in focus enough, whilst missing the bread (Im sure I could have edited it out) and after a few shots, I decided it also needed to remove the background – too easy to get a wonky horizon, or get an uninteresting background.

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I do like the closer up one (its the only that close I got) Almost used it, but didn’t, and settled on the final shot below to further edit by content aware stretching the background to make a landscape rather than portrait shot.

seagull final

And click here to take us back to yesterdays final edit.



The Gannet Gang

The Gannet GangGannets are pretty thin on the ground this time of year at Muriwai. Give it a few more months and spring/summer should see them by the mass.

A few interesting facts:

  • Gannets eyes are far enough forward to give them binocular vision and allow them to judge distance well – which comes in handy when hunting/fishing
  • With the ability to achieve speeds of 100Kph (60Mph) in dive, they can catch fish deeper than many other surface diving birds
  • Unlike our Terns close relatives (see a few days back), Gannets are in no way at risk population wise with a LC (least concern) rating – their numbers are growing



The Gannets of Muriwai

The Gannets of MuriwaiTodays shot, to some level or another, is likely mirrored in many peoples albums who have visited Muriwai. The gannets, when in full force, must be one of the major draw cards to this wild western beach. As mentioned yesterday, originally off the mainland (look to the horizon), once real-estate  ran out, they began setting on the cliff top in the foreground of todays image. Centre right, half way down the rock wall, we can see the Terns lower populated spot that featured in yesterdays image.

Out to the distance we can see Oaia Island, the Gannets motherland (for the area). Also home to fur seals, it paints an image of the sort of island a pirate may get marooned on when his crew shout a mutiny.

Looking over the images form my visit, its amazing how calm the sea was last week!


Sydney Peafowl

SONY DSCStuck in the house sick today, I hunted through some old images shot at the Sydney Zoo a few years ago. I had a wide variety of head shots of various animals, including todays peacock.

One of the more well known colourful birds, I have always found it funny how many animals have the male being bright and exuberant and the female otherwise plain. Of course the majority of examples of this are to show off and attract a mate.

Shot on the Sony A230, converted from RAW in UFRaw and final edit in Gimp.


Swallows Take Flight

Swallows take FlightToday celebrated my workplaces annual Big Day Out. Held at the beautiful Long Bay beach, the sun was beating down by early afternoon, and those of whom had not brought our togs, wished we had.

Taking a moment for a stroll, armed with my Ricoh GRD IV, I captured a number of images, both showing the beautiful beach, and also the drought like conditions that have been sweeping the country (Luckily for Auckland, no where near as bad as farmers North of Auckland). Walking under a selection of trees, I was amazed to see literally multiple tens (lets estimate 30) of Swallows darting in and out of the trees. All the other animals I had seen were sheltering under trees out of the heat.

Now looking to capture any close up action of a small bird with a 28mm lens is never going to happen, so I framed up the trees and sky and looked to capture a silhouette of several birds as they flew overhead. Todays image being my pick of the bunch for today.

Using Gimp, I slightly cropped the image in post processing.

Weekend time!


The Landing

Its funny how animals have learnt that what they do, and aspects of human behaviour equates to reward. Frequently when visiting the beach or lakes, enjoying some lunch or dinner, the ducks, swans, pukeko and seagulls also know its lunch or dinner time. If they didn’t come flying and running, its unlikely we would end up throwing them 10% of our fish and chips.

They have yet to learn that someone who comes walking and sitting in aforementioned places with a camera does not necessarily come with reward. I took a stroll around part of Lake Pupuke, Sony Nex in hand (not food). At each point ducks, geese and swans would hurriedly come quacking on foot, through the water and air, only to be disappointed with a rewarding click of the camera. Not that their expressions change much, but some made me feel lousy that I didn’t bring them food!

Today’s image, just before sunset was of one such upset duck who flew from the other side of the park hoping to get some supper before bedtime. In Gimp I added a lomo filter which framed the incoming flyer well.

Swallow Dogfight

On the same day I caught ‘Air Brakes‘ I also just managed to catch a few swallows darting around. Cool little birds, unless they are perched, they seem to travel at lightening speed and zig zagging all around, hence todays title ‘Swallow Dogfight’.

Captured on the Nex 5N and Jupiter-11 lens, I was quite happy I managed to get one as the Jupiter is not the fastest to focus manual lens! Cropped to get the loosing dog fighter (well – other swallow), the long narrow format reminds me of some of the skinny long portrait Japanese paintings – something I might have more of a go at some time.

Oh – and just in case there is confusion in my title, I mean dogfight as in two planes in close combat – not the bad (other bad?) kind…

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