Thursday, May 1, 2014

Aubrey and Hazel

April 25th...When I arrived today I did not see Hazel in the nest. I watched for several minutes and when I was about to give up I noticed them both in a tree across the pond sitting on opposite branches about 20 feet apart vertically. I tried to get a few photos but even with my 300mm and 1.4x converter they were too far away. When I returned in the afternoon Aubrey was back at his favorite tree not far from the nest, I took a series of photos even though he was backlit by the afternoon sun and even managed to shoot about 5 minutes of video. Hazel was sitting low in the nest.

Aubrey on his favorite perch. © David Wornham Photography
© 2014 David Wornham Photography
© 2014 David Wornham Photography

This is one of the videos I took of Aubrey. He was exhibiting some new behavior for me, bobbing his head up and down and from side to side. I have been told this is common for raptors, I have seen this before when observing Snowy Owls this past winter. It helps them with their vision when focusing on something.

April 28th...I could not wait to get back to the nest today after 3 days. I arrived just after 8:30am and found Aubrey sitting across the pond eating a fish. Even with good light he was too far away to get any good photos so I just observed him for about 15 minutes. Hazel was in the nest as she is every time I visit now. I am convinced they have a clutch of eggs to protect and hope to see offspring by late May.

By luck I came across a male Osprey at Silver Lake in Athol this evening. I heard the unmistakable call when I brought my son to baseball practice. The fields are located across from the lake and I have observed an Osprey flying over on previous days. I walked toward the lake and ended up right under him as he was eating a fish only 30 feet or so above me. He was backlit by the overcast sky but I managed to get a few good photos from underneath as he enjoyed his meal.

male Osprey eating a fish. © David Wornham Photography
male Osprey giving me the evil eye as I watched him eat.
The markings on this Osprey are similar to Aubrey, the females are identified by the bib or barring on the chest, the males have less markings or nearly no markings depending on the individual.

April 29th...Today was the coldest morning without wind in the last couple of weeks, barely 37 degrees with a light rain. Even with the weather conditions I stopped by for a quick visit but saw no activity. It appeared that Hazel was in the nest but I did not see Aubrey. I could only spend a few minutes today.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Aubrey and Hazel

Since my last post about Aubrey and Hazel, I have visited the nest 5 times. Recent observations by myself and fellow wildlife photographer Peter Christoph indicate that Hazel may be sitting on eggs. We have seen Aubrey return to the nest then Hazel leave for a brief spell before returning so Aubrey can go off fishing.

April 22nd...I stopped by in the morning shortly before 9am and observed Hazel in the nest. It was overcast and cold, not the best conditions for taking pictures. Aubrey was circling the pond and at one point made a fly-by of the nest then continued off over the trees out of sight. I was able to get one decent shot of him as he flew over.

Aubrey on fly-by. © 2014 David Wornham Photography

After several minutes Hazel left the nest and flew to a tree across the pond some 200 feet away to relieve herself then returned to the nest and perched on a branch. I moved to a spot I had previously found that allowed me to shoot through the trees with a clear view of the nest. She sat only for a few minutes before jumping back into the nest.

Hazel. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Hazel. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Hazel. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Hazel. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Hazel. © 2014 David Wornham Photography

April 23rd...This morning it was extremely windy and cold, when I arrived at first I did not see Hazel in the nest. Every few seconds I noticed a wing tip appear just above the rim as the wind gusted. I moved to a location part way down the slope to the pond and that's when I saw Aubrey perched in a tree about 50 feet from the nest braving the cold wind. The sky was mostly clear and despite the wind I was able to get a series of photos of him from about 80 feet away.

Aubrey. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Aubrey. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
Aubrey. © 2014 David Wornham Photography
April 24th...This morning was similar to yesterday, Hazel in the nest and Aubrey perched in the same tree in the middle of the marshy end of the pond 50 feet from the nest. I watched them both for about 10 minutes and took a few photos but nothing new from yesterday. In the afternoon he was seen returning to the nest then Hazel left and flew to a tree across the pond.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog to stay updated with their progress. You can also follow me on facebook or visit my website

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nesting Osprey - Massachusetts

In the winter of 2013-14 I began to photograph wildlife, beginning with Snowy Owls along the MA and NH seacoast. As the warmer weather has sent many of them home to the arctic I started to look for a new subject to focus on locally. A friend pointed out a local spot for birding and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Among the many species of small birds present I was surprised and delighted to see an active Osprey nest at one end of the pond.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are a distinctively shaped hawk with slender bodies, long narrow wings and long leg . They have been nicknamed "fish hawk" or "fish eagle" as their diet consists almost 100% of fish. They are diurnal hunters meaning they hunt during the daytime. They can be found worldwide in a variety of habitats but are commonly found near the seacoast and in swamps or marshes. Similar to the Bald Eagle in that they are proficient in fishing they are somewhat smaller in size weighing 49-70oz (3-4.5lbs) and 21-23 inches in body length with a wingspan of 60-70 inches. They are a unique hawk in that they have a reversible toe that allows them to more easily grab slippery fish.

This is Aubrey and Hazel, named after my grandparents who were a big influence on me when I was growing up. My grandfather taught me about the outdoors and fishing, I would spend much of my summers with them working in the garden and fishing with my grandfather. I first met Aubrey on April 12th when I saw him circling the pond with a fresh catch. I did not see Hazel this day but it would not be long until I made her acquaintance.

Aubrey and Hazel in the nest © 2014 David Wornham Photography

Aubrey with lunch. © 2014 David Wornham Photography

This pair is nesting near the top of an old dead tree about 60 feet above the marshy end of the pond. In the mornings between 8:30 and 9am I usually find Hazel sitting low in the nest. I presume that Aubrey is off fishing or collecting material for the nest. When I visit in the afternoon after 2pm on many days I have found both present. Some days Aubrey sits in a tree at the far end of the marsh watching over the nest.

Hazel calling for her mate © 2014 David Wornham Photography
April 16th...I stopped by for a visit shortly before 9am to see how they were getting along. Hazel was again sitting in the nest but I did not have to wait long for Aubrey to show up. He arrived with an offering of nesting material for his wife, she seemed pleased. He stayed long enough to give her his present and sit for a minute then went off again for more. I assume they are getting the nest ready for breeding and hope to see chicks in several weeks time.

© 2014 David Wornham Photography  

© 2014 David Wornham Photography

I will be posting updates weekly here and daily photos on my facebook page or visit my photography page below. Be sure to check back to stay updated on their progress over the next several months.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snowy Owls invade Northeast US

The winter of 2013-2014 is proving to be a banner year for spotting Snowy Owls across the US, especially in the Northeast along the seacoast. I have had the chance to view these majestic birds on a couple of visits to the Salisbury Beach State Reservation in MA since late December. Although they are indigenous to the Arctic every few years many young owls make their way south to winter along the dunes and salt marshes. Many have been spotted from Rye, NH to Plum Island, MA by fellow photographers. These images were taken of one individual I spent almost 4 hours with on 12.29.13.

After this one sat in the marsh grass for nearly 2 hours it flew across the marsh and ended up in the top of a pine tree by the road. It remained there for another couple of hours as several photographers watched to snapped away. This particular bird appears to be a juvenile female where it has more color along it's wings and crown.

 On my next visit 1.5.14 my sons Nick, Logan and I spotted 2 individuals over the course of 2 hours along the entrance road to the State Reservation and one that was deceased along the dunes near the beach by the pyramid. They generally tend to rest on the top of the dunes or on rocks and driftwood above the grass. We were fortunate to get one decent shot of the young male pictured below when we flew alongside the road and perched at the top of a tree for only a couple of minutes before flying deep into the marsh just as the sun was setting on an overcast day. The owls that are seen in the US are regarded as immature, the adult males appear nearly all white while the females retain most of their brown or black colors on the tips of their feathers and atop their heads. I believe this one is a juvenile male where it has very little brown on it's feathers and the head is almost completely white.

Many bird experts speculate that this may be the best year for many to to come to viewing these owls. Scientists are not completely sure why they tend to show up every few years and in many only a handful arrive and are seen. Some thoughts are that they come south due to food supply in the Arctic or after a successful breeding season the previous year and may be driven away by mature adults when there is an population explosion up north.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tips on photographing Fireworks

I love taking photos of fireworks. It's not as hard as you might think just takes a bit of practice but the results are well worth the preparation and effort. The key is to have a tripod and a camera that you can set to "bulb" for the shutter speed. The trick is to open the shutter before the firework explodes and leave it open until after it's done. It takes a bit of practice but the results are well worth it.

Here are some pointers to help you get started. You'll need some basic gear: camera with manual settings (including focus), tripod and a remote shutter release. First set your camera to the lowest ISO setting allowed usually between ISO 50-200, set your f-stop to 11-16 and shutter speed to Bulb. Switch to manual focus mode and set your focus point to just shy of infinity. It's a good idea once you've set up and pointed the camera in the direction of the fireworks to view the first coupe of explosions through the viewfinder without taking a photo. This will help you with framing. Once you've got everything set you're ready to go.

Press the shutter release when the rocket is fired and leave it open until after the explosion is finished. This provides the greatest amount of color and detail. You can experiment by leaving the shutter open for several explosions to capture a sky full of fireworks. Caution: leaving the shutter open too long will result in washout of color and a bit of overexposure. Practice is essential. You should get good results the first time if you follow these guidelines.

Just a couple of notes. The reason to set your camera's ISO to between 50-200 is to preserve the black background and reduce noise associated with higher ISO settings. Setting it too high (1000 or higher) on many cameras produces noise similar to film grain. Also if your camera requires you to hold down the shutter button try to avoid holding the camera in your hand. Even with a tripod any hand movement will produce a blurry photo. I shot these images with a Nikon D80 with 24-120mm VR lens at ISO 200 mounted on a Slik tripod with a remote shutter release. The exposure time varied from a few seconds to nearly 10 seconds in Bulb depending on the result I was looking for. These were taken in Greenfield MA on July 2, 2010.

UPDATE: Here are a few more shots taken in July 2011.

I hope these tips help you taken breathtaking images of fireworks. Good luck shooting!

For more information on my work and services visit my website

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections of 2011

So here we are at the end of 2011, at this time I find myself reflecting back on a few accomplishments as I look ahead to the promise that 2012 will bring. It has been one of my best years photography wise, with new clients, new website and having made many connections to fellow photographers.

As I entered 2011 my prospects were bleak, it was shaping up to be a slow year for weddings with not much else to look forward to. The spring brought new opportunities with the green screen set-up in the form of 2 proms and elementary school dance. The response was more than I expected and I can happily say that I secured these events for years to come.

During the summer months I took time to get out and build my portfolio of nature images in hopes to start selling a few. I had several good encounters and came away with a few dozen images I am quite proud of. The response I have gotten from many online albums I have posted of my watercolor series has been great. The experience has given me great hope for 2012 and beyond and inspired me to take more time for nature.

Close up of Lily in watercolor. 2011 David Wornham Photography

Weddings were slow to come in but I was very fortunate to work with several wonderful couples and create beautiful everlasting images of their day. I can say in many cases I made new friends that I stay in touch with. This year also allowed me to photograph a wedding for the first time at a venue I have wanted to visit for years, Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. It was a great experience and can now say I am one of their preferred vendors, it should give me many more opportunities to work there in the coming years.

Brenda & Tim at Indian Ranch. 2011 David Wornham Photography

The fall also brought a new client to my door, one that I had been chasing for nearly a year, 202 Street Hockey. The youth hockey league hosts three seasons each year with over 200 players in all age groups. The key to the success was again the green screen, allowing me to create a custom background for the player photos. The response from parents and the league was more than I could have asked for. Having them as a client will help me in many ways grow my business in the new year and beyond.

2012 will bring many new adventures in photography for me. This year will mark the beginning of my foray into wildlife photography. It will require a significant investment in new equipment and to build a new website dedicated to wildlife images. There are two people that have inspired me to embark on this journey that deserve credit for their photographic ability as well as insight I have received, David Lloyd and Richard Peters. I can only hope someday to capture the same type of images they have and visit some of the locations they've been privileged to photograph wildlife. My ultimate goal is to visit Africa in the next few years when I feel I am prepared photographically.

Golden Pheasant. 2011 David Wornham Photography

On a more personal note, this year has seen my boys grow up faster than I would like to admit. As they get older I find myself becoming more involved in their activities, from managing one of my sons baseball team to coaching my youngest in street hockey. This along with continuing to be a Cub Scout den leader takes up a great deal of my personal time, but I honestly enjoy doing it all.

Everything I have accomplished has been in part because of my wife, who supports me every step of the way. If not for her I would not be where I am in life. She is my co-pilot and probably has more common sense than I do, she helps keep me grounded.

A fond farewell to 2011, it has been a very good year. Now I look forward to what 2012 will bring. Happy New Year!

David Wornham

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brenda & Tim 10.1.11

I had the pleasure of being a part of Brenda and Tim's wedding at beautiful Indian Ranch in Webster, MA this past October. Although the sky was overcast and the forecast called for rain we had a great time creating many memorable images from their wedding.

I can't say enough about this wonderful couple, they were so much fun to work with, I enjoyed every minute we spent together. Indian Ranch does a terrific job of catering to each couple and their guests, this is one of my favorite venues to shoot weddings.

I offer a unique approach to wedding photography packages called Build-A-Package and am available for weddings throughout New England.

David Wornham Photography