Saturday, 29 September 2007

Moon Watching

(Nearly) Full Moon Close Up
nearly full moon close up photo of the moon - craters, spots, markings, man on the moon!
First, let me tell you one thing - no, I did not use a telescope. A few nights ago I got out with the new camera, stuck it on a tripod, and got some shots of the (nearly) full Moon. When I looked at them on-screen later (and with a bit of cropping), this is what came up! I've never been able to take a photo of the Moon as accurate and detailed as this before, but with the Fujifilm S9600's 10.7x zoom these photos turned out remarkably clear. You can actually see the minute markings and dark patches on the Moon.

I found, however, that using auto-exposure settings resulted in a washed-out Moon, even when I focused the camera on the Moon's radius. I actually had to increase the shutter speed to about 1/320 before the Moon's markings started to become visible. This also helped to make the camera steadier, so I was able to use an ISO setting of just 80.

Later in the week I got up on the roof and shot the photo below. The Moon is framed by the branches of the eucalyptus, or gum tree which fills up most of the frame, and the tree in turn is highlighted by the Moon's light. This photo was taken at dusk, just after the Sun had set.

After trying many times to get good Moon photos I had nearly given up, but this new camera has yet again proved its worth, managing to get some excellent photos of the Moon. My only piece of advice to potential moon-gazers is this - keep your shutters well up!

Moon behind Eucalyptus tree
nearly full moon silhouette shining through tree branches - moon outlined by treeThese photos taken with the Fujifilm S9600 camera.
Photo #1 (Moon Close-up): Shutter speed 1/319, F4.9, ISO 80
Photo #2 (Moon behind tree): Shutter speed 1/60, F4.9, ISO 100

Friday, 28 September 2007

5,000 A.D. - Beginning a new Millenium

Today this blog recieved it's 5,000th visitor! Interestingly this visitor was actually from Australia, which happens to be my home country. Here's some stats about that visitor in particular:

Time of Visit Sep 28 2007 9:23:54 am
Last Page View
Sep 28 2007 9:24:43 am
Visit Length
49 seconds
Page Views
Referring URL tomatoes&hl=en
Search Engine
Search Words
bullock heart tomatoes

According to Google Analytics I've actually had 6,103 visits, but I'll use the sitemeter count for this post. Here is a graph of all the traffic to this blog so far this year:
As you can see, I've had a great increase in blog traffic over the past few weeks. Now I'm going to have to stop posting about every 1,000 visits, because at this rate I should get about 1,600 per month!

But it's not just the traffic that counts. As you will know if you have a blog yourself, the visitor loyalty is one of the key factors to ascertaining a blog's success. According to Google Analytics, about 5% of the visitors to this blog have returned 2 or more times. I think that's pretty good for 5,000 visitors - approximately 50 people have demonstrated some interest in the blog.

It's interesting to note the most popular search queries for this past year:

As you can see, my agapantha flowers post seems to be very popular, but overall people tend to come here looking for nature photography.

Finally, I would like to thank all the people who have visited and commented on this site, especially those who have subscribed. Running this blog has been a great experience so far, and I hope that you and many other readers will continue to enjoy it into the future.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Bird of Paradise Flower - The Onset of Spring

Bird of Paradise Flower - Spring has come!
Spring is now in full bloom here in Australia. The grass is growing, the trees are blossoming with flowers, and the cicadas chirp at night. The Mozzies are biting, the flies are invading our homes, and a large portion of every Saturday is spent mowing the lawn. Everything is on the move. And, of course, all this life and activity comes with a host of new photographic opportunities.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a visit to one of the local parks. The flowers there are in full bloom and provide great opportunities for macro shots. In that 2-hour session alone I took nearly 200 photos! Thankfully the era of digital cameras has alleviated the need for film, otherwise that session would have cost quite a bit.

This bird of paradise flower is one of the hugely diverse species of flora to be found in the park I visited yesterday. I took this photo just before sunset, when the sun's rays shining through the flower give it a bright and intense colour, and highlight the "flame-like" crest of the flower. In the background, you can see another dead flower, which mirrors this one, starkly contrasting with its vigorous life.

So far the photos I've got of this Spring have been mostly close-up, or macro shots, as the landscapes aren't quite out of Winter yet. But never fear, as soon as the landscapes come you'll be seeing them. At the moment I'm working on a photo-sequence showing the opening of flowers, so expect to see the results of that soon. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy Spring - mozzies and all!
(N.B. For the majority of my readers who are American, I'll be posting some more Spring-ish photos soon, so don't worry, you can enjoy it too, but without the mozzies (or mosquitoes in your language!))

This photo taken with the Fujifilm S9600 digital camera.
Shutter speed 1/124, F4.9, ISO 200

Related Photos:
After the Rain - Jasmine Flowers
The Blossom of the Pond (Water Lily Flower)
Sunflower close-up
Balloon Vine Flower (with water droplets)
Balloon Vine Flower (without water droplets)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

After the Rain Part 1 - Jasmine Flowers

jasmine buds (will be jasmine flowers) with water droplets hanging off them after the rainphoto of two open jasmine flowers close up (macro)
It's been raining here lately, so I though I might post a few of the photos I got just after the rain stopped.

These photos all show jasmine flowers at their various stages of development. The Fujifilm S9600's super macro mode helped here to get really close up shots. The two pictures on the left hand side show water droplets hanging off jasmine buds, while the photos on the right show fully opened jasmine flowers.

close up photo of jasmine flower bud with water droplet hanging of the bud
macro shot of jasmine flower fully open

These photos taken with the Fujifilm S9600 digital camera.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Bumble Bees in Motion

Bumble Bee in Flight - Landing on Rocket Flower
bumble bee flying hovering landing on pak choy plant's flower - Bee hovering in the air
The First Photos from the new Fujifilm S9600!
It's amazing how the best moments for photos seem to appear when you least expect them. Yesterday I was outside as soon as it stopped raining, taking pictures of the flowers & leaves all wet and bristling with dew drops. I got a few good photos which I'll get up here soon, but just as I was leaving I noticed some bees flying around the Pak Choy plants. I snapped some photos at a relatively high shutter speed, not expecting to get much out of them as the bees were moving very quickly. But it seems I had underestimated the new camera. The photos turned out quite well, even after I digitally cropped them to less than half their original size.

I've included two of the best bee photos here. The first one (above) shows a bee hovering in the air mid-flight, about to land on a yellow Pak Choy Flower. You can actually see the bee's wings as they flap through the air at top speed.

In the second photo (below) the bee has landed and is sucking the pollen from the flower. Notice the large yellow pollen sac at the middle of the bee's body. Again, the yellow flowers are from a Pak Choy plant.

Bumble Bee Feeding - Resting on Flower
bumble bee sucking sitting resting on yellow pak choy flower - Bee on flower
So far my experiences with the Fujifilm S9600 have shown it to be well worth the money. It certainly has exceptional macro capabilities, and it's great to have full manual control over the shutter speed and aperture settings. I'm looking forward to lot's more great photos in the months to come, and I hope you too can share in the enjoyment of this "wonderland of nature".

Coming up: After the Rain....

These photos taken with the Fujifilm S9600 camera.
Shutter speed 1/399, F5.7 (#1) & f7.2 (#2), ISO 200

Related Photos:
Bee landing on Lavender Flower
Life on a smaller scale [Mushrooms in Grass]
Close-up of yellow Pak Choy Flowers

4000 A.D.

Special Announcement: The 4,000th visitor arrived at this blog today from Papua New Guinea at 3:57:34 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Most popular search term: hairy caterpillars.
Average visit length: 3 minutes 47 seconds.
Average pages viewed per visit: 1.58.
Most popular page: The Sunflower that's not a sunflower.

I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this blog either directly or by giving feedback by comments or emails. It is great to share the wonder of nature with other people through the medium of the internet and photography. Thank you all for you support!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

New Camera! [Fujifilm S9600]

Finally, the days of 3x zoom are over!

Yesterday I bought a new camera to replace the 4.0MP Kodak C330 that has served me faithfully for the last two years. Although I wasn't quite ready to make the jump to a (d)SLR, the model I selected has full manual features and most of the benefits of an SLR.

fujifilm finepix s9600The new camera, a Fujifilm FinePix S9600, features a 9MP Super CCD sensor with 10x optical zoom (equivalent to approx. 28mm-300mm on a 35mm camera). From my preliminary testing, the image quality is excellent, especially in low-light conditions. The Fujifilm also has a "Super Macro" mode which enables it to focus down to 1cm, so you'll be seeing a lot more macro photography soon. (Guess which label will be the biggest in a month's time!)

Today I'll be playing with the new camera a bit, so expect to see some new photos any time now. After I've used the Fujifilm for a while I'll also try to post a review with the real life Pros and Cons of the camera, so keep an eye out for that later.

Overall I'm quite impressed with the quality of the Fujifilm S9600. It's raining here at the moment, and you know how good nature photography looks after the rain, so expect a treat, coming soon....

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Labeling the Clouds

Some of you may have already noticed the "Label Cloud" I recently added to this blog's sidebar. Where there used to be a simple list of categories, I have added a fancier, more aesthetically pleasing "cloud" of categories. If you look at the coloured bar on the right hand side of this page, you should see something like the following (you may have to scroll down): new blogger label cloudBasically, this "cloud" is just a list of all the photographic categories in this blog, but with a twist - the categories with more posts in them appear bigger in the list, while the less populated categories show up smaller.

I hope that this new addition, along with the content rating system at the bottom of every post will help you to enjoy this blog more. So have a browse! Just click on one of the categories on the right to get started. And if you like a post, you can give it a rating simply by selecting your choice on the bar at the bottom of the post.

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