Ridgefield Winter Trains and Birds

NOTE December 15, 2017. This week I updated my Adobe Lightroom (Classic) to get the latest updates. Word on the internet is that the updated Auto Tone function in the Basic panel has improved; it now adjusts clarity, vibrance, and saturation. Wow; I was really happy with the changes. I usually fuss with the Basic sliders a bit until it looks “nice” (a subjective term). To demonstrate the difference I thought I’d share the before and after of some photos and update others with the improved versions. They generally apply more vibrance and saturation than I do.

You can compare before and after by clicking on the images and they will open up in larger format in a new tab.

I got the opportunity to shoot with the new Sony RX10 IV; I spent a few days getting used to the settings and controls and shot pictures in the house.

Train ornament

Train ornament

After applying Adobe LightRoom Classic Auto Tone setting

After applying Adobe LightRoom Classic Auto Tone setting

This camera has Phase Detect Auto Focus (i.e. fast focus) paired with a 24-600 equivalent zoom lens. The perfect camera for photographing moving objects like kids playing soccer, birds in flight and trains.

Trains! Yeah, I should get out and grab some pictures of trains! Our normal winter weather is low clouds with all the drizzling rain you could ask for. But nature has given us an early winter break thanks to a huge high pressure system east of Washington and Oregon. This means plenty of sunshine and a rare opportunity to get some nice outside pictures. So, I texted my buds Jay and John asking if they wanted to get up early Friday morning grab some coffee and donuts and head up to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge for a photo shoot and finish up with breakfast. John had a work commitment, but Jay – the local bird expert –  was willing to give up a toasty bed on a cold morning for an adventure.

Our first stop was a little strip mall near the house that has both a Starbucks and Sesame Donuts. We picked up coffee at Starbucks and donuts at the donut shop. Properly outfitted we got on I5 and headed up over the Interstate Bridge to exit 14 and headed west to the refuge. Adjacent to the entrance to the River S unit is a great spot for spotting trains; but BNSF and Union Pacific roll north and south between Seattle and Portland.

First job: look south to check out the signals to get a hint of train direction and activity.

BNSF Signal Lights at Ridgefield

BNSF Signal Lights at Ridgefield

 

Hmm, red lights probably indicates the block is occupied by a northbound train. Sure enough within the first minute a BNSF freight comes into view. I barely had time to get my camera set up for continuous shooting with continual auto focus before it barreled by.

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

After LR auto tone adjustment. BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

Just a few minutes later an oil train come up the line.

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

After LR auto tone adjustment. BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

After LR auto tone adjustment. BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

Then we had a lull in the action so I got out to grab some winter-at-the-refuge pictures. I found the moon dropping behind some bare trees.

20171208 DSC00255 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

Here we see a dramatic improvement from the Lightroom auto tone adjustment. The blues are much more pleasing.

20171208 DSC00255 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

Soon, Union Pacific had the right-of-way and boomed along north.

LightRoom auto tone adjustment applied: Union Pacific at Ridgefield, Washington

LightRoom auto tone adjustment applied: Union Pacific at Ridgefield, Washington

 

20171208 DSC00272 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

Three trains in less than half an hour; time to head over to the refuge. Bam! No sooner had we entered then we saw a Great Egret. Note: if I get the names wrong, it’s because I wasn’t paying attention to Jay, not because he gave me the wrong names. The LightRoom changes are even more apparent in these photos – in some cases dramatic. I think the detail of the birds’ eyes is much better.

 

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Then a black bird; a female red-winged blackbird like we saw back in May.

Black Bird at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Black Bird at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

20171208 DSC00305 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

Then Great Blue Heron hunting for mice.

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

And another going fishing (love the reflection here).

Great Heron fishing at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Great Heron fishing at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Great Heron fishing at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Great Heron fishing at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

And as we headed out another Great Egret.

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Great Egret at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

We saw plenty of other birds including some American Widgeons (sp?) ducks and geese.

The banner photo for this post (look up on top) is a flock of geese on the wing.

Birds in Flight over Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Birds in Flight over Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Birds in Flight over Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment: Birds in Flight over Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

I had a hard time deciding which banner photo to use; here are a couple of other candidates.

20171208 DSC00294 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

BNSF at Ridgefield Washington

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment

We exited the refuge and headed over to a diner next to the freeway. As we walked in the diner the waitress said “sit anywhere you’d like” that is my favorite set up. I walked over to a nearby table and told them she told us we could sit anywhere so would they please move. Fun time. 🙂 It was pretty good; the hashbrowns weren’t covered in oil. When we finished the guys at the next table told us “hey we paid for your breakfast but you have leave fast! Don’t let her catch you!” Fun times!

The best part of the diner is the beautiful view of Mt St Helens; so after eating we crossed the street to get grab a couple of pictures. Those of us in the Willamette Valley have to take pictures of our mountains when we can during the winter just to prove to ourselves they are still there behind the clouds.

Mount St Helens

Mount St Helens

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment. Mount St. Helens

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment. Mount St. Helens

Let’s try that zoom.

20171208 DSC00547 DSC-RX10M4 Ridgefield Trains and Birds

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment. Mount St. Helens

After LightRoom auto tone adjustment. Mount St. Helens

I’ve been to the RidgeField Wildlife Refuge a few times – mostly with Jay.

Or for the full list; search for “Ridgefield” in the search box (or just follow this link).

If you are so inclined leave a comment with your thoughts.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
This entry was posted in Foliage and Landscape, Photography, Trains, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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