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.
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.
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.
Just a few minutes later an oil train come up the line.
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.
Here we see a dramatic improvement from the Lightroom auto tone adjustment. The blues are much more pleasing.
Soon, Union Pacific had the right-of-way and boomed along north.
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.
Then a black bird; a female red-winged blackbird like we saw back in May.
Then Great Blue Heron hunting for mice.
And another going fishing (love the reflection here).
And as we headed out another Great Egret.
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.
I had a hard time deciding which banner photo to use; here are a couple of other candidates.
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.
Let’s try that zoom.
I’ve been to the RidgeField Wildlife Refuge a few times – mostly with Jay.
- You can see the difference between spring and winter in this post from last May.
- Summer is another view; Jay wasn’t with me so I only took train pictures in July 2015.
- And here is a post from our first visit in 2012 as we prepared for our trip to South Africa.
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.