The Australia trip is over and I’m finally getting back to a normal sleep schedule. Our flight miles added up to nearly 21,500 miles and Collin and I drove approximately 3,400 miles in country. I have been spending lots of hours during the past few days going over the nearly 6,000 photos I took during the trip and have roughly finalized my bird list – 89 species, with a couple yet to ID from photos. Not nearly enough to match my dreams, but getting to see a bit over 10% of the continent’s birds (~850 species) while on a work trip is nothing to complain about, I guess.
On our last day in country we visited Wilson’s Promontory National Park. What an impact this place had on me. Take something like our Yosemite NP and surround it by ocean on three sides, fill it with unique habitats, exotic birds and marsupials and you have an idea of what the ‘Prom’ is like. Of course, one day was only enough to wet my appetite. Two weeks would have been better.
Entry fees for national parks in Australia vary by state. In Victoria, all NP’s are free to enter and all other states charge a very affordable rate. This makes me wonder why the cost of our parks are going through the roof and why so many state parks (not in MO) charge an entry fee. Priorities, I guess.
Here are a few of my favorite landscapes from the Prom that should give an idea of the diversity of habitats this place offers. All of these were taken less than three miles from the few roads that lie within the park.
Well, it was definitely worth the hype. I sure didn’t perform perfectly in capturing the photographs that I wanted, but the experience along with what I did capture still had me coming away with feeling I had a great experience. Some of my conclusions I definitely want to remember for the next time:
1) Focus. My lens was consistently needing to be refocused. This is something I heard from other photographers as well. I assume this must be due to the changing temperatures from sitting in the sun, but the problem didn’t seem to go away. This was really a problem when I removed the solar filter for totality. In the heat of the moment I failed to think about focus until it was really too late. This had a negative effect on getting critical sharp images during Bailey’s beads and the diamond ring. Next time I will check as often as I can.
2) Bracketing during totality. My 7D mkii is equipped to take serious bracketed shots. Unfortunately, I failed to review how to do this automatically prior to the eclipse. I could have taken ~14 tightly bracketed shots in no time during totality. Instead, I barely pulled off three or so that were probably too widely spaced to create the final composite I was hoping for. It wasn’t a complete wash, but it could have been so much better.
3) Importance of aperture. I wasn’t thinking much of totality when I chose the aperture that I did. During totality, it is much more important to pick a smaller aperture that will get you those nice starbursts and critical focus then to worry about letting in more light to avoid digital noise. This will also help with focusing in general and getting sharp focus of the solar flares.
I’m sure there are other improvements I could make. With about 7 years to prepare, I won’t make the same mistakes again.
Here is one of the interesting visitors I had to my black lights at Hawn State Park this summer. Bolitotherus cornutus, or horned fungus beetle is in the darkling beetle family, Tenebrionidae. I wish I knew of their preference for polypore fungi as larvae and adults so that I could have photographed them on more suitable substrate.
This series was taken on the joint outing of the WGNSS Entomology and Nature Photography Groups at Council Bluff Lake. Here we have eastern black carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) feeding on a freshly dead ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus).