Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania

Back in March of this year, we took a trip down to Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square PA. This garden is over 1,050 acres and contains over 11,000 different varieties of plants — a staggering figure! While it was a bit cold to walk around the outdoor gardens, we visited a enormous orchid display in the Conservatory on site. The Conservatory is a mere 4.5 acres — small compared to the rest of the gardens, but still worthy of an entire afternoon of wandering and photographing!

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/90 sec, ƒ/6.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
Interior of the Conservatory
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/40 sec, ƒ/8, ISO 100 | zoom in
Indoor Trees and More Lawn

These were taken just inside one of the entrances (the main entrance I believe) and I was truly impressed with the well manicured lawn — indoors!

Since this was an orchid display, the better part of the conservatory was filled with hundreds of different varieties of orchid. I have no idea how they switch from the orchid display to their next headline display. Perhaps it just follows the seasons. Regardless, some of these flowers were truly amazing!

I had just acquired the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens at the time and I was spending a good deal of my efforts experimenting with the very shallow depth of field.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/1250 sec, ƒ/1.6, ISO 100 | zoom in
Unknown Orchid

I’m really kicking myself for not being more dillagent writing down names for all these plants. I got so caught up in taking the photos, I just never thought about it.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/640 sec, ƒ/1.8, ISO 100 | zoom in
White and Pink
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/2.5, ISO 100 | zoom in
Water Droplet on Orchid
NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/1250 sec, ƒ/2.8, ISO 100 | zoom in
Bright Orange

While the orange looks almost too bright, I’m really not exaggerating the colors — they were that vivid in person too! In fact, after a whole day of walking around inside, leaving to the somewhat somber march landscape seemed almost drab in comparison.

Unfortunately, being that this was one of my first tries at using the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, many of the photos are either shot with too large an aperture or simply not all that they could have been. However, I still think I got a pretty good selection — in fact, this is only the first chunk of the images I took that day. I’ll probably have to write a part 2 with more images.

Tufted Titmouse Eating a Sunflower Seed

One of the more interesting things we’ve been able to witness as far as the bird watching goes is the different habits of the individual species. While the Finches are happy to sit on a bird feeder perch and eat, other birds such as the Tufted Titmouse will take a seed and fly somewhere else to crack it open and eat the insides.

The other day, we were fortunate enough to capture this routine with the camera. It’s really quite fascinating!

NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/125 sec, ƒ/5.6, ISO 100 | zoom in
Tufted Titmouse Holding a Seed
NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/125 sec, ƒ/5.6, ISO 100 | zoom in
Tufted Titmouse Cracking Seed
NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/125 sec, ƒ/5.6, ISO 100 | zoom in
Tufted Titmouse Eating the Rewards

In looking at the photos, you can really see how the feet are used to anchor the seed while the bird pecks at it. The whole event took less than 5 seconds (yay for the high speed frame rate of the Nikon D200). Overall, these birds are very efficient! After completing this task, we watched it return to the feeder a few more times, each time selecting one seed and disappearing to eat it.

Fun With a New Birdfeeder!

Ever since my wife and I moved away from suburbia we’ve been admiring the wildlife which surrounds us. We’ve seen plenty of white-tailed deer, rabbits, skunks and other various wildlife. We’ve also seen a huge number of different birds in the fields behind our house.

Just recently, we decided we might as well take advantage of these birds and get a couple bird feeders. We selected a humming bird feeder, a thistle feeder and a regular bird feeder. These got mounted on a pole system to our deck railing. Let me tell you — I haven’t had this much fun taking photos in a long time!

The location of the feeder is just outside the kitchen window. What this means for me is that I can setup my camera on a tripod inside the house and shoot through a window screen. While I realize this is less than optimal, it’s convenient and fun! Plus, it doesn’t tend to scare away the birds.

NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/160 sec, ƒ/6.3, ISO 200 | zoom in
Tufted Titmouse

One of the first birds we saw was a Tufted Titmouse. This cute little guy is one of our favorites! The tuft on the top of his head is ‘retractable’ for lack of a better word. Sometimes, it’s sticking up like in the above picture. Other times the top of its head is almost perfectly smooth.

NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/40 sec, ƒ/5.6, ISO 200 | zoom in
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

One of my favorite birds we’ve seen thus far is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. These are a bit bigger than the tiny titmouse and are great fun to watch. Ironically, the female looks almost nothing like the male except for the head shape.

NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/40 sec, ƒ/5.6, ISO 100 | zoom in
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Clearly the same head / beak shape — totally different coloring which actually isn’t all that surprising. After looking through the bird book, it seems there are many species where this is the case.

One of the more common birds we get are finches. American Goldfinches are numerous as are Purple Finches and House Finches. Ironically enough, it’s quite hard to tell the difference between the latter two.

NIKON D200 @ 300mm — ¹/45 sec, ƒ/11, ISO 100 | zoom in
Male Purple Finch on a Bird Feeder

From all we can tell, the above is indeed a Purple Finch. They are quite bright and really fun to watch. However, as much as I think we’ve got the males of the purple finch / house finch debate figured out, the females are even more difficult. Both are brown and beige and neither has any real distinctive markings.

While all of the above photos were taken through a screen, I think they came out pretty good and hey — I had fun!