Puffins of Machias Seal Island
Puffins are highly social birds but, often it’s hard to tell what’s really happening. In the first photo, I believe the trio in the foreground is gossiping but, it’s possible it’s two males about to get it on over a female. Since it’s impossible to tell males and females apart so it’s also possible it’s three females griping about the lack of eligible males. (just kidding)
I’m pretty sure the second photo is of a nesting pair but they haven’t yet produced an egg. Otherwise, one or the other would be sitting on it. The third photo is a bit sad. It’s either a male with nest building material looking for a female to “play house” or it’s a male who’s lost his mate. The reason I think it’s a male is because a female wouldn’t stand around looking forlorn. She would be busy building the nest, assuming the guy is watching TV at the local bar!
The first photo is another angle of the guy with nest building materials in his beak. The second photo shows a pair on a nest. They either have an egg or are very close to it. The last photo is the only one made with the 5D MkII and 70-200/4L. All the others were made with a Canon 7D with the 70-200/4L + 1.4TC. The last photo is also one of the first where I applied a positive vignette. I usually apply a negative vignette (slider under Effects) to slightly darken the corners and draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. In this case, the light BG seemed to call for a positive (light) vignette.
Puffins only display the colorful beak and yellow cheek “rosette” during nesting season. Both males and females have the same coloring. The heads are not white but a very light gray. Like so many creatures, Atlantic puffins are considered “Threatened,” just one step removed from “Endangered.” In the past, Atlantic puffins were hunted to near extinction along the New England coast. By 1900, just two small colonies remained off the Maine coast. Here is a link to a good Atlantic puffin FAQ.
As previously mentioned, I use Lightroom 4 (LR4) for almost all my processing anymore. A good reason for making the switch to LR is that Adobe Photoshop CS (Creative Suite) is no longer offered as a stand-alone product. It can only be purchased as a subscription model. I don’t know about you but paying $50/month for an entire suite of tools of which I would only use about 5% is a beyond silly. I’m currently at Photoshop CS4 and plan to never again upgrade.
The transition to LR entails yet another learning curve. Some people thrive on the challenge while others just want to “git ‘er done!” For photographers of either bent, the best resource for learning LR is George Jardine. I know I sound like a shill, a broken record of a shill, to be exact but George really is the best. Applying what I’ve learned from George’s videos, I can now import, tag, sort, develop and output hundreds of photos in just a fraction of the time it used to take with Photoshop CS4 and Bridge. Most importantly, I now have a clear grasp of what LR controls do, how to apply them and how to evaluate the results. How often have you agonized over a photo, wondering if one treatment was better, worse or the same as another? Now, you can actually know what you’re doing! What a concept!
I don’t get a nickel from George, I just want my readers to get the best they can out of their photos and George’s videos are the path to LR enlightenment. So, today’s LR Tip is, “If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it but haven’t installed it, install it. If you’ve been flailing around inside it, check out George’s videos.”
By the way, LR is NOT for you if you want to mangle pixels through cutting, pasting and otherwise changing the appearance or position of photo elements. LR is NOT for the scrapbook contingent or “Look at my adorable (baby, puppy, kitty, etc)” crowd.
More on Acadia National Park
Long time readers will recognize my penchant for the absurd. As I alluded in my previous post, Acadia is actually a monument to Old Money, as opposed to, say, Old Faithful. The first photo shows stainless steel rails and a freshly painted walkway at a scenic area. There may be others but this is the first time I’ve seen stainless steel handrails throughout a NP. The next two photos show how even water is carefully channeled and diverted to its proper place. I must admit, they did a nice job of selecting and placing the rocks.
The first photo shows the South Ridge Trailhead at the top of Cadillac Mountain. I was trying to make a photo without the blue trail markers on the rocks but it was impossible. Really? Trail markers on a 1300′, 3.5 mile trail? Is this a Cub Scout training course? The 2nd photo is my effort to try to photograph our RV at the top of Cadillac Mountain without the gazillion tourists and cars. Yes, Yellowstone, Yosemite and other western NPs are crowded but, seriously, so many people and cars that I have to walk into the middle of bushes to block all the clutter?
The last photo is the raison d’être for Acadia National Park, the toney ‘hood of Bar Harbor. This is what Rockefeller and his cronies wanted to protect by declaring the surrounding land a national park. Ain’t America great, money can buy anything including a national park for your backyard.