A SERIA SUNRISE. THE MORNING AFTER.

After an entire day of shooting from an Air Force Bell 212 helicopter yesterday plus slightly over an hour’s commute back  home in Seria, I turned in earlier than usual. I had also run out of Nescafe Gold so there in the absence of stimulants I decided not to fight fatigue and gave in. But before that, I mustered enough energy head out for a light Japanese dinner with my wife.

Check out the egrets formation over  the lake below—to soar higher than the birds was quite simply divine—I had less than 10 seconds window to take this shot and it was really the hardest ten seconds of decision making I’ve had to make realizing that if I made the wrong one, I might not have a second chance so I took it anyway with the 24-70mm! I wish I had a second 5DII with the 70-200mm mounted.

aerial-egrets-formation

Thing is this, I normally have on an average about 6 hours of sleep so having an earlier-than-usual night meant I got up earlier than usual too. But that’s not the reason I captured this beautiful dramatic sunrise—the sun had just risen half way and in a few minutes, the scene would be completely different.

morning-landscape

It used to be that I fancied the hornbills more than the egrets because of their rarity and relatively small in numbers. But lately, that changed when I began noticing interesting flight patterns of the heron or Burong Apuh as they’re known locally and began taking an interest in their behaviour—which is rather unpredictable.

morning-landscape-2

In my last post When Birds Get Territorial, there were birds in my neighbourhood that were obviously not in good terms with one another and I now know why—green cicadas which are smaller than the black ones and I guess being smaller makes them easier to peck at.

bird-cicada

These mean looking black cicadas are a common sight and if the birds favoured them along with the green ones, there wouldn’t be any to photograph knowing how sharp their eyes are when it comes to food especially the inanimate ones like sitting duck.

bigger-cicada

HORNBILLS IN FLIGHT PART 2

UPDATE Oct 07, 2008: SUNNY MORNING RHAPSODY
UPDATE Oct 06, 2008: HORNBILLS LOOKING FOR FOOD AMONG US

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jude Williams of Bobolee Chronicles for the support although it amuses me to suddenly find myself a “wildlife photographer” when perhaps my peers and clients know me more of an Corporate Events / Commercial guy. Perhaps the cries of the hornbills have been my calling.

© Bobolee Chronicles

It’s official and in case you haven’t noticed (or registered), we have Hornbill School, Hornbill Apartments, Hornbill Drink at the Panaga Club and Hornbills, our feathery friends that have made oil town SERIA their home! On my way home from badminton around 5pm yesterday, driving past Seria town heading home, I saw in the distance a shadowy pair of hornbills flying towards me—the unmistakable 3-flaps-and-glide pattern. When they finally got out of the shadows into the beaming sunset glow the sight was beautiful. Moments like this I wished I had my camera with me. So I headed home and grabbed my 20D/100-400mm and headed back out to town for another hornbill adventure …

These pair were spotted right (pardon the pun) at the power station right across from Shell refinery. Looking at them through the viewfinder and seeing the left bird pecking at the spot light left me amused. It might have seen a mirror-reflection of itself thinking there’s a third-party involved :)

© Jan Shim Photography

What happens next I guess is a stroke of luck. You cannot take your eyes off them and having learnt this lesson, I know better. In spite of that wisdom and experience it’s still fairly difficult to capture them in flight unless you have the right equipment: extremely fast AF and accurate AI SERVO with high fps but I make do with my EOS 20D which is more than capable of getting the shot! Here, one of them took a dive into a tree below and spent the next 5 minutes or so hopping from branch to branch before finally taking off!

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

Taking a breather while the birds are lost in the trees, one of the curious uniformed security guards from the power station who had earlier given me the thumbs-up said he’d seen the “Burong Enggang” (hornbill in Malay language) on the DST EASI PREPAID cards. He seemed delighted when I told him that’s one of my pictures … moments before one of the birds took off towards the refinery while the second followed shortly but nearly got hit by an on coming car … quite the excitement catching them in flight though not always the case.

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

Realizing that it’s too dark for any more hornbill adventure, I drove around a bit and came across this sunset sihouette of a nearby nodding donkey (the one next to the water tower in town). I’ve been scouting the areas for a week now looking for the best and most dramatic vantage point and I guess this works! It would certainly complement my SERIA SUNRISE SILHOUETTES and complete the picture, so to speak!

© Jan Shim Photography

HORNBILLS LOOKING FOR FOOD AMONG US
These pictures were captured earlier this afternoon when our amah spotted one at the gate just as she was getting the laundry in. By the time I grabbed the camera, loaded a CF card and went downstairs, it had flown from the overhead cable to the fence and hopped onto the neighbour’s air-conditioner where it found what appeared to be its main food—berries. I can understand berries the find in the wild but finding them trapped inside A/C wall is incredible. Perhaps this is where an 8.5 fps camera comes in handy with an increased frame rate to capture it dunking the berry into its mouth.

© Jan Shim Photography

Shortly it flew to the neighbour across the road and I instinctively followed. Having 640mm helps but you always find yourself wanting more. Luckily for me, these birds are quite used to human presence that they go about their business until you become a threat.

© Jan Shim Photography

This neighbour, unlike most neighbours, has a rather rudimentary accommodation and I’ve always thought the fire engine red mail box is the one thing that stands out. It’s just loud compared to everything else there so today one bird decided to pry into the opening but to no avail.

© Jan Shim Photography

SUNNY MORNING RHAPSODY

As with most mornings, the piercing cries of the hornbills penetrate the house as they go about their usual business, going from tree to tree, hopping from branch to branch and transiting on TV antenna. This morning in particular, the difference being I went after them this time going from patio to patio and later found myself in the middle of a big empty field caught right in the middle of the echoing cries—two hornbills visited my kampong but got separately shortly thereafter.

© Jan Shim Photography

I captured a series of fly-by shots after I resumed position at the kitchen patio and observed the pair in the distant tree. After I was baked in the scorching sun for a good 15-20 minutes they decided to take off and (viola!) in my direction, well almost!

© Jan Shim Photography

This grand finale is a composite from two images that I managed to capture in focus and in good light! I’m delighted with the results from three days of consecutive shoot.

© Jan Shim Photography

RELATED HORNBILL LINKS

SERIA SUNRISE SILHOUETTES

Share

It’s been five years now since I moved into the Sungai Bera neighbourhood and being an early person, I have seen and photographed many glorious sunrises from my kitchen balcony—the vantage point from which a number of photographs have been captured, and consumed notably DST EASI Pre-Paid Cards (“Flock of Birds“, “K.B. Sunset“, “Hornbill“). Note that “K.B. Sunset” is in fact a Seria Sunrise, something that’s that easily mistaken for a sunset.

So I thought I had seen it all until one morning when my early-bird daughter who’s getting ready for school came running into the room and got me out of bed. Click here to see a slightly larger version of the landscape.

Seria Morning Silhouette

A Seria Sunrise Silhouette © Jan Shim Photography

Now, if you look at the pair of dried out trees on the bottom left, that’s where these two hornbills perched in the picture below (originally posted in HORNBILL IN FLIGHT).

Hornbills Silhouette © Jan Shim Photography

Hornbills Silhouette © Jan Shim Photography

Zooming back out to the scene in the first picture, to the right of the entire scene (not captured above) lies another tree with a distinctive branching that when combined with dark clouds made a compelling black and white art as originally posted in HORNBILL USHERING MONDAY BLUES.

Hornbill Silhouette © Jan Shim Photography

Hornbill Silhouette © Jan Shim Photography

As beautiful as a glowing orange sunrise is along with the silhouette it produces, it is fairly rare. On this particular morning at 6.30, an excited Jewel dashed into the bedroom having caught sight of the unusual orange ambience in the kitchen shot through the large achitecturally-unspiring window!
SUNNY SIDE UP. A SERIA SUNRISE.

Sunny Side Up. A Seria Sunrise. © Jan Shim Photography

Sunny Side Up. A Seria Sunrise. © Jan Shim Photography

Silhouettes aren’t complete until you have both day and night shots and you could say a photograph of the moon makes the ultimate silhouette. Shot from the very same balcony on Sept 25, 2007 Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at 640mm (someday I’ll attempt another shot with stacked extenders).

Full Moon on Moon Festival

Full Moon on Mid-Autumn Moon Festival