Fab 40

The Fab 40 pay tribute to the original Fab 4 with a free, live performance of “Abbey Road” on Saturday, September 12 at Discovery Green.

40+ (probably closer to 50) local musicians – handpicked by Beatles enthusiasts David Blassingame and Steve Candelari – performed the Beatles’ album “Abbey Road” from beginning to end.

It was an ambitious project. Nearly felled by illness, loss of critical instruments and the weather, it went very well despite all this.

Fab 40

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Fab 40

Fab 40

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Fab 40

Fab 40

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Fab 40

Fab 40

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Fab 40

Fab 40

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Fab 40

You can see a slideshow of all the photos I took that night by clicking here.

Roy Head

Roy Head is one of my all time favorite performers. He’s a local legend due to his 1965 hit single “Treat Her Right”

Check out the moves on the young Roy Head in this video from 1965

He’s about to turn 70 next month but you’d never know it from the energy level of his live performances.

All shots below with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on the Sony Alpha 700

Roy Head

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Roy Head

Roy Head

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Roy Head

Roy Head

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Roy Head

Soul Fest – 2009 – The El Orbits

The current line up of The El Orbits is Thomas Escalante on vocals, Jim Henkel on guitar, Allen Hill on the bass and Eric C. Hughes on the drums. On Saturday night they opened for Roy Head, Barbara Lynn and Archie Bell. They also served quadruple duty as the backing band for each of the acts throughout the entire evening.

For this show I used three different Sigma lenses on the Sony Alpha 700, each of which is represented below.

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 – Click for larger image
The El Orbits

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The El Orbits

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 – Click for larger image
The El Orbits

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The El Orbits

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 Fisheye – Click for larger image
The El Orbits

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The El Orbits

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

This weekend has been a lot of fun photographing the hummers. At one point we had as many as 4 battling for supremacy in skies over the feeders. The most interesting has been what I assume is a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird who comes in much less frequently than the others.

These birds are fiercely territorial. The hummer in my initial batch of photos has laid claim to the feeders. He will sit atop the crook that holds the feeders or in the nearby Meyer’s Lemon Tree and chases off any interlopers that venture into his domain. Sadly, the Ruby Throated gets chased off every time he shows up so we don’t see him often, and when we do see him he only stays for a few moments.

Still, I have managed to capture a few good shots as evidenced in the previous post and here are two more.

In this picture will notice how he strains his neck as he scans for the dominant hummer

Ruby Throated

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Ruby Throated

And In this picture you can see he doesn’t even land on the perch, choosing instead to hover for a better chance at a quick getaway should the Bully of Hummertown return.

Ruby Throated

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Ruby Throated

Be sure and click the above images to see a larger, more detailed photo.

I can’t say enough good things about the Sony SAL-70300G lens I have been using. Sharp as a tack and the IQ is phenomenal when using it to focus and track such small and fast moving targets.

The Honeypot

Hummingbird Honeypot

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Hummingbird Honeypot

Once the feeders have been up for awhile you get a sense of which of the perches they’ll tend to favorite. This allows me to setup the camera on a tripod, take aim and wait with the wired remote in hand.

This was shot with the flash and using the 70-300G lens

Hummingbird w/flash

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Hummingbird w/flash

This was shot with no flash using the 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens

Hummingbird w/macro

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Hummingbird w/macro

And this was with the 500mm Reflex and no flash.

Hummingbird w/Reflex

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Hummingbird w/Reflex

Allen’s Hummingbird?

We’re pretty sure this is a female Allen’s Hummingbird we have visiting. She’s very curious and even hovered outside the back window and just looked at Cynthia. I didn’t have the camera ready for that but she did come back and flash us with her gold throat. Click the image to see a larger version.

Allen's Hummingbird

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Allen's Hummingbird

Backyard Birding Report – Aug. 9th, 2009

I was sleeping in on a Sunday. Cynthia was kind enough to close the bedroom door while she worked around the house and I was snoozing quite soundly when the bedroom door was flung open and Cynthia ran in, urgently telling me to get out of bed and saying “come quickly for birdage!”

There’s a tone Cynthia gets when it’s important. I respond on a very subconscious level to this tone. I knew something was up and it was important so I jumped out of bed and followed Cynthia to breakfast room.

She pointed to the window saying “It’s an Eagle or something!!”

I looked and there was no Eagle. But there was Hawk sitting on the fence that divides the back patio from the driveway. What a sight!

The blinds were down with the slats open so you could see out the window but it was not ideal for a photograph. I knew that if we were to raise the blinds the hawk would probably just fly away. If I had any hope of getting a photo of this guy I would need to do it through the blinds without moving them at all.

Fortunately for me, my camera was on the table and already mounted with my Sony SAL-70-300G lens. This lens is pretty remarkable and I was counting on it to be able to spot focus on the bird THROUGH the blinds. It was the only chance I would have.

I grabbed the camera, switched it on and quickly made the necessary adjustments and fired off two quick shots before the hawk flew off.

This is either a juvenile Red Shouldered Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. I am betting it’s a Cooper’s.

The blinds make the shot a little on the soft side but all in all, it came out pretty well I think. Especially considering I went from sleeping soundly to shooting this picture in probably less than 60 or so seconds.

The last time I got a shot of a Hawk was back in 2007 at West 11th St. Park in The Heights and I have been itching to get something like this ever since I noticed him flying around the neighborhood.

Backyard Birding Report – August 2nd, 2009

House Finch

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House Finch

While watching the feeding frenzy that is the swarms of sparrows and doves along with the smattering of Blue Jay’s, Cardinals, House Finches (pictured above) and Grackles that visit the yard I noticed a bright, almost translucent orange streak zoom in and land on the patio.

Orange Bishop

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Orange Bishop

I had initially thought it might be an Oriole or even a Scarlet Tanager but after some online research I am confident that what we have here is an Orange Bishop also known as the Red Bishop, Grenadier Weaver, Orange Bishop Weaver, and Orange Weaver.

The markings are a dead match from the black midsection to the sparrow-like markings of the wingtips.

The problem with this identification is that the Orange Bishop is a native of sub-Saharan Africa. Suffice to say, he’s not from around here. I am guessing he’s an escaped pet although I have heard there were reports of Orange Bishops at Storey County Park on West Belt by Bellaire a few years ago and that’s not too far from where I live.

Fortunatley I had the camera at the ready, though he didn’t hang around long enough to get as good a shot as I would have liked. Hopefully he’ll come back.

Squabble Of Wrens

Cynthia and I were in the TV room when we heard a commotion outside the front window. We looked out and spotted an adult Carolina Wren herding 3-4 fledglings through the front garden. After a bit they moved past the window and out of sight. I grabbed my camera and threw on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

When I opened the front door I was surprised to see the mamma wren on the Bottlebrush tree right next to the porch.

Mamma Wren

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Mamma Wren

Right after I snapped her picture she chittered loudly and flew off only to be replaced by one of the fledglings

Baby Wren

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Baby Wren

Who soon departed only to be replaced by another

Baby Wren

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Baby Wren

And this went on as the family continued moving from one side of the front garden to the other. It was a sight to see and noisy! The adult Wrens were fussing at the babies and at us as we watched and the babies were making the usual “feed me” noises…