How I Spent My 39th Anniversary

June 14, 2013 16:20 – 16:20

Just about every Friday I venture down to the nearest Hardees for breakfast. The nearest Hardees is in Stafford. After breakfast, if it’s not too hot, I then go for an 8 mile photohike at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Today was a perfect day for Occoquan Bay. Except, when I got there. I was met by this:

WTF? I haven’t investigated yet, but I wonder if maybe they’ve found improperly disposed chemical waste. The site was formerly occupied by Diamond Labs, which did defense contracting and research. It was acquired as part of the federal lands-to-parks program, I believe.

Anyway, this meant that I had to go to my other Friday hike destination—Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge and Mason Neck State Park. The two adjoin. I usually park in the NWR and hike down to the state park. That’s what I did today, taking my new SX50HS camera with me for additional testing and evaluation.

All of the photos in this blog posting were taken using the new camera. I have three complaints so far, but I’m not sure they’re enough to make me send it back for a refund. One is that the diopter adjustment control does not let me achieve perfect visual focus when focusing through the viewfinder (as opposed to using the LCD screen). The second is that the camera seems to have difficulty focusing on small objects in the foreground—things like birds! This is a pretty significant issue. With my SLR, I solve the problem by focusing manually. Nothing beats a focusing ring. With this camera—which is a kind of hybrid higher end point and shoot—manual focus is tedious and difficult—which is my third complaint.

But, the real question is… do its pictures not suck? About 2.5 miles into today’s trek, I found something photo-worthy—an Eastern bluebird. I couldn’t really tell if the camera was focusing correctly. The answer is meh.

It’s okay, but not the kind of crisp focus I’m used to with my SLRs. Here he is on a different perch.

A little better, but I later discovered that I had auto-bracketing turned on. And this was the “underexposed” shot in a trio of shots. So, it’s not a good test.

A short while after that, I happened upon a great blue heron. Again… kind of fuzzy.

The next sighting was a bald eagle in flight. Despite the focusing issues, this next picture demonstrates why I might keep the camera. I could not tell that this was an eagle until I looked at the picture later. That’s because the bird was a tiny speck in the sky. This camera, however, has a 50x optical zoom. From at least a third of mile away, I managed to get a decent shot.

Next, I saw a drift lizard!

And my daily dose of irony:

A discarded bait container:

I have no idea what this thing is…

This might be a type of lupine. I can’t be certain, but there were lots of them blooming and growing in the water.

I’m not sure what the camera was focusing on… but it clearly wasn’t focused just on the flower, since it’s slightly out of focus.

Our state insect was in evidence today, and seemed enamored of the blue/purple flowers.

Here’s about where I discovered that my aspect ratio was wrong, and fixed it.

And then, a shadow crossed me, and I looked up, and saw this. I do not know what kind of bird it is!

By the way, if you have kids, Mason Neck State Park is a great place for a picnic. It has a huge play structure and lots of picnic tables… some of them are covered and can be reserved for groups.

And here’s proof that I was there. Or, somewhere, at least.

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