Solar panels and ethernet

While we finish the Raymarine install–just some final mounting things to get done that have been waiting on materials to arrive–plenty more has been done. More of the Raymarine gear is installed, including the rudder sensor and linear drive, the SeaTalkNG/NMEA2000 network has been running beautifully for weeks now, and I’ve gotten the Signal K server all set up. With the last step, I also added a RuuviTag environmental sensor outside that is linked to the CerboGX over bluetooth, providing temperature, humidity, and pressure data.

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Spring arrives in February this year

It may not be spring by the calendar, but the plants and birds sure think it is. We’ve gotten a very early spring here on the west coast and all the local birds are busy with mating displays and nest building. The normally easy-to-shoot Anna’s hummingbirds are non-stop bundles of energy right now, chasing each other around in mating displays. The only shot I got of one this morning was of a resting male with a bad lighting angle:

Anna's hummingbird (male)

Anna’s hummingbird (male)

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2014 Photo Year-in-Review: Equipment

(Don’t bother reading this post unless you’re interested in the equipment side of photography, you’ll be bored)

Within a week of the beginning of 2014 I bought my first super-telephoto lens: the Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6. After renting large primes (notably, the Nikon 300mm VR and VRII, ~$3000 and ~$5500 lenses, respectively) from Glazers, a local camera equipment and rental business here in Seattle, I decided it would be worth my while to buy something with significant reach for myself. While those Nikon lenses were way out of my budget (not just the primes, zooms as well), I was able able to pick up the Sigma for about $900. An expensive bit of kit, no doubt, but comparatively reasonable.

Something like 90-95% of the shots I took during 2014 were with this lens, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. As I tell people, “you need a big lens for little birds.” While I feel I’m ready for an upgrade, I’m still able to consistently get great results, and I’ll be keeping this lens around as a backup for a while.

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How birding and photography have changed my approach to the outdoors

If you’ve known me for a few years previous to this blog post, you’ll know that this whole birding and photography hobby is actually relatively new. In fact, getting into it was something of an accident: in September of 2013 I purchased my first DSLR. Originally I’d gotten it because I’d just left my job and was taking a several month break before looking for a new position. I’d also just adopted the second of my two parrots, and really wasn’t satisfied with the photos I was able to take with either my smartphone (at the time and still as of this writing the excellent HTC One) or an older Panasonic Lumix.

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