Infrared zoo

I’ve finally had the chance to do some experimenting with my old dslr today.  It’s a Sony A580, which I sent it off to have the inbuilt filters in front of the sensor removed.  So, now it records more of the light spectrum.  Not infrared at the “see heat in the dark” end of things, but definitely more than our eyes can see.  I’ll play with filters to control the light more (it’s a “full spectrum” conversion, meaning it has UV through to IR), but today I just wanted to try it out, and see how well I could focus.   It proved very much a matter of taking a photo, chimping, and changing the settings, what I see through the viewfinder is no longer at all accurate in terms of exposure and what is recorded.  These photos were all at shutter speeds five times or so faster than I would expect to use in this light.  Which makes sense, because there is much more light being let in.  Someone, somewhere probably has some kind of fancy calculation rules for working this out, but for now I’ll just spin dials until it looks right.

Hello to a star kakapo!


Sirocco inspecting me

Kakapo are the rarest of rare creatures.  As a large plump flightless parrot nesting on the ground and pretty much defenseless, they were especially vulnerable to hungry humans, as well as to the various rats, cats and other tasty-bird-eating creatures who have arrived with humans.  Careful conservation work has bought kakapo back, a little, from extinction – but there are still only 125.    Annnyway, yesterday I got to see Sirocco the Kakapo arriving like a minor rockstar at the Zealandia sanctuary, for an ambassadorial residence in Wellington (most of the year he roams free on his own offshore island).   He is a little too fixated on humans as this justly celebrated incident with Steven Fry’s cameraman showed, which makes him not so useful for the breeding programme, but does make him ideal as a birdy emissary.   Released from his custom travelling box, he immediately ambled up a branch to press against the window and check out who was watching him.   The last photograph is of him looking out of his custom-built enclosure, wistfully, wondering where all the people are going.

Kakapo are nocturnal, so if you do want to see one (and for most people, Sirocco is the only one you’re likely to ever see), maybe book one of Zealandia‘s night tours.


Being released from his travelling box


G’night strange bird

Melbourne zoo, always a nice idle amble

Melbourne zoo is in two parts, one of which is a fair way out of town (Healesville) and focuses on Australia’s impressively weird native fauna, and the other a more traditional zoo near the city.  This has lions and tigers and gorillas and such, all very nicely housed in large and modern enclosures, participating in world conservation breeding programmes, and educating everyone to heck about the critters.     This holiday, it was the town zoo’s turn.  A pleasant way to spend an afternoon, although since it is mid winter at the mo’, many of the more tropically inclined creatures were huddling in warm corners under blankets.

Through alien eyes . . .

My old DSLR (a Sony A580) is now permanently without the usual filter that sits in front of the sensor keeping out stray infrared light.  The camera doesn’t pickup the body-heat end of infrared, but can now capture light beyond what human eyes perceive (aka the visible spectrum), as perhaps aliens and snakes do.

This was taken in my backyard in bright sunlight, but I’m looking forward to venturing further afield and seeing some old places in a new way.

tree infrared

Cabbage tree

After the rain

Yesterday it rained, it rained a lot.  Mainly in the hills, from where the water mixed with a fair amount of soil ran down towards the plains via all the rivers and streams and creeks.   Today this park in Palmerston North was not a peaceful place for a riverside picnic . . .
rain swollen river

Technical nb: f7.1, 1/160 sec ISO 200 lens 50mm


Update:  wandering by the same place now (mid July), the water is long back to normal.  So much less interesting without a flood, and a small dog!
no flood, no fun


I find the troupe of chimps at the small zoo near my house fascinating – their beautiful faces, their mostly affectionate but sometimes stroppy interactions, their energy and interest in whatever is happening around them.  Playing in the sunshine on a rare perfect mid-winter day, this youngling found much entertainment in a piece of sacking. All that could be done with it in terms of wrapping up and waving around (scattering clouds of straw bedding) was explored, with occasionally stops to stare intently at an edge or some detail of texture.

Sitting on the next tier of rock down from the little one playing with the sack, this older chimp seemed remarkably tolerant of the slow rain of floating straw from above.