Tag Archives: rivers

A Walk to the River

On December 8, 2018, the sun was shining and a cold northwest wind was blowing clouds across the sky. Hoping to see an interesting horizon, I walked to the riverbank along Yasugawa (野洲川).

The riverbed is mostly dry, but it supports vegetation near the left bank.

Vegetation along Yasugawa

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

On the riverbed I saw one low cosmos plant with a few flowers. Most of the flowers were drooping down to the muddy ground, but one was standing tall.

Cosmos flower along Yasugawa

Cosmos flower along the right bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

Susuki grass grows abundantly where the riverbed gets enough moisture. Small ponds fill in high water, and some apparently have underground sources.

Vegetation along Yasugawa

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City, Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

Vegetation along Yasugawa (野洲川)

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa (野洲川) in Deba, Ritto City, Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

At my destination beside the river I set up a tripod to photograph little rapids with Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and other mountains in the background. I took many photos as moving clouds rapidly altered the light on different parts of the scene. Finally the mountain showed its autumn colors, and a large patch of blue added perspective to the sky over the distant mountains.

Yasugawa (野洲川)

Yasugawa (野洲川) upstream from Mikami, Yasu City (near Hayashi, Ritto City), Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

Location (Google maps):

Kubon Falls (九品の滝)

One of my favorite places in Ritto City is Kubon Falls (九品の滝), also called Inoue Falls (井上の滝). Here I have been practicing long-exposure photography.

When I began to use a tripod, I was using exposure times of 5-8 seconds with an ND64 filter.

Recently I’ve been trying an ND1000 filter and longer times of 20-60 seconds.

Minerals in the water turn the rocks brown, and moss adds green here and there.

Sometimes we can see wildlife near the falls or down in the valley.

Not many people visit each day, but access by car is easy. A sign, a bus stop, and a small parking lot mark the entrance to the falls from the road up the valley in Inoue.

Usually I go by bicycle, so I can ride up the path along Anakuchigawa (穴口川) all the way to the falls.

I always enjoy the scenic ride back down the valley in Inoue and Misono.

With a bicycle it’s easy to stop and appreciate whatever we see along the road.

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) in Inoue

Rudbeckia hirta flowers (black-eyed susan, キヌガサギク, 衣笠菊) along a rice paddy in Inoue, Ritto City

Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) at Omoigawa (思川)

On Sunday, October 1, 2017, I rode my touring bike along Japan National Route 1 to Omoigawa (思川) in Iwane, Konan City. The ride out was hard and slow as I fought against a strong southeast headwind, but I enjoyed the emerging fall colors along the small river.

Omoigawa (思川) is now more of a canal than a natural river, but it teems with vegetation and wildlife. Fish attract large birds like this grey heron (アオサギ).

Grey heron (アオサギ) at Omoigawa (思川) in Iwane, Konan City

Local authorities in Shiga Prefecture try to educate people about the importance of keeping rivers clean. For example, an old sign explains the relationship between water quality and species of fish and aquatic animals that thrive in rivers.

Trek 520 touring bike parked along Omoigawa (思川) near Chudebashi (中出橋) in Iwane, Konan City, at a large sign which lists species of fish and aquatic animals that live at different water quality levels

The southeast wind was so strong that I decided to make a u-turn at Tsushima Shrine (津島神社), only about 11km from home.

Trek 520 touring bike at Tsushima Jinja (津島神社) along Omoigawa (思川) near Kamiebashi (上出橋) in Iwane, Konan City

As I was resting, I walked over to the nearest bridge, Kamidebashi (上出橋), and saw some Eastern spot-billed ducks (カルガモ) swimming upstream.

Eastern spot-billed ducks (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha, カルガモ ) at Omoigawa (思川) near Kamidebashi (上出橋) in Iwane, Konan City

I shot one still and some video clips with my little Panasonic DMC-LX9. At home I edited the video clips with Kdenlive on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. Editing was minimal. I trimmed and combined clips, added music and titles, boosted color saturation, and reduced brightness a little.

Music: “Drifting” by Jason Shaw at AudionautiX.com, Licensed under a Creative Common Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license.

Egrets in Summer

Yasugawa (野洲川), Shinkansen, Hira mountain range

View from Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋)

In late July and August 2016 I spent many hours on Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋), a bridge that crosses Yasugawa between Ritto City and Yasu City in Shiga Prefecture, Japan (map).

From the sidewalk the view downstream provided a good change to observe large birds, especially great egrets (ダイサギ) as they stood around and sometimes flew, fished, and fought. With my camera I tried to record some of the behavior of these beautiful white birds. Photos presented here are from my photostream on Flickr.

Challenges

Waiting for action

Photographing these beautiful white birds presented several challenges. The first challenge was boredom. Most of the time they stood without moving, often several hundred meters away. Even at a distance, sometimes they caught my attention, especially when they moved in pairs.

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Exposure compensation

The second challenge was exposure of these great white birds against a background that changed as they moved. I had to discard many photos before I learned to underexpose -0.3 to -1.7 EV, depending on the background.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Exposure was most critical with backlit egrets flying in late afternoon light.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Action

The third challenge was capturing action. Timing was critical, of course, but I also tried to keep action in the frame while adjusting the zoom lens and holding the camera level. Most difficult and most interesting were conflicts over territory.

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

A few times I wished that I’d shot video instead of still photos, especially this combat scene.

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Great egrets (ダイサギ)

Birds catching fish

When I began to take photos from the bridge, I was hoping to see birds catching fish. Sometimes I had to wait a long time, but a few scenes were worth the wait. For example, once a cormorant was after a small fish, but a great egret ran over and snatched it.

Great cormorant (カワウ) and great egret (ダイサギ)

Great cormorant (カワウ) and great egret (ダイサギ)

Great cormorant (カワウ) and great egret (ダイサギ)

Great cormorant (カワウ) and great egret (ダイサギ)

Sometimes egrets seem to dance as they chase fish.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Sometimes their diving is pretty intense.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Sometimes they use their wings to maintain balance.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Sometimes they toss fish in the air to swallow them head-first.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Late afternoon colors

Just before sunset, the colors became very warm.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

 

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Sharing the view

Many people passed on bicycles and on foot. Now and then someone would stop to chat, and sometimes people stopped just to share the view from the bridge.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Location

Technical notes

Photos were shot as JPEG with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II camera and an Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens. Sometimes I used the Olympus 1.4x teleconverter, and sometimes I used 2x magnification.

Saving only JPEG enabled me to shoot very long bursts at 5 frames per second. Without such long bursts I could not have captured territorial disputes or some fishing scenes. In the future this kind of photography might be done by saving stills from high-resolution video recordings.

I processed the photos with DigiKam on a Fedora Linux workstation and uploaded them to my photostream on Flickr.

 

Grey herons and great egrets in December – 12月のアオサギとダイサギ

From late March until mid October the rivers and fields near my home in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, are full of grey herons and great egrets. In autumn they fly south. By late November nearly all of them have gone, but each year a few remain. This December, 2015, I’ve seen at least one grey heron and two great egrets.

One grey heron has remained in Omifuji, Yasu City. This bird often stands along Oyamakawa, a small stream that has plenty of little fish to support a small population of herons, egrets, and kingfishers.

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Sometimes the heron perches on the top of the riverbank, on the roof of a nearby factory, or above a pipeline that crosses the river (map).

Grey heron (アオサギ)

A grey heron also appears now and then at the lower pond on the left bank of Yasugawa near Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City. I don’t know if this is the same bird that I see in Omifuji. It often stands on the same large rock (map).

Grey heron (アオサギ)

In early December a great egret and several common cormorants joined the heron to catch fish in the pond, which became isolated from Yasugawa as the water level dropped.

Grey heron (アオサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Grey heron (アオサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and common cormorants (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) and common cormorant (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

On the 28th of December a grey heron and two egrets were walking along Oyamakawa in Omifuji, Yasu City. The egrets were really shy, but I could get relatively close to the heron.

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ)

As the three birds moved downstream, they took turns flying to locations near one another. Finally they separated, and one of the great egrets flew to the mouth of Oyamakawa a little upstream from Yasugawa Ohashi (map).

Great egret (ダイサギ) and grey heron (アオサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Great egret (ダイサギ)

I’m looking forward to watching these magnificent birds throughout the winter.