Monday, November 16, 2009

Lack of Photo Ops & Chops

Monday, November 16, 2009
Roseate spoonbill.

I've been in a dry spell for taking interesting bird photographs lately. Partly due to being busy with work, life, and other stuff (IS there other stuff?), partly due to the fact that I haven't been anywhere that offered decent photo opportunities, and partly due to my dissatisfaction with my modest skills. What images I have managed to snap have mostly had one problem or another due to "operator error." I know enough to know that I don't know enough about my camera.

For me to get a really great bird photo, the planets have to align perfectly. This seems to happen about as often as the Comet Kohoutek passes within view, or as often as the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series.

In order for me to take a decent bird image, the following things have to fall into place:
  • I have to be close to the bird.
  • The bird has to be relaxed and not moving very fast or very far.
  • The bird's head and eye(s) need to be visible.
  • The light needs to be good (not too bright/too dark) with the sun behind me and the bird in front of me.
  • I have to have the right lens on my camera.
  • The compact flash card inside the camera has to have some space on it.
  • The camera's batteries have to be charged.
This last point was the clincher this past weekend when I spotted an American tree sparrow in our birch tree. Perfect light, calm bird, grabbed my camera, aimed it, hit the shutter button and nothing happened.

I believe it was the second part of the compound expletive I shouted that scared the sparrow into woods, never to return.

I keep on telling myself that one of these days I'm going to find the time to finally learn how to use my camera and all its fancy settings. And then I'm going to make time to get myself into situations that are conducive to taking many, many bird pictures. When that happens, because my brain is swollen with all that camera-using knowledge, I won't have to toss out 86% of the images I take, because I'll know how to use the camera properly!

Roseate spoonbill.

Looking at the calendar, I'm thinking the late-January trip to Florida for the Space Coast Birding Festival might be my next best opportunity. Phoebe is traveling with me for that event, so she can be my sharp-eyed bird spotter. Maybe I can get another shot of a flying spoonbill when I'm there.

That is, if I remember to charge the camera batteries.


On November 16, 2009 at 6:34 PM Susan said...

I so totally agree with every single point..and can add one more..have the camera with you. I often remember that one just when I see a great shot, and realize the camera's on the counter, right where I put it so I'd remember to take it.

On November 16, 2009 at 9:04 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

Whoa, SpiderZ is here too. Quick, click on his link! It will be so entertainment!

On November 16, 2009 at 11:49 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Gotta love those blog spammers! Imagine if THAT was your job!

On November 17, 2009 at 12:11 PM Anonymous said...

Don't be so hard on your photo results/skills. Your top Roseate shot in flight is very good and skillful. It is hard to get birds in flight. Additionally, i have seen many very good shots of birds visiting your blog over time. Having retired from Professional Photography (not wildlife) a few years ago i can attest also with you, very good picture results take work and reading and rereading the Camera/photo instructions! Keep up your good work i love reading and viewing you blog reports!!
Gary Wayne

On November 17, 2009 at 10:28 PM Mary said...

Lucky Phoebe ;-) Bill, I'm so glad I came here tonight for lots of chuckles. You're truthful - The most intense expletives I shouted over a bird was during my first fantastic photo opp of a Sharp-shinned without a battery in the camera. It wasn't purdy.

Don't be so humble. Your photos rock.