Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another learning curve

Well, today was the day that I decided to read the owner’s manual for my new camera.  I’ve been using several of the options that are available to me, but there’s a lot I have to learn to get better results from my photographic endeavors.  I wanted to learn how to control the shutter speed myself, rather than use only automatic settings.  I’m hoping to get the quintessential hummingbird picture, and in order to do that I have to stop their wings in mid flight.  So, it was an afternoon of experimentation.  And guess what?  You’re going to get to see a work in progress.  :)
I did more than experiment with hummingbirds today, so I’m going to post a variety of pictures and try to explain what I had in mind.  If you’re not in the mood for that, feel free to “X” me out.  :)  All of these pictures were taken with the 75-300mm zoom lens on board.
_MG_2039I started out trying to get a shot of “Henry”, the resident Swainson’s Hawk, soaring overhead.  I had the zoom out to it’s max, and I think this is kind of grainy looking.  :(  He was too high up to get a good crisp, detailed picture.
_MG_2047Next, was a shot of my neighbor, Jim, and his dog Star.  Earlier in the afternoon, Star had finally caught one of those pesky ground squirrels in her mouth.  I think it surprised her as much as it did the squirrel!  She dropped it when it squealed, and it took off.  Then she caught it again, and dropped it again.  It eventually ran across the road out of harm’s way.  One of it’s relatives ran under their rig, so they were both investigating.  I was hoping this picture would tell a story, or at least make you wonder what was going on.
_MG_2048 _MG_2051
Emma and Star have a great time romping with each other.  I was trying to stop the action on their shenanigans.
_MG_2054I HAVE MY EYE ON YOU!  A white-crowned sparrow at the top of the pine tree in my yard.  I wish he had poked his head a little further to the left.
_MG_2073Now it’s time for a few hummingbirds.  This is a male rufous hummingbird.  You can only barely see a bit of his brilliant red chin (which is only visible when reflecting direct sunlight).  Had he perched on the left side of the feeder facing the sun, I think this would have been a stunning shot.  Those darn little birds just don’t listen to my directions, though.  :)  I was happy with the detail and clarity of this little hummer.
_MG_2066 _MG_2118 _MG_2124
The right two pictures are of a female rufous hummingbird.  I learned two things with these pics.  In the middle one, I finally solved the problem I was having of getting what I wanted in a picture to be in focus.  While the bird’s head is in too much shade, at least she is in focus and not the pine needles.  On the right, I was able to stop the wings in motion.  ( you can click on a photo to enlarge) 
_MG_2059 IMG_2103
Again, I learned about distances with the telephoto and such small subjects.  These pics are not as crisp and in focus as I would like, but what fun it was to capture this little male approaching Jim’s pine tree and perching to defend his feeder.  I just love these little mighty mites!  Their life is short, but they live it to the fullest!  (Ha ha! Did you notice that I at least got the little dude’s wings stopped?)
IMG_2111I liked this photo just for the new symmetrical growth on the pine tree.  The pine siskin was a bonus.

Well, that’s my little journey into self improvement for today.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Tomorrow I think I’ll tell you about the return of the motorhome gremlins that are throwing another challenge in my way.  :(

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. You have got yourself a real fine start into learning the workings of your camera. Try using your flash to fill in shadows & highlight colors if the subject is not too distant. You can also easily bump up your ISO to give you faster shutter speeds too depending on the lighting. It is the eye of the bird I generally try to concentrate on if it's close enough. You can sharpen up your image a tad using Picasa too. If your shooting 300mm your shutter speed should be a minimum of 1/300th of second at the lowest end. Your camera may also let you control what type of focusing you can use so you might want to check your manual under focusing. At 300mm a tripod is a huge help for bird's at a feeder. Keep up the good work Judy.....the more you shoot the better you will get:))

  2. I definitely see progress...especially with the hummers. Your photos are always great but those little tiny birds are tough to photograph. I like the wings stopped in motion which is much better than my blurred ones. Great pics today!!!
    Continue to have fun with that camera!!

    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  3. Great shots of the hummingbirds. Learning to use a new camera is always interesting and a lot of fun.

  4. Your doing well with your pictures and your new camera, I've seen some great shots.

    I have a Cannon Rebel XT and never gotten off the auto modes, guess I better get busy and read the manual or watch the video I have.

  5. great photographs Judy!

    thanks so much for your comments on my blog!!

    have a great holiday, no matter how you celebrate it ~ it is about freedom!

  6. Judy and Emma said...on Al's blog:
    "Hmmm, I'm blonde and living in a winabagel!! Two strikes against me I guess. :)"

    No, no strikes against you, Judy!!

    I wish I could master my camera, the directions just confuse me more. Your pictures are great. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX