Sunday, May 23, 2010

They are toying with me...

My camera is on me at all times now; hummingbird season has arrived in Utah.
The high pitched sound of a TRRRIILLL above my head has me whirling about, looking for a flash of red and green that would signal the presence of a little hummer.
Sometimes I get lucky:

My dinner sat getting cold as I held my camera to the window beside our kitchen table, waiting for the hummer to land so I could get this shot.

It was worth the wait, don't you think?

Almost like shooting a sitting duck!
So easy!
Now I want to know what it would take to get a photo with non-blurred wings too.
Clearly a faster something or other camera setting.
I'll have to drop by the camera store and ask if there is a way to do that with this particular camera.
My birthday gift camera (A Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5V) pulls a 10x optical zoom.
That's quite an upgrade from my first digital camera that I got four years ago.
It only had 3x optical zoom.
It was a DSC -W50; it still does an awesome job on macro, but since the electronics were beginning to break down (spots started showing up in my pictures) and then I dropped it and the display screen went half black...well...let's just say that I used my birthday gift money to indulge my passion for nature photography.
Thank you Bernie, Mom and Dad S. and Mom and Dad D.!

Even with 10x optical zoom, I still stretch out my arms as far out as I can to get just a tiny bit more detail in my shots.

Sometimes (like this morning for instance) I take 43 shots of a resting hummingbird in order to get four that are in focus.

The picture above: not quite in focus. That's because the camera display screen shows where the focus point resides in any zoom shot; my vision and sometimes shaky hands often do not co-operate to make tiny bird fit into the "sweet" spot perfectly.

Above: Here's how the picture looks when I get it right!

And I do want it right: I want to see each tiny jewel like feather on the bird's little bib.

Add to the challenge the fact that the rosy red feathers only flash red at certain angles.
In a nano second the bird can shift just slightly and I will miss the shot that would have captured that wonderful glistening red.
The top shot of these above two is still a pretty good shot...but I want to see the red!

What a big difference is created with just a teeny tiny shift in bird posture.

(I personally think they know that, and shift about deliberately just to toy with me.)

Here's the bird at mid-zoom.

Above: Here is what the scene looked like as I stood looking for the bird without using my camera.

(Oh, and added to the challenge: I am a nearly blind photographer; I need to bob my head to line up my eyes with the progressive tri-focal prescriptions in my glasses while trying to figure out where the bird is on the camera view screen that is being held arms length away. My arm muscles and chest muscles hurt after about an hour of this kind of fun.)

Can YOU see the bird in the picture above?

Not so easy is it, huh?

(Hummer is at the center of the bottom of the picture. Click on the picture to enlarge it, then click on it again to see the bird.)

So the name of the game is to first spot the bird, (in this case, Bernie spotted it first) then switch the camera on, zoom it up, move the camera around until the bird fills the view screen, then try very hard to hold the camera steady (as I am usually standing on a rock or a slope or something tippy), then click I shoot at where I think the bird still is.
Then I check my pictures...and realize that I was just a little off in getting the perfect picture of the tiny bird with a fuchsia bib at full display; picture like the one above only in focus.
The bird sat on this twig for perhaps seven minutes.
I took power shots where the camera fired off ten shots in a second.
I took landscape and portrait mode shots.
And in the end...I got maybe six pictures that were in perfect focus.
The bird chittered a bit (hard to tell if it was laughing at me or trying to encourage me...) as it flew off.
We both know that humming bird season has barely started.
The flowers are just beginning to grow and the hummingbird feeder is not as tasty of a treat as the flowering trees in the area.
Eventually the feeder will become a much more popular hang out.
Eventually, over time, I think we will become friends.


myletterstoemily said...

i'm glad you explained how arduous
it was to obtain those lovely shots.

what tenacity, but what rewards!

Marg said...

I'm smiling at this...I got a new SLR for Mother's day...from my favorite man...and I practiced like you said, 40 shots for one photo for an up-coming book? You know what I'm talking about...but I could hear and identify with everything you said, and you only get one good Shot!! But it's fun...And half the time the buns were blurry...YIKES!!

Vicki said...

WOW! I love what your camera can do! I also love what's all around you! Great job, Jill!

ellen b. said...

Oh I love your little hummer! Great shot. It is so hard to capture those fast moving little birds!

Lovella ♥ said...

All of what you said sound very familiar. .. oh how many times have I waited for the hummer to sit still awhile. I thought you got some fantastic clear shots. It is so great that we can shoot to our hearts content not worrying about how many pictures are left on the film. I remember always trying to eek out one extra picture. . even if it did come back only half a shot.

Sara said...

Beautiful little bird! I think it's cute the way his tummy feathers hang down over the branch he's sitting on.

Your new camera takes great photos.