As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.
Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.
What’s yours? The limit of enlarging an image is multi-factorial. The quality of the source image counts. This is dependent upon camera, lens, and focus. There’s more but it would be boring to get too much more technical. Meanwhile, the red wing blackbird in flight was fortuitous. I could have done better. But the moment came and went. I did not have the right equipment. But you can see the color of the bird in flight. To me, it looks orange in my picture. But in other views, we saw the characteristic red color. At the end of the day, the image ain’t perfect. But otherwise, we’d have nothing to talk about. I got the dang bird in flight!
Would you believe this? It’s not as good as the last one I got. It’s unexpected (again). Twice? Bird in flight! Neat! Yes, this is not the first time you have seen a bird in flight. There are many more pics of birds in flight and many better than mine. But this is my shot. It’s rare; it ain’t easy to get; and I was lucky enough to do it twice. Well, I can recall others I have shot. But this is still hard to do, and rare. I could say it was all intentional and the shutter speed was set to get the wings in a blur…. but, no, it was just luck. Struck by lightning – twice!
How lucky can you be? Sometimes, I think I close my eyes, press the shutter, and hope for the best. It works sometimes. Hey hey! Even a blind squirrel gets a nut – sometimes. Our squirrel is back, but, that’s another story. And what do you know?! I got the cardinal in flight – and in focus! That is terrific in my book! I’m tickled even if you have seen birds in flight before. It ain’t easy! And, to be honest, I was pressing the shutter as he took flight. Pure luck!
Pine siskin, pine warbler, and house finch are in the neighborhood. Hey! It’s neat to see birds we don’t see every day. In fact, I did not know they were natives around here. Ha ha. They have been here longer than I have. Colleen looked them up in our trusty bird guide. We matched the pictures to the names. That’s our story and we are stickin’ with it. Nutley, though he would like, does not get to romp with the birds.
I have nothing against squirrels. They gotta eat too. I was tired of the fact that the squirrels were a bit piggish about hogging all the bird food. Colleen was brilliant. Move the feeders. Duh! They are on the front balcony. They squirrels can’t climb there. Bird TV returns!
How many outstanding pictures do I have? How many stories are there? At one picture a day…. one story at a time? I’ve been at it for nearly 10 years. It must be quite a collection spanning a decade of change. People come and go. Changes large and small occur. Relationships change. 2011, I was in NY working in NJ. I had rediscovered a long lost cousin, Amy. John had fallen ill. I had been in touch with Colleen to lose her again until 2014. I had never traveled to the Middle East. Scuba diving was on my bucket list. One great shot – there are so many, or, so few – or would it be an essay story of illustrations? Hey! I never work with a plan. I’m just trying to get from here to there. Where? Dunno!? I’m more of, make lemonade if you get lemons, kind of guy. Story or the image. Image or the story. It’s all good right now, in this place.
There is dynamic interaction between my cats, the birds, and a family of squirrels. I feed the birds. Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too! So they do – the squirrels are all over the bird feeders. Everyone eats. I favor the birds. The cats enjoy the show. They are participating too. Nutley will go out on command and vainly chase after the squirrels. He returns when I call him back. Me? I photograph. I have to say that the darn Sony RR100 VI has a lens that is as good a telephoto as I would want in such a compact camera. Voila! Instant story!
This next few days are about 5 star pics. They are in my catalog going back years. How did we get to 5 star? My picking method varies enough that there are plenty of worthy pics that aren’t labeled 5 but should be. Here are some that have 5 stars and to me are memorable. I start with a fish and a bird. It’s rare and for me, nearly never, that I was there at the exact moment to see the catch. Not so good for the fish, I suppose. But I was glad to have gotten the shot.
…right time. Margie came over for a visit. Her pedigree was uncertain so we ‘masked.’ It was blazing hot and 100% humidity. We sat on the deck and sweltered in place. It was horrible. Colleen hates being hot and sweaty. Funny! She didn’t crack a bead of sweat. So, there we were. I was hot melting in place and the ruby throated hummingbird made an appearance. A few shots, wrong camera, no time, I got what I could. Not bad, eh? Eh?!!!
Hummingbird. In flight. Ho hum…. It’s a BIG freakin’ deal!! If you are the consumer, pics like these are a dime a dozen. Someone has come before and patients sat and waited and waited. Amazing! They got a shot and it’s commonplace enough that … yawn. It’s not an easy shot. No way! I got one. The circumstances were just perfect. It won’t happen again for me. That’s what makes this so special.
The Sony RX 100 M6 has replaced my big Nikon 80-400 zoom lens. Why? ‘cause it’s on hand and available. I have to go find my big DSLR. Ok, enough with the tech stuff. I have to admit the zoom can pull in faraway objects clearly better than an iPhone can do. Simple. Need a telephoto shot? I can get it with the spiffy point and shoot camera nearby at hand. Meanwhile, the blue heron had landed nearby. Not too close nearby, so it was accommodating and waited while I got the camera and got my shots. I feel so fortunate to be able to get the shot and that I had a camera capable to do it. Sometimes that iPhone just doesn’t have the reach you need.
Sad! We had a sparrow nesting outside our window. The cats saw it. We kept the shade drawn after that. And one day… the nest was empty. Crows are in the neighborhood. I have seen them chased aggressively by red winged blackbirds. Evidently, they found mother sparrow and took her four eggs. Not even a shell was left. I don’t suppose mom will start over again. I am indeed sad. We were all anticipating the arrival of the new babies. Nope. We’re all sad around here.
Three sides of my house each has a bird nest: barn swallows out front under the balcony eve, right side in the tree outside the living room window, and left side robin’s nest. They all have a lining at the lip of the nest. Soft? The barn swallows poop over the side and leave a mess in the garage door entrance. (You probably don’t want to know that.) The robins? Colleen saw a little one hopping around. Fell out of the nest? We don’t know and didn’t find out. But I got a good pic of the nest. It looks like it was just finished. You could smell fresh paint. And, that’s when I noticed the liner common to all three nests. Hmmmm. you learn something new each day. No nest to the back. Yet. Some bird has trashed my flower container looking for something to eat. Damn. I haven’t seen nor caught the guilty party. Otherwise there doesn’t seem to be any place inviting to make a nest.
We now have a sparrow(?) nesting in the tree outside our window. Ray (the cat) found it. He was clawing at the glass. Thanks Ray. Another photo op. Ray is now in “timeout.” He doesn’t get that annoying the new mom is not allowed. Four eggs! How’d she do it? Those are large eggs for a little bird. Neat trick. Clap hands, we need some cheer (and hope) around here.
I am limited by technology and laziness. We have a birdfeeder. It has not been particularly productive to see many interesting birds this year. Mostly it has been LBJ’s. It’s term Colleen uses. Her mother used it before her and it does not mean LBJ, the president. It’s “little brown jobs.” I did not bother (lazy) to remove the window screen this year. Then, a cardinal – male and female – and a woodpecker showed up. My bad, there is definite image degradation due to the window screen. And I was further limited by the camera at hand. The lens was simply not strong enough to pull in the bird. The little image in the corner was due to the limited (Canon) lens. Even at 150mm the bird was tiny in the image. The electronic (Sony) telephoto did a much nicer job. Both camera’s images were degraded by the (window) screen. But, as always there is something to see. Any camera is better than none. Otherwise, this would not be an illustrated post.
Maybe you wonder how I choose/edit my photos. At this point it’s a gestalt. You see it. It triggers an emotional response. Done. I’ve done plenty of bird feeder shots and not so many birds in the trees. Once again, I might add that despite the bright red color, cardinals are not that easy to spot when they are sitting among the branches. Honest. You have to zoom in and isolate your subject or the viewer might miss him. Him, yes, the bright red ones are the males. It was a slow day to find subjects to shoot.
Pardon me? These wild guys were wandering through the backyard and probably are not adorning anyone’s table today. By chance the other photo – I have been called a “turkey” – slipped into the post serendipitously. It’s appropriate too. To all the scattered family this year, I wish you all a “Happy.”
I don’t see them often. Photographing them is not easy – for me. I am thankful for a chance and an opportunity. It’s a work in progress – like so many other things for me. The situation was clearly not ideal. I shot in poor light through a screen and window. The shutter speed was to slow to freeze the wing motion. There’s plenty to criticize. But, then, I got one more pic of a hummingbird. Otherwise, there would be no discussion of technique.
We passed him going up the road. I thought he was an eagle and turned around to try for a shot. I always have a camera somewhere close. Meanwhile Colleen did not estimate the spot well. She thought he’d flown. But no! I came upon him in the same tree. He was eating a meal. (Don’t ask what the dead thing is.) I got a mug shot – right, left, and frontal. Nice detail. It was kind of like a school photo. Action or some unique behavior would have been appreciated. I was happy to catch a good shot. I thought he was an eagle. But an osprey is good too. They don’t exactly sit by the road and pose. At least I did not get funny expressions as he chewed.
Canadian. They make quite a showing as they migrate. Thousands. It’s a big flock. I was fascinated by the landing pattern. It was choreographed like an airport. They circled and came into the wind to land. Of course, there was no spacing. You fly in both directions simultaneously. No crashes. No harm no fowl.
We have a lot of discussion about the world. Do you recycle? Do you know that much of it goes to China? It’s not turned into renewable things. It’s just trash in China. How about chicken? Here’s how they transport them. Don’t tell me about the awful conditions they are treated in Delaware. Organic eggs cost nearly $5 a dozen as opposed to $2.09. You decide. By looking at an egg I can tell that you did not lie and that that egg came from a happy chicken? It’s tortuous thinking. As I said, we debate a good many things. $5 or $2, it’s a dilemma.
Why’d the chicken go to the post office? Ha ha again. Not too much time between turkeys and chickens. Funny. We were rural – traveling back roads. Why not? I see chickens all the time. But in the parking lot of the post office?…. It (the chicken) was certainly used to people. It never flinched or scurried as I shot my pics. What does a chicken find to eat in a parking lot? Leftover “fries.?”
Why’d the turkey cross the road? Ha! There be wild turkeys! Both sides of the road. I saw them coming over the hill in the car. Ha again! I was the one in the car…I slowed well before we got there. Then I let the car slowly roll down toward them. No good. They were skittish and nervous and started to run/hide. I got a few shots to document that I had actually seen them. Hey! There were turkeys. See?!
For the purists: Green tint – car glass/windshield. And focus – you can’t always get what you want through car glass. … too lazy to correct in digital processing.