Forum Role: Participant
Active Since: August 26, 2021
Topics Started: 0
Replies Created: 6

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Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Erika
    Participant
    When I first started out taking bird photos, I had no idea what I was doing. But I tinkered in the Photos app on my MacBook and found a process I liked, and I organized my photos on an external hard drive in a way that made sense to me. I’m pleased to find that my process wasn’t that far off the mark! Although there is definitely still room for improvement. I know I’m overcropping, and sometimes I feel like I rely too heavily on exposure adjustments after the fact, rather than getting it right in the field. My standards have also evolved over time in terms of what photos I find worthy of keeping or not (and I’m sure this will continue!). I spent some time practicing out by a lake where I was sure to find lots of birds. I was able to capture a sequence of photos of a Snowy Egret as it caught and ate a fish. When I uploaded the photos, I discovered that when the egret originally caught the fish, it had scooped up some algae in its bill along with it. The egret dropped the fish in shallow water in order to get rid of the algae, then picked the fish back up and gulped it down! DSC07938DSC07944DSC07959
  • Erika
    Participant
    Capturing good photos of birds in flight is just as challenging as promised! I’ve been feeling the limitations of my gear with this lesson in particular, but the practice is worthwhile. There was a realization for me that you just constantly have to be shooting, and you don’t really know if you got a good shot until after the fact. A couple of my shots below: 1) An Allen’s Hummingbird while feeding. Despite their speed, I’ve found hummingbirds are a good opportunity for BIF shots since they’re so often in flight and hover, as opposed to other birds that fly in bursts that can be harder to predict. 2) I’ve found a lake where there are almost always swallows flying over the water. These birds feel like the hardest level setting with the way they zip around over the surface of the water! My gear makes it almost impossible to get a bird standing out from a creamy out-of-focus background in these circumstances, and the overcast day made my shot extremely dark. But I’m happy to have captured this moment where the Barn Swallow’s wing touched the water.DSC00616DSC03982
  • Erika
    Participant
    When I noticed this Oak Titmouse, I was disappointed that it was totally backlit, and there wasn't really a way for me to get to the other side of him. So I took photos with the bird backlit, and was pleasantly surprised -- this unusual lighting actually emphasized the Titmouse's unique silhouette, with its lovely crest!DSC03388
  • Erika
    Participant
    I’ve been mostly shooting in Shutter Priority mode to quickly adjust for fast- or slow-moving birds, so switching to Manual is a bit of a struggle for me! I also tried a different metering mode than I had before, so that might account for some of my difficulty in adjusting. The aperture exercise really highlighted for me the value of having a shallow depth of field. Not only does it help keep the attention focused on the bird, but by allowing lots of light in, it avoids having to compensate for low light by having the ISO increased, resulting in a grainy photo! (Which is what I ended up with at higher F stops.) For the rule of thirds exercise, I practiced on an Anna’s hummingbird. For a side view of the hummingbird, following the rule of thirds created a nice composition to include both the bird and its environment. For a view from the back, I favored a centered composition that emphasized the symmetry of the bird’s position, as well as the single pink iridescent feather on the back of its head. Both exercises were illuminating and certainly made me feel like I needed a lot more practice!DSC03783DSC03779
  • Erika
    Participant
    I chose a sit spot by a lake at a park that I’ve been to a couple times now. I’ve captured photos from this spot before, but never stayed for 30 minutes. One of my favorite discoveries in previous trips was the Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Barn Swallows that swoop over the lake surface and occasionally take a dip in it. Both species were there this time, and the usual suspects were on or by the water: Common Yellowthroat, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe with chicks, Green Heron and Great Blue Heron.   But by staying in the same spot for 30 minutes, I was able to make a few additional observations. The two Green Herons I had seen on previous visits were frequently flying back and forth over the lake (which also provided more opportunities to capture a shot of them in flight), and to one spot in particular. Upon closer inspection I realized there were three juvenile green herons tucked away across the lake! Too far for my 350mm lens to capture good photos, but enough to ID them.   Additionally, after being there for some time, I noticed more activity in the bushes nearby me, and used the Merlin's Sound ID. I found that there was a juvenile Dark-Eyed Junco perched nearby. Then, even closer to me, I discovered a juvenile Orange-Crowned Warbler. While I was observing and photographing it, one of the parents landed next to it with food in its bill and fed it to its young! Unfortunately the angle wasn’t great for a photo, but it was still a wonderful moment to witness up-close, which I would have been much less likely to see had I not been stationary for so long.DSC02800DSC02856DSC02890
  • Erika
    Participant
    I researched two flycatchers that are fairly common in my area: Cassin's Kingbird and Black Phoebe. I've observed both species before, but my research brought some things to my attention that I was only passively aware of before. In particular, I read that Cassin's Kingbirds prefer to hunt from an elevated perch, while Black Phoebes perch within 7 feet of the ground. This lines up exactly with what I've seen, with Cassin's Kingbirds often perched on the highest wires or at the top of trees, while Black Phoebes hunt front the lower wires or branches, or even yard signs. This makes the Black Phoebe easier to photograph since it's more likely to be at eye level. Their flycatching hunting style also means there are good opportunities for action shots. It's clear when they're hunting as they visually search for their prey -- then sally out to catch it in flight!3CFCE04C-4242-4DB7-BBC6-35D236AC3264_1_105_c046D2B26-00F5-4F0D-A72C-09DCC4728495_1_105_c0991CCB1-50FE-443E-B100-6A8E72FAD817_1_105_c
Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)