Sunday, June 26, 2011

Re-discovered Images

Fairy Tern on branch, Midway Atoll
I am making a concerted effort to stay home for a while this month; after two straight months on the road, I need to get caught up on editing, writing, yardwork, and...oh yeah, a social life.

One of the pleasures of having time like this is taking the occasional troll through the old slide files and finding images that I had either forgotten about or overlooked. (I edited my entire 200,000+ analog collection two years on a similar self-imposed home-exile, and discarded 90% of the slides. They were just taking up space, and, to be candid, only 10% stood out as worth saving.)

So it was that, preparing a client submission this week, I stumbled onto this image of a Fairy Tern, taken on Fuji film over a decade ago. I remember loving the curve of the branch, and the elegance of the tern's spreading wings.  Simple, but handsome. Guess I'll have to scan it!

Meanwhile, although I am not doing any major traveling until the late summer, I do have some shooting I'd like to do locally, including heading out for a few days this week to shoot on the Olympic Peninsula. I love this time of year in the temperate rainforest, and there are some minus-tides scheduled on the coast.

I know, I know... I'm supposed to be pulling out ivy, but there are limits to this exile thing.

Nikon F100, 70-200mm lens

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

With Hummingbirds

Male Allen's Hummingbird. Channel Islands
OK, I'll admit it: I've been a rotten correspondent lately, and haven't posted to this blog in weeks. I could blame my travel schedule, but it really has more to do with the fact that I haven't been terribly successful on several recent shoots. Most recently I spent a week on California's Channel Islands where I hoped to get more coverage of the endangered Island Fox.  I suppose the fact that I'm showing you a hummingbird rather than a stunning fox portrait can tell you something!  In six days I saw foxes for all of about 3 minutes, and never in a setting that worked very well.

Happily, there were other diversions, and other subjects, including these tiny Allen's Hummingbirds, which, to my delight, bathed every day in a tiny stream right next to my fox stakeout. I could while away the hours of waiting for foxes by shooting these little gems coming and going from the water. I have never spent such so much time observing hummers, and it was wonderful, especially seeing them immerse themselves in the water, bathe and drink - all in water less than an inch deep.

Photographically, the challenge was focusing on the birds, which are small and in constant motion - and getting an exposure that worked since the best light was in full shade. Fortunately I had time to try different settings, experimenting with pre-focusing - and time to simply get lucky. Luck is an inevitable part of every  successful wildlife photograph; whenever you are dealing with a live, unpredictable subject, whatever pictures you get have as much to do with luck as with skill. In this image, for example, I was focused on the bird in the water - when he popped up to hover and scan the area, he did so in the same focus plane, and stayed in sharp focus. Pure luck, and an abundance of time.

Nikon D300, 200-400mm lens with TC14x