Sunday, January 13, 2008

Freeze Frame!

"This freeze frame moment can't be wrong" goes the song. Right. As anyone who's tried to capture something that moves on film (or other media), it's hard to get a decent finished product. Couple that with being on the low end of the photography learning curve, then throw in a subject that does nothing but try not to be seen and you've got a recipe for clogging up your hard drive with pretty shoddy pictures. A lot of shoddy pictures.

At one point I decided to quit frustrating myself with little, skulky, dickey birds that hang out in the low light of a forest and go for big, well-lit, sedentary birds. That turns out to be just as frustrating, as my recent collection of hawk photos demonstrates.

A Red-tailed Hawk doing what it does best: perching
above an open field, but defying a decent photograph.

Driving around with the camera set to go is a great idea. If I see something perched alongside the road, like a raptor, I'm ready to pull over and "shoot" the bird. I figure my pulling over on a busy road is no more annoying than people pulled over talking on their phones (credit where it's due: at least they pulled over!).

This Red-tail was perched relatively close to a
cloverleaf interchange, I could see it from the highway
. . . but as soon as I aim, vamanos!

That happens way more than I expected. I mean, members of the genus Buteo are notorious sit-and-wait predators. They just sit and wait, you can look at them all day long. Except when you've got a lens that starts to move. Then, they're off!

Not moments before this bird was perched on
a road-side tree limb. At least I captured
one identifiable field mark!

Every so often on cooperates and sits still while you're re-setting your camera, which conveniently lost all of the default settings you programmed. OK, shutter-speed priority, check! ISO 80, check! Continuous shooting, check! Spot-meter . .. is the bird still there? Good! Spot-metering, check! Now, where can I go where those branches aren't in the way??

Well, clearly a Red-tail, and almost a nice shot.
Why do trees have so many tiny branches?

Solution: find a tree without any branches! Fence posts and telephone poles, it turns out, aren't necessarily an eyesore, as long as a eye-catching bird is perched on top.

Ahh, a close, non-flitty individual that's not obstructed
by branches. Now I remember why I keep trying!

Yes, sometimes it does work out. I can't wait to move on to the next group . . . maybe ducks!


scienceguy288 said...

It was bloody cold in Buffalo today! -5! I decided to go on a hike anyways as the sky was pristine and the sun was shining. It turned out to be a wonderful, but bone chilling experience.

noflickster said...

A great birdy day to birdwatch from inside; I have to hand it to you for getting out in this arctic blast!

We did make it above 0*F here in the southern tier, but I didn't venture outside other than to fill the feeders. We had some seasonal high counts for a lot of birds - dozens of House Finches and juncos, several White-throated and American Tree Sparrows (typically they're not at our feeder at all); chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches were constant all day. Only one redpoll, though, and no accipters tried for any birds!

Thanks for dropping by, hope you continue to have wonderful outdoor experiences that aren't quite so frigid.
- Mike

Greg said...

As a very amateurish photographer, I can certainly relate! One thing about it, when it all falls together and you get a decent photo, it makes the struggling worth it and certainly enriches the blog entry!

noflickster said...

Greg - you certainly said something there! It's definitely worth the dozens (hundreds?) of "bad" shots to get that one that's decent.

I'm hoping to improve my ratio of good:bad shots (maybe I'll break down and read the camera's manual one of these days).

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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