Friday, March 03, 2006

Photography 101 - Mockingbird exercise

Newcomers to my blog should know that it was originally called "Digital Photography 101" and was meant merely as a practice space as I learned to take photographs. I hesitated to make it public until a workshop instructor pointed out that I would never learn if I didn't risk opening it up for others to comment. Learning photography remains its tenor still, but it has taken on so much more as the blogging community widens my world, taking me to places I could never experience otherwise, developing my appreciation for good photography, and stimulating my reading and thinking. And the very act of taking photographs is leading me into an awareness of my immediate environment that I've never had before.

Northern Mockingbirds commonly frequent our neighbourhood. They enjoy pyracantha and prickly pear, both of which are prevalent where we live. I love to hear them sing. They can imitate the songs of other birds and even amphibians and insects, and older ones may have a repertoire of as many as 200 songs. They are aggressively defensive of their territory. When we had cats, the mockingbirds would take an irreverent pleasure in dive-bombing them, even just outside our front door. Our noble Peter, normally a proud and fearless grey tabby, would cringe and mew pitifully when a mockingbird attacked.

I was outside yesterday practicing with different shutter speeds with the 100 mm. lens when I spotted this mockingbird on our roof. It was a bit far away, but 8 megapixels and heavy cropping helped get some fairly satisfactory shots. I took some still shots and then upped the shutter speed and waited for it to fly. (Click on the photo for enlargement.)


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Oh Pam, that's just beautiful. I love the wings in the second photograph. What a fantastic shot.

Pam in Tucson said...

RD-Thank you! I was pretty excited when I cropped it and saw it on the computer screen. I've never thought of our mockingbirds as being anything special - they've always just been around. My own eyes can't resolve that kind of detail to see such beauty, especially in motion.

T. Beth said...

Nice photos! I especially like photos of birds in flight, but these are the most difficult to capture.

My neighbor has an apple feeder for the mockingbirds (a metal hoop with a spike to impale apples), and I have been thinking of getting one too. Mockingbirds are such characters, and I enjoy watching them.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I love bird pictures. AND, they are so hard to get... because those pesky birds won't stand still. Great.

Cindy said...

avian photography is really not that difficult once you learn their habits and learn patience- you're doing both and this flight shot is a winner- congrats!!

Endment said...

It is great to see a clear photo of a bird in flight.

Glad to find some encouragement from your Photography 101

There are sure a lot of things to learn

Enjoyed your site!

Pam in Tucson said...

Thank you all for visiting my blog and for the kind comments.

t.beth - The apple feeder sounds like a great idea. I'll have to get one.

Cynthia - You're so right. I've been trying to photograph a Gila woodpecker who regularly flies up to my study window, but even though I have the camera waiting, by the time I grab it he's gone. Then I hear him battering away round the corner, making holes in my eaves.

Cindy - Wow! Thanks so much for that comment. Coming from an NPN forum moderator and the greatest nature art photographer I know, I really appreciate the encouragement.

endment - Thank you for visiting. I hope you're feeling much better. As a neophyte, I struggle with the ins and outs of the camera technology, but get much excellent and generous technical help from t.beth, cindy and other photogrpaher friends.

thor said...

wow pam,

you really captured the beauty of flight with that second photo. i am so impressed with your talent and skill. will this one become a card?


Ontario Wanderer said...

I have been working, off and on, for years to get good photos of birds. You have surpassed me already. Great Mockingbird shot! And the shot of bird in flight is really wonderful. Thanks for sharing!!!

Pam in Tucson said...

Hi Thor and O.W. - Thanks for coming by. Words like yours are so encouraging. I hope the flying shot wasn't a unique fluke. I'll keep working at it.

O.W. - I read your blog religiously. Your environment is idyllic and your photos are wonderful.

Thor - Don't know if this one is card material - I'll print one up and send it to you for you to judge.