The plentiful song birds migrating through Chattanooga right now have not only evaded my lens, but also my vision. I haven’t even been able to figure out what they are. Usually when I can’t see a bird well and I run into it for several days in a row, after I obsess about trying to identify it for a while, it will perch in front of me and I will discover it’s something as exciting as a house sparrow.
Because I find the difficulty of shooting such small birds amusing, I’ve decided to share some photos today that I would mostly not choose to share under ordinary circumstances. As any wannabe photographer will tell you, most actual photographers advise never to put your crap photos on the web; only show you’re best. But what’s more amusing than headless birds cut partly out of the frame completely out of focus and under exposed?
I guess what’s funny to me about them is not the actual image I ended up with so much as the story behind it. If you can visualize me crouching patiently with my camera, firing as rapidly as I can while I try to keep a tiny songbird in my frame and walk towards it in the hope of ending up with something bigger than a tiny dark spot that is indistinguishable from a leaf. Inevitably, this ends in the bird flying away and me tripping over something.
Or, there’s the blurry shot of Cayse coming right at me in a flare. I’m sitting there trying to refocus on her as she perfectly spreads her wings and even fits in my frame. But, no. She’s closer than my lens’ minimum focusing distance. Or, the fact that her solid black feathers present no contrast for my camera’s focusing system to work with prevents reaching focus before she’s flying over my head.
I would love to have a video of me trying to follow a hummingbird with my lens and get a shot of it in flight. I’m amazed I got even the shot in the gallery, but I must have looked insane bobbing and weaving with my camera trying to follow the flight pattern of the hummer.
Whenever I am in Florida, I am relieved by the large, cooperative birds who will gladly stand around and pose for hours at a time. Northern waterbirds are far less cooperative. This is apparently true in Europe too–we were at the Bodensee on the southern border of Germany when I attempted to shot a group of swans. Much like a fly that will shoot out from under your hand when you try to slap it, these swans would tip upside down as soon as I pushed the shutter button.
I suppose much like the rare bird seems more beautiful than the common one, the rare decent shot seems more beautiful because it’s rare. In the meantime, I keep watching eBay for a great deal on a used 600mm lens.