Thursday, May 14, 2015

Camera Play

While pacing the floors patiently waiting for my new SX50 to arrive, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about improving my photography skills and have been putting lots of "shutter clicks" on my existing point and shoot trying to hone my beginner skills.

Hopefully, I've gotten to the point where the graininess/blur is MOSTLY the fault of the inadequate zoom capability and not my cluelessness (camera manual?  what's that?  and more importantly...where is it since I never read it when I first got the camera years ago and promptly lost it).

I'd welcome some feedback if anyone sees anything that IS the result of using the wrong setting for the job (most everything was taken using Aperture Priority, f5.5 which is all my camera will allow when at full 16x zoom, ISO 80), hand shake (I'm planning to get a monopod once the camera arrives - got some tips from a fellow birder at the San Joaquin monthly bird walk this last weekend on the one she was using). 

This is not just about the cameras, though.  There's been fascinating bird activity at a couple of places I never expected:  outside my office on my lunch hour and at my son's school during afternoon pick-up time).  I had to try to record it - even with blur!

Even though my office is in a fully built-up industrial area and right next to a freeway, there are an amazing number of birds around.  This area used to be a vineyard and there are still a few (and I mean a very few - like 5) rows of vines that remain as sort of a decorative area.  I discovered that this Cassin's Kingbird likes to hang out on the fencepost at the end of one of the rows and is usually so fixated on catching bugs that he will let me get quite close to take photos so I don't have to use my piddly zoom too much.  However, on this day, he was very flitty and wouldn't sit still.  I finally realized why...look in the upper right corner of the photo...

Raptor of some sort circling over head.  This little kingbird was fully aware of it WAY before the stoopid human with the camera!

Right after this shot, the raptor got inside the kingbird's safe zone and he took off for good.  Didn't see him for the rest of my lunch hour
The raptor didn't give up, though, and kept circling. 

I'm thinking that 50x zoom on the new camera woulda come in handy right here!  Darn it!

Any guesses on species?  I'm guessing Red-Tailed Hawk.  I've seen a Cooper's Hawk in the area before, but it had noticeable bands on the underside of its tail and was smaller than this.
At the end of the day, it was time to pick up Ryan from the YMCA after-school program he attends on campus.  He likes to hang out with his friends until the very end so I knew he wouldn't mind if I dawdled on my way in and stopped to take a few shots.  Found this Bushtit in a tree next to one of the classrooms.  I have to say - they have rapidly become one of my favorite birds to see.  Not colorful, but so darned cute!

However, he has had enough of the Crazy Camera Lady and is OUT OF HERE!
And Ryan and were walking to the car...we looked up and...a whole tree full of Cedar Waxwings!!!  I have lived in this general area about 45 years and have NEVER seen this bird around here.  I know the bird guide books say we have them, but I had thought they'd be found more in the mountain areas (forest areas with berries, etc.).  Who would have guessed they like hanging out at the local elementary school??? 

Okay, seriously, why isn't my new camera here yet???!!! 

These birds are beautiful anyway...even when out of focus LOL!

This was probably the best shot I got...never could get close enough to get off that 16x zoom.  Too many branches in the way and lots of people coming and going while picking up their kids.  

I think this House Finch realized it was in the wrong tree. 

It couldn't escape Crazy Camera Lady, though, LOL!  I like that this is a closer shot, but I think it's overexposed? 

No, not birds, but I did want to show that I can take a photo that's not grainy/blurry as long as I don't have to zoom.  These are the leftovers of a raised garden that some of the younger kids has been a favorite hangout for a pair of Lesser Goldfinches for the past week or so.  Only saw the male high up in a tree on this day and all my photos of him were totally unusable. 

Another part of the garden - I wish that ugly pole wasn't in the background, but these pink flowers were so colorful that I couldn't resist them.
I know the background is kind of dark, but I actually like it that way in this shot...makes it look like the sun is only shining on the daisies.
Again, any constructive feedback is heartily welcome - I'd love to eliminate any obvious things I'm doing wrong before the new camera gets here so I can take full advantage of what it has to offer.

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