The shot above was one of the first few I took with my then brand new D100.
I credit the D100 with me rediscovering photography, and discovering there was a new way to take pictures. Namely, snap away at whatever you want, go to your PC, and check out what you got.
“Wow!” I thought, “this is going to be easy!”
I mean, look at the picture. Not award-winning, but degrees better than anything I was ever able to accomplish with film. And that’s the key. I would never even have taken that shot with my film camera. Don’t get me wrong, I liked taking pictures, but what I got back from the lab was usually much less impressive than what I remembered . . . and, of course, it was a couple of days, if not a week, later.
Not so with digital . . . I walk out to the garden, snap away, come back in, and be amazed at seeing a picture like that, where I can find details that had escaped me when I looked at it live.
Alas, I’ve tried to recreate that shot, but with no success. Sure, I got some bees on flowers, but I was lucky with that one. And that’s the lesson, girls and boys; sometimes you are just lucky, and everything clicks. It’s not an indication of things to be, of your inherent talent, knowledge, of technical ability.
I started this post because the earlier D7000 review implied that perhaps my photography will improve solely on the merits of the new camera. That got me thinking . . . I’ve certainly improved over the years, but through the years I’ve had a number of photos I’ve been proud of. In fact, many hold a special place in my memory banks. This then is the first of a few post I will do in memory of times gone by, of photos that both stirred my interest in continuing to shoot photographs, and at the same time made it appear as if I knew what I was doing.
Enough waxing nostalgic . . . the shot above is from the back yard of our house in Michigan. Because we fed birds, squirrels were frequent visitors, and on this particular day I was shooting the new camera when this guy started barking at me. I walked right up to the tree, and from just a few feet below him took a couple of shots (these days I would have taken 10-20, but back then I still had the film mentality – one or two shots).
I thought nothing of it, but when I looked at the picture, I was amazed at the clarity and detail of the photo. I was not used o getting these kinds of results with film.
In 2002 I read about the hummingbird migration because of what was to me an amazing experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We were visiting friends, and a hummingbird had become trapped inside their enclosed porch. It was obviously getting tired, and I held out my finger as a perch. To my amazement, it landed on it, and sat there as I walked outside with it. It rested an additional 10-20 seconds, and then it flew off.
The UP is about 6 hours of D’Alise driving North of where I lived (a little longer measured by regular driving). . . I wondered how hummingbirds came to be there. It turns out they migrate across the Gulf of Mexico every year ( here is the map of their migration based on when they are sighted at different locations). In 2003 I started setting out feeders, and I’ve had hummingbirds in my back yard ever since (even more here in Colorado than I’ve ever had in Michigan).
The above shot was one of my first pictures of a hummer visiting my feeders. I managed to capture the wing sweep. Again, not tried to do so, it just worked out that way.
The above shot was taken with my “slow” lens, the Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. I was sitting on my porch, marveling at the zoom factor of the lens, when I saw this guy flying about. I raised the camera and lens, leaned over to aim under the Umbrella tree in our back yard, and snapped off a few shots. It would be nearly 8 years before I was able to once again snap a picture of a hummer feeding on the wing.
In the 13 years we lived in our house in Franklin we had slowly added a number of flower beds all around the yard. So, part of what I often shot were flowers. That will deserve it’s own subsequent posts. I say posts, because I have what in technical terms is known as a “crap-load” of flowers photographs. One will have to do here, but more is coming.
The other frequent targets of my photographs were the multitude of birds that visited our back yard.
We usually had a number of feeders out, and the coming and going assured me a constant show year-round. I used to keep our big picture window spotless, as I often had to shoot through the window, as I did in this instance.
Despite my constant presence, the food I put out, the suet, and the total lack of me ever doing anything to annoy, threaten, or scare the birds, they were, and remained skittish about having me walk out . It mattered not if I had a camera or not.
A few years before we sold the house we started to get Red Squirrels in our back yard. These guys are smaller, more active, and with more striking colors than the regular Fox Squirrels. This one was feeding on the seeds on the ground, and ran up the umbrella tree when I walked out. One of my favorite pictures.
Our house was surrounded by tall trees, and the yard was backed by dense trees (cottonwoods). The favorite way for the Fox Squirrels to travel was on the main power wire that came from the pole at the back of the property, and onto the roof of the house. The deck was right under this aerial highway, and it often offered opportunities for pictures.
We also had flowering trees, and this one produced berries that served as early season feasts for the young generation of critters that lived off our property.
Most of the critters around our house were well fed, and sometimes they got quite territorial about what they considered their feeding grounds. Usually a well placed stream of water from the hose would re-establish the proper relationship a freeloader should have toward them who feed them.
Seriously, I was not being mean. These are wild animals, and I did not want them to get friendly with humans because not everyone is as loving, caring, and great human being as I.
Familiarity with human-kind is usually not a good thing as far as animals are concerned.
I did not have to worry about the Red Squirrels much. They are very skittish, kept their distance, and seemed well aware of the danger of trusting humans. Plus they are very cute.
I have a special affinity for the Common House Sparrow. The only birds I like more are Hummingbirds and Swallows. It might be because they are common, small, not endowed with flashy traits. They work, mind their own business, don’t expect praise or adulation, and mainly try to survive . . . I can relate to that.
The following shot has to be set up. I had bought a small birdbath that I set on an old stump nearly at ground level. It was supposed to be a watering hole for the chipmunks, squirrels, and other critter that passed by. One morning I look out, and a group of what looked to be young sparrows had decided to turn the thing into their own private Jacuzzi. There were maybe 1.5 inches of water in that thing, but those guys went to town on it . . .
And that brings me to one of my all-time favorite photos. Yes, it’s a Sparrow.
The caption is how the photo is labeled in my hard drive. It’s how I find it when I need to look at it again. Some might not agree, but the setting, the detail of the feathers, the look in the bird’s eye, all add up to an image that is very easy on my eyes, and is easy for me to recall for my mind’s eye to enjoy.
As usual, clicking on any of the pictures will take you to the album associated with this post. Edited to Add: WordPress once again lost all the links. The SmugMug gallery for these photos is HERE.