Monday, February 05, 2007

Unsatisfactory bird photography





I have found that bird photography is difficult even with a long lens. I had an Olympus C-740 with 10x optical zoom and bought a 1.7x tele-converter giving me a total of 17x optical zoom. Even with this very long lens an equivalent of more than a 600mm lens for a single lens reflex film camera I barely could get close enough before the birds were frightened away. This and the fact that only fairly common birds frequent the feeder makes it a less than rewarding effort. You either have to have the camera in hand and hope that an interesting bird shows up or actively stalk or wait very quietly for a long time. A blind would probably help but again only the most common birds come to the feeder. It's also difficult to store the camera with the long lens attached so if an interesting bird comes along it's usually gone by the time I've assembled the long lens to the camera or the rechargeable batteries have run down.

I will give the camera to my brother-in-law who lives in the Southwest. They have mobs of hummingbirds visiting their feeders. Apparently many different kinds of colorful hummers come to the feeder and they are fearless so he should have better luck than I have had.

These are photos of a female cardinal and house finches in one of my attempts to photograph birds. I believe the house finch in the last photo has a viral conjunctivitis disease of the eye as the eye appears crusty and half closed.

As posted yesterday after I saw the first robin of the season, I spotted several more later in the day so they're definitely back although I don't know why as we are in the coldest weather of the season forecasted to last for several days.

Blogger seems to be slow and reluctant to load for the past several days and now "Voices" hasn't come up in a couple of days although Gardenweb loads ok. Everything's getting crotchety with the winter blahs.

9 Comments:

Blogger OldRoses said...

I feel your pain about the bird photography. FYI, there is only one type of hummingbird here in the Northeast. West of the Mississippi, there are many more. I haven't had any luck attracting hummers. How about you?

GV is back up. Sort of. I'm not getting all the feeds yet.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi oldroses. We usually see 1 rubythroated hummer each year. :( Last year we saw none. (:( My brother-in-law said they have so many in NM that they have a hard time keeping the feeders filled with sugar water!

I emailed the Gardenweb folks this morning and I can bring up the website now.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Colin & Carol said...

Maybe you could rig up some kind of tempoary hide to get up close to the birds? If you keep feeding they will probably become a little less timid too.

Colin

11:40 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

I'm not glad to hear that you're having trouble even with the long lens, but it is a comfort... I've not been able to get good bird pictures at all. Nowhere near as good as the great "attempts" you posted here!

3:16 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Colin & Carol,
I thought of building some sort of blind or hide but thought better of it as only common birds visit the feeders. We've been feeding the birds for 5 years and they are still very skittish. Probably because we have a resident sharp shinned hawk who regularly buzz the feeders. We also have a red tailed hawk though it appears less frequently but frightens the birds nevertheless.

Kim,
You are too kind. With all the equipment you would think I could capture at least one good picture - the kind of photos you see in the birding magazines but no. I was trying to stay hidden by two bald cypress trees and other shrubs but the birds have a very keen sense of danger and spotted me lurking in the foliage. Unfortunately the aforementioned sharp shinned hawk keeps them in a state of hyper alert. Good luck in trying to take bird pictures. I don't have any suggestions or tricks to help you :(

5:13 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

You may not be completely thrilled with your photos, but they are so far beyond what I could do with a point-and-shoot digital that I don't even try. I just look at the birds from people in my links. NY Kerri has taken nice bird photos at Colors of the Garden, and NC Mary from Mary's View has managed to capture bluebirds.

I can imagine that having a resident hawk could result in a lot of jittery birds!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

8:24 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Annie,
Maybe I'm giving up too quickly but time to indulge in another hobby is at a premium especially when the gardening season arrives. I wonder how Mary took the photos of the bluebird. Pretty impressive and v. nice photos of other birds too from both Kerri and Mary. Thanks for alerting me to their blogs.

I have enough trouble trying to photograph so called stationary flowers that blow in the wind or insects crawling/flying away. I need subjects that/which will stay still :)

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

You might want to try what I did: a stick-on-the-window bird feeder. Then, I remove the screens, clean the window, and use my 12x zoom Panasonic Lumix camera. I still take a lot of bad shots in order to get a couple of good ones, though:)

6:50 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks for the tip Julia. We have a resident bad boy cat who despite being a klutz has managed to catch quite a few birds. He'd be waiting under the feeder so no birds would come, though it would be worth a try in the winter. I see juncos on the deck sometimes. Chickadees come up to the small trees around the deck every so often and once saw a carolina wren on the railing but most avoid the deck, kitchen window and patio doors so getting them to feed close enough may be a problem.
We bought a feeder pole to attach to the deck so maybe we'll attract a few birds. It's a good thing digital is cheap. The ratio of bad shots to good must be something in the order of 20 to 1 or worse. I would hate to spend that much on film.

9:43 AM  

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