My wife and I were in Vail, Colorado, in August 2020 escaping the Texas heat for a couple of weeks. We were walking along the main street of Vail village among a blaze of colorful flowers. All of a sudden, my wife spotted a beautiful hummingbird near one of the flowers.
I had my Canon 6D set on aperture priority for taking street scenes. I immediately switched it to shutter priority and set the speed to 1/800th. I wanted to freeze the body of the bird but still have some blur on the wings to show motion. I was already in burst mode and Auto ISO. I zoomed in to 105mm, and I was able to shoot 30 images in about four seconds. The bird then flew away after 30 seconds!
The first time I saw this hawk, it was on my porch lunching on a gecko. I tried to save the gecko but the bird flew away with its meal.
I saw this bird a few times since, but it’s been too far away. I solved the distance problem by getting a Sigma 710mm, but I never expected to get such a close-up.
I was bird-watching from our back window and to my amazement, it came out of nowhere and landed on a tree close to our home. I hastily grabbed my camera and quietly opened the back door. I took this picture just as the hawk became aware of my presence. It flew away moments later.
While checking out some flamingos one afternoon I found them all napping. I had started out for that typical “portrait” shot, you know the one, but the birds just were NOT going to cooperate. However, I found that by merely walking a few paces to my left I could get an entirely new (to me) perspective on these birds that I was even more captivated with.
Over the years I have found that many times when we are all set and focused on a particular image (or outcome dealing with “whatever”), we often find ourselves not getting what we wanted, expected, or sought. In those situations when I have decided that I will just make the best of it, I often find that the outcome is better than what I was originally going after.
On the last Saturday in May, I had the opportunity to take photos at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center Photo Day. The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental preservation through public education and the conservation of birds of prey and wildlife in their natural habitat. Blackland Prairie Raptor Center’s birds of prey have many years of experience introducing children and adults to the world of raptors. These hawks, owls and falcons are well trained, and with the assistance of BPRC education specialists, show people what makes them an important part of our environment. Unfortunately, these birds cannot go back into the wild due to previous injury, human imprinting or both. You can see more about the center at http://www.bpraptorcenter.org/.
The Photo Day was held at Brockdale Park in Lucas Texas where the center is currently building a new facility. The park is northeast of Dallas on Lake Lavon. Other than a few chiggers and other biting insects that were in the park that day, it was an enjoyable experience. The center had most of its birds available to show at the event and we (the group of photographers at the event) learned many things about each bird as they were brought out for photographs. I want to thank the center staff and volunteers that gave up their morning and helped out during the event.
The center showed its birds in three areas of the park so that photographers could take images of different birds in different locations with different backgrounds. The birds were beautiful and majestic, regardless of their size. We were able to get relatively close to the birds in order to get portrait type photos and also were able to take photos of them in more natural habitat. It was a challenge to get the eyes sharp and the details in the feathers along with a pleasant background. Unfortunately, it was a gray sky morning, so the images of the birds when held aloft had an uninteresting background. But I tried to make the best of it by adding some texture, including feathers of the birds themselves to make the background a little more interesting.