If a Bird Gives a Photographer a Cookie…

…he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.

Active people love to invoke a law of physics as a metaphor; that an object in motion tends to remain in motion. It sure seems to be true for me. If I start the day with some robust activity – sweeping the roof, cleaning the rain gutters, raking the yard, pruning trees, etc.,  I generally end up knocking down several days worth of to-do list items by mid-afternoon. Such was the case today, and by late afternoon I decided to treat myself to a small cigar.

To avoid the likelihood that my Macanudo Ascot’s fragrant  emanations would incite envy among other family members, I snuck – um, I mean “retired” –  to the “way-back,” which is what we call the area out by the chicken coop and raised garden beds. This is the area where I stalk hummingbirds with my camera. Usually, I wait in frustration as the hummingbirds dance around the tops of the eucalyptus trees, far out of range of my 70-200mm zoom lens.

Today, however, one little hummingbird appears to have fallen in love with either my cigar or my hat (Stetson Open Road). Either would make sense. The diminutive aerialist darted around my head repeatedly, alighted in the bare plum tree a few feet from me, and said, quite clearly, “Well, are you gonna take my picture or what?”  It was a tough call, since I felt like I’d done enough already, but I extinguished the cigar, lumbered back into the house and put together my camera.

My first shot of the day would have made me very happy on most days.

My second shot of the day, as the bird flew right at me. I couldn't hold focus on the bird's head. I spent the next couple of hours photographing this bird sitting on branches, and trying to photograph it as it hovered all around me, apparently out of spite or some kind of twisted, dark humor. I ended up with many pictures of where the bird had been just before I snapped the shutter. If I hadn't almost gotten this shot, I would have been quite satisfied with the first picture.

I had a lot of fun and got a lot of practice, but I’m eager to hear from other photographers. How on earth do you hold focus on a fast moving small object? Even when the bird was stationary, it was smaller than the focus sensor, which kept picking up nearby branches or trees in the background. I’m getting tired of wildlife portraits – I want to catch some action!

I am grateful that this particular bird allowed me to make a lot of pictures today, even if I missed the best one.

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Filed under Motivation, Nature Photography

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