Sometimes everything cosmically (or is it comically?) aligns so that magically I learn something useful at the exact time I need it. Just such an alignment occurred this week when I received my free weekly Digital Photography School email. One of the lessons focused 😉 on Bird Photography and here I am in a bird refuge (coincidence?). Since I often return from the park with an SD card full of images composed of fuzzy dark smudges against a blue sky, this email contains info vital to my future photography efforts. For my photographer friends hoping to improve their bird pictures, I recommend that you check out this lesson.
On Monday the sun finally reappears and the clouds of mosquitoes dissolve, so Storm and I escape our RV bondage for a ride out to San Bernard Wildlife Refuge (a sister refuge to Brazoria about 20 miles away). I use the new camera settings recommended for birding by DPS hoping to improve the sharpness of my bird photos. The first half of our ride into the refuge is bird free and we start to get down-heartened, then suddenly we find them! Birds are everywhere including HUGE Herons, Caracara and the awesome Roseate Spoonbills!
Although the spoonbills are too far away for my biggest lens, a visiting photographer who carefully approaches the Caracara with me assures me that within a week spoonbills will be close enough to shore that I can observe them mating. I have always maintained that mating is something best done in one’s own private sanctuary, so I have never seen birds (or anything else for that matter) mating. Apparently Spoonbills do not share my inhibitions and according to my new photographer friend I must come back and see them. Prepare yourself because in the coming weeks this site may contain wild bird mating photos which may be inappropriate for those with delicate constitutions.
The one setting change recommended by DPS that most improved my bird photography is my change to back button focusing. By using this feature on my camera, I now have a much better chance of getting birds in focus while they are in flight. That really paid off when Storm spotted a Heron dragging a huge snake into the air. I couldn’t see the snake through my lens as I snapped the shutter. Only after I got the shot did I realize that in addition to the dangers presented by mosquitoes, alligators and earth bound snakes I now need to keep eyes on the sky for the danger of snakes raining down on me as they wrestle free from their bird captors.