In Sacramento County where I live, setting off legal fireworks is allowed only from June 28 through July 4. There was no sleeping in my neighborhood last night. Everyone was using up all of the fireworks in their possession. Not that the fireworks being detonated were legal let alone safe and sane. Safe and Sane fireworks don’t leave the ground. And I don’t think they make the thundering booms that were setting off my neighbors’ car alarms right and left. I photographed these fireworks from my sidewalk and they were detonated around the block or even further away and they certainly left the ground or I would never have seen them as they rose high above the two story homes across the street. After I started hearing the loud booms and Bobo retreated trembling to her cage, I went out to test my Nikon D6 with the MIOPS Lightning Trigger which I plan to use in a couple of weeks when I go to Arizona. Fireworks make a good substitute for lightning. The D6 and the MIOPS performed perfectly. Since I couldn’t see where the fireworks were coming from, I had to guess where the next display might be. I got it right about a half dozen times. It’s sort of the same with lightning. You have to guess where it’s going to strike. This shot is a composite of three of the images I took in my neighborhood.
In a week I’ll be heading back to Madera Canyon, Arizona to photograph hummingbirds so I’ve been reviewing the photographs I took there last year. We spent a day at The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia Sonoita Preserve last year and most of the 1000 plus photographs I took that day were of this very cooperative Violet-crowned Hummingbird. For most of the day he was perched on one of the several decorative rusty iron perches where he seemed to be quite comfortable. This is one of the very few (fewer than a dozen) shots I took of him on a natural perch. Sadly, this year the Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia Sonoita Preserve is closed until further notice, another casualty of the pandemic. Hopefully I’ll see some Violet-crowned Hummers in Madera Canyon.
My efforts to make my backyard more inviting to my feathered friends is paying off. Thursday, my new feeders arrived, one, a sock feeder for nyger seed that Goldfinches love, and a second for sunflower seeds that is safe from squirrels. I hung them on a double shepherd’s hook next to each other. The Lesser Goldfinches found the feeders immediately and perched on top of one of the hooks, as if trying to decide which one to try first.
The Lesser Goldfinches have dominated the fountains in my backyard for the past couple of days. Even the gregarious Bushtits have not been as evident as the Lesser Goldfinches. They seem to be more acclimated to my presence and do not immediately leave the area when I walk outside with my Nikon D6 and Nikkor 500MM PF.
The changes to my backyard intended to increase my opportunities to photograph the hummers seem to be working. The addition of enticing flowers, more nectar feeders, and perches keeps the hummers from disappearing into the shrubs. Yesterday morning, this male Anna’s with his glowing gorget, perched closer than usual and in the open, keeping an eye on the new feeders and new flowers.
Everyone loves a cool dip in the hot summer. Birds, and especially hummingbirds, are drawn to water. It’s not only the adorable Bushtits that flock to the fountain in my garden. Almost every morning I see one or more of the Anna’s Hummingbirds bathing there too. This young hummer plopped itself down in the cool water and splashed. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF.
So much for social distancing with the Bushtits! Sunday morning it looked like a rugby scrum on the fountain. They kept piling on top of one another for their bath. I counted a dozen at one point all tangled together. There are ten visible in this shot, nine in the scrum.
Because you just can’t have too many cameras, I am now the proud owner of six Nikons, three DSLR and three mirrorless cameras. The newest member of my collection is the tiny Nikon Z50, a mirrorless crop sensor camera with a 16-50mm lens, the equivalent of a 24-70mm in a full frame camera. For years, I carried my Nikon D800 and 24-70mm lens with me everywhere. It was a heavy combination but I got used to it. My camera bag became my purse and my friends joked that my purse needed its own chair when we went to a restaurant. I loved having the camera with me at all times because I often got shots I never would have had otherwise. But, as the years passed and my photography evolved more toward wildlife photography, my main camera body and lenses were very much heavier and it wasn’t convenient to carry a camera with me 24/7. And, with my focus now on photographing birds and wildlife, I didn’t feel the need to have a camera with me when I wasn’t on a designated photography mission. Still, I discovered that there were times that I wished I’d had a camera with me other than my smart phone. Fast forward to the introduction of Nikon’s mirrorless Z cameras. Smaller, compact, and lighter than the hefty full frame cameras I thought perhaps I would begin to carry a camera with me again. But the Z and its lenses while much smaller than the D6, are not particularly light weight or compact. Enter the Nikon Z50 mirrorless crop sensor camera. It is tiny, and coupled with the 16-50 mm lens is small, light weight, fits into my purse, no camera bag required, and, once again, I will have it with me. Saturday morning while running errands, I came across acres of sunflower fields in full bloom. I pulled over, took a few shots, and was able to continue on my way, with the satisfaction of knowing that I hadn’t missed something.
Improvements in Nikon’s autofocusing system in the D6 include enhancements to the 3D Auto Focus Feature. It allows the shooter to select the starting point for the autofocus which so far to me seems like a great feature. I tried it out in my backyard when the adorable Bushtits were heading down to the fountain for a bath. They congregate on the leafy twigs and branches behind the fountain as they make their way to the water. The 3D system picked out this Bushtit in the midst of lots of leaves because I had the starting point just to the left and slightly up of center. So far I am pleased with how quickly it reacts and maintains focus once it latches on. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF.
Sea Otter pups depend on their mothers for survival. They stay with their mothers until they develop their own survival skills and that can be as long as six months. It is so fascinating to watch the pups with their mothers. They lay on her stomach or float next to her. They don’t sink. Their fur is so dense they can’t dive until they get their adult fur.