I’m still going through my thousands of photographs from Costa Rica and will be posting many more on the blog but this afternoon I was itching to take a few new photographs and wanted to try out some of my new equipment and ponder some of the advice we got from Moose in Costa Rica about bird photography. 1) Don’t center the subject; 2) look for gestures; 3) be careful of the background. I saw the hummer at the feeder and since I failed to capture any decently focused hummingbirds in Costa Rica despite their being constantly around us including feeding often just outside our bungalows, I decided I needed to photograph my hummingbirds.
Also, I am trying to improve the quality of some of my equipment. Not the cameras or lenses…I’m happy with my lenses and my cameras. I discovered that my smallish tripod and my awkward to maneuver ball head were not up to the task of serious bird photography. I have my new ball head (a Really Right Stuff BH-55) but my new tall sturdy tripod (a Gitzo) will arrive tomorrow. I got all new mounting clamps and plates for the new ball head and decided to replace the mounting clamp on my Manfrotto ball head with a Really Right Stuff Arco-Swiss type plate. I can already see a significant improvement. The ball head, while still awkward to maneuver quickly, suffered from its quick release clamp which did not hold the camera or long lenses firmly enough, jiggling with the slightest touch. Not a good thing so I’m very pleased with the new plates.
I set the D7100 with the 80-400mm lens attached with the hummingbird feeder prefocused in the viewfinder and set the camera to “live view” and turned on the remote shutter release. All I had to do was click the remote when the hummer appeared at the feeder. As it turned out, I had only two chances to photograph the hummer after setting up and no chances after I set up the flash for remote operation. Even with all my planning, it was still difficult to capture the birds in flight which is the gesture I wanted to photograph. And, when I realized light was too dim and I set up the flash to trigger remotely, the hummer didn’t return to the feeder. As a result, the shots I did get were underexposed and I had to increase the exposure by half a stop. Finally, I hate to admit it but despite my considering the composition, the hummer still appeared smack dab in the middle of the shots so these are all cropped. Practice, practice, practice.