Photographing hummingbirds is one of the most challenging and frustrating photographic endeavors to undertake. Hummers are so fast that if you can manage a click before they dart away, you’re ahead of the game. The great thing about hummers, though, is that they hover. And, sometimes they will hover long enough to give you a chance to capture some marvelous images. When I was in Madera Canyon a few weeks ago, even with my magnificent Nikon D5 and D500 cameras that will record 10 to 14 shots per second, I got few in-focus shots. I should point out that because I was using flash, I had the camera set to take a single frame, not a high speed burst of 12. With this set-up, if I did manage to get a single shot in focus, additional shots were out of focus or the bird was half out of the frame, moving too quickly for me to capture the entire bird. I recently discovered one exception to this.
A female Broad-billed Hummingbird spent a leisurely 15 seconds that allowed me to capture a sequence of 5 images. She flies in and looks at me, hovers, moves to the feeder, sips some nectar, moves back away from the feeder and looks at me again in the same position as when she arrived. Then, she was gone. While I was in Madera Canyon, I tried to keep the feeder in the lower right or left corner of the view finder so that I had a chance of capturing the bird in flight away from the feeder. I didn’t move the camera to eliminate empty space on the left because I was hopeful that she would move far enough away from the feeder to allow me to capture her without the intrusion of the feeder. That didn’t happen in this sequence. So, I cropped these photographs to a square crop. I kept the feeder in the photograph because that’s part of the story. Because she is a female hummingbird though, her colors are not the gorgeous jewel-like colors of her mate so the photographs aren’t as striking as if she were a male. But, I’m glad she spent fifteen seconds with me.
This Broad-billed Hummingbird from Madera Canyon, AZ was flying in to land. His landing gear is down and he’s ready to grab onto the perch at the feeder nearby.
I’ve been thinking about the upcoming solar eclipse. Where I live, the eclipse will be about 79% of total, but in Oregon the path of totality is about 50 miles from where my brother lives. When I was in Oregon a week ago, I took this photograph of a cone flower in front of my brother’s house and it reminds me of a caricature of the sun, sort of a botanical depiction of the eclipse. The petals represent the corona and the center, the moon blocking out the sun.
One evening in Churchill, Canada, we drove out of town and walked across some rocks to look at Hudson’s Bay as the sun got low in the sky. If you’re wondering how I was able to walk on the rocks in this photograph if you read my post about my fear of walking on rocks, there is a huge difference between these rocks which are large, flat boulders anchored below soil level, and the field of loosely strewn rocks and boulders that brought out my debilitating and irrational fear of falling due to my lack of sure-footedness. I was actually quite comfortable scrambling around these rocks.
I used a Luminar B&W preset for dramatic effect. There was only a small sliver of orange at the horizon and I think the scene is much more dramatic in black and white.
Another Broad-billed Hummingbird from Madera Canyon.
The White-winged Dove is closely related to the ubiquitous Mourning Dove that is common all over the United States, but this dove lives mostly south of the border and spends summers in southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and Southern Texas.
It was hot and dry in Madera Canyon when I was there in late June and early July. The birds were suffering from the heat as much as we were. This Black-headed Grosbeak took a rest break on a crossbeam near the feeders, panting while he fanned his wings to cool down.
On my first day at Madera Canyon, this Costa’s Hummingbird stopped by the feeders late in the day. Although I didn’t any in-flight shots of this small hummer (which is only about three and a half inches in length) since I’d never seen one before, I wanted to feature it on my blog.
The smoke from Oregon’s Cinder Butte Fire between Bend and Burns briefly dissipated on Saturday from the breezes and the skies were clear enough that I actually could see Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters and Broken Top. Little Lava Lake is the source of the Deschutes River. In the distance is South Sister to the left, Broken Top in the middle, and Mt. Bachelor at the right. A few paddle boarders are visible in the aqua waters beneath Mt. Bachelor but the haze from the fire is still visible around the mountains and it returned the next day, obscuring everything again.
A front page article in the August 4th edition of the Bend Bulletin, shouted that California Tortoiseshell Butterflies blanketed central Oregon for the couple of months before I arrived. These black and orange beauties were reported to fill the air in dense clouds at ground zero, Sparks Lake where we were headed the next day. I was excited that I might find some spectacular sights there until I got to the end of the article which basically said the butterflies had disappeared by now. I wondered about the timeliness of the article. Our visit to Sparks Lake the next day yielded a paltry few Butterflies sitting at the edge of the water with closed wings so the brilliant orange and black pattern was not visible. A missed spectacle for sure. The newspaper must have needed a filler that day. However, before we left to drive to the lake, I went out to the front garden with its inviting rudbeckia and noticed a lone California Tortoiseshell Butterfly sipping nectar from the center of the cone flowers. It kept its wings closed most of the time except when it flew to another flower. I managed to get only a single shot of the open wings.