Parting Shots

This should be the last of the hummingbird photos I post this season. Unless I manage to get something that trumps all of the previous shots but I don’t see that happening right now.

On Saturday I experimented with shooting the birds in flight. To do this I put some distance between myself and the feeder to put the birds at ease. While I got some great shots, I ended up having to crop-zoom to get something that would fill the frame.

Hummingbird

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Hummingbird

That means as good as that shot above is, that’s also it in terms of resolution and file size. It’s not printable but makes good web copy.

Same for these

Hummingbird
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Hummingbird

Hummingbird

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Hummingbird

But today I moved in closer to the feeder. The birds were quite a bit more wary and were reluctant to come in close. They did come and I imagine they will become braver if I keep it up.

What a difference a few feet make, though.

Hummingbird

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Hummingbird

The above image is resized for the web, but the full res version is 2148×1432. That’s quite a difference for just a few feet, some serious sweat equity and a lot of patience.

I’ve learned quite a bit via this exercise about focal length and shooting fast moving targets, not to mention the capabilities and the limitations of my gear. And best of all, I had a ton of fun doing it!

Hopefully my handful of readers are not sick to death of seeing hummingbirds and haven’t abandoned all hope and moved on to less feathery region of the Internet.

On The Wing

A challenge I set for myself today was to sit out in the yard and be very still in an effort to take some handheld pics of the hummers in flight. Initially when I would move the camera into position the birds would fly away but after awhile they seemed less fearful of my presence. In fact, I think some of the birds were taking advantage of my presence to scare away the competition.

Shooting a fast moving target as small as this was not easy. Getting the focus quickly and maintaining it almost proved too much for me but I kept at it. The fast aperture of the SAL-135F18Z was good for stopping action. the focal length was pretty restrictive, though. That being said, I think it would be an even bigger struggle zooming in and out in the time you have before they fly away.

These are the results of my initial efforts:

In Flight
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In Flight

In Flight

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In Flight

In Flight

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In Flight

Death From Above

There’s between 4 and 5 different hummers visiting our feeders, all struggling to exert control over this food resource. The balance of power has tipped a few times and right now there’s no clear dominant bird. One zips in and feeds only to be chased away and while those guys are duking it out another swoops in to take advantage.

Evil Eye

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Evil Eye

The hummer to the right in the above picture is clearly unhappy with the interloper, but the interloper pays no heed to the stern look and the splayed tail feathers and continues to drink the sweet, sweet nectar. But he’s no fool. Once the more aggressive hummer take to the air and begins his dive-bombing routine our plucky hero can only retreat.

Death From Above

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Death From Above

They’re less and less fearful of me, allowing me to sit outside fairly close and shoot this pics. There’s more in the pipe as I get them processed.

Houston Roller Derby – Ring Of Fire

I was looking forward to this month’s roller derby match as I knew it would be a good chance to put the new lens through it’s paces. Shooting sports in low light presents a unique set of optical challenges and I figured the new toy would be up to the task, and it was. I ended up shooting most of the match with it and only swapping to the wide angle for some experimental shots.

I liked being able to shoot the far side of the track as well as being able to go up into the balcony seats and shoot down on the action. Much more versatile than I imagined once I began to embrace the concept of “being the zoom.” In other words, moving my physical self to change the framing and focal length. Something that’s not always easy to do, but this event lent itself well to the concept.

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

Houston Roller Derby

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Houston Roller Derby

The rest of my shots are in the HRD Flickr site. Check them out at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hrdart/sets/72157606680709501

Whatchoo Lookin At?

Hummingbird on a feeder looking at the camera

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Whatchoo Lookin At?

Setup the camera on a tripod in the breakfast room and focused on the spot where the hummer was landing with some frequency. Used the IR remote and bounced it off the window pane so I wouldn’t startle the hummer when taking the shot.

The shutter noise didn’t scare him off, but did make the little guy look at the camera and cock his head in a rather quizzical manner.

Hummingbird on a feeder looking at the camera

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Whatchoo Lookin At?

First Hummer Of The Season

Ruby Throated Humming Bird

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Ruby Throated Humming Bird

We put the feeders out right after the “hurricane” and today we had our first sighting. That’s a Ruby Throated for sure. We saw one other that was very reddish in color. Did not get a picture. I should be able to get some good shots this season since I’ve placed the feeders right outside the kitchen window.

Prime Directive

That’s a 77mm UV filter. Why am I grinning like an idiot? Because it goes on my latest acquisition:


The incredible Sony SAL135F18Z 135mm F1.8 Sonnar T* Lens

That’s right, 135mm at 1.8 making it a beefy telephoto and ultra fast which is ideal for the kind of photography I like to do. It’s been on my wish list since purchased my first Sony DSLR and I finally just bit the bullet and bought it. I could not be happier. These tests shot using the lovely Cynthia as the subject gives you an idea of the quality of the optics we are dealing with here

From a distance:

Cynthia

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Cynthia

And up close

Cynthia

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Cynthia

As you can see, this thing is razor sharp. Taking into consideration the 1.5 crop factor of the APC-C sensor this lens is effectively shooting 1.8 at 200mm (202.5 to be precise). That’s equivalent to the max zoom of the high end 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses used on a full frame camera by many concert photographers and a full stop faster making it a monster of a concert lens.

I am going to L-O-V-E shooting with this thing.