WC scouted Camas Prairie/Centennial Marsh, about 80 miles east-southeast of Boise yesterday. WC is scheduled to lead a small birding trip there later this spring. Plus, Mrs. WC needed to know if our Short-eared Owl survey route was open yet (it’s not; still snowed in).
It was not a happy experience. The wind was howling, gusting to more than 30 mph throughout the marsh. WC watched a Common Raven try to fly upwind and, despite laboring mightily, it slid backwards. Smaller birds just stay hunkered down in that kind of wind; singing from the tops of sagebrush is counter-indicated. In addiition, there were low, fleecy cumulus clouds, and the effect on ambient light was strobe like: bright/dark/bright/dark, endlessly. So there were challenges to start with, but WC made it worse by making a series of mistakes. So here is an illustrated reference of bird photography screw-ups.
This was about the only sparrow WC saw that left the ground, as far as the bottom strand of barbed wire in a fence. WC neglected his depth of field, however, and when he set the focus point on the middle of the bird’s body the head was left soft. In the next shot, when a cloud had obstructed direct sunlight, more depth of field resulted slower shutter speed, and motion blur. Sigh.
The hawk’s belly is much too dark, the result of exposure compensation being set at +0.67, in an attempt to deal with a bird on a snow field earlier. WC forgot to set the EC back to normal. Admittedly, it isn’t the most attractive setting and is a small loss, but another operator error.
There were lots of Kestrels around. This was the only one up on a perch, bouncing around like a kid on a trampoline. And WC’s timing was off by just a hair, so the eye is most a black pit, with no reflected light. Again, not an ideal perch, but an annoying goof.
Great Blue Herons are every beginning bird photographer’s favorite subject because, basically, they hold still. For long periods of time. Still, WC managed to blow the whites in the bird’s forehead and cheek. In self-defense, when WC composed the shot, the sun was behind a cloud. An instant later, a moment before WC could press the shutter, sun came out and the whites were hot.
Hill City Road takes you up into Pronghorn and Mule Deer habitat. But in the higher, exposed terrain, the wind was even fiercer. In this case, it was blowing WC’s telephoto lens around. In this case, it blew the lens slightly to the right, causing a clipping on the leftmost deer’s hindquarters, and wrecking the shot.
So, a series of mistakes, glitches and accidents. Not one decent shot among a day’s photos. Not one.