Monday, May 28, 2012

Keep Your Camera at Default!!!

     Last year, there were just some small birds frolicking outside my window.  I was looking forward to see them again this Spring but they haven't arrived yet.  I miss the sudden dashes of shadows passing by every now and then.  I miss the sudden rustle from the leaves and grasses outside.  I miss the hourly chirping usually at 9 am.  Most of all, I miss them taunting me to take pictures of them as they suddenly disappear with my slightest movement.

     Hear that?  That's nature's music every morning and every evening in my place.  What a nice way to greet me, right?  Wrong.  As a photographer, it just frustrates me that I can not take pictures of these beautiful creatures.  I can't even spot them most of the time.  But it get's worse.  Very so often that I get distracted by these fast little fellows when I'm in my room.  At times they just swoop past by.  And more annoyingly, they chirp for a couple of seconds outside my window.  I move an inch (attempting to reach my camera) and they're gone.

Out My Window
By luck I just came in from a photo session so I still have my camera ready.  I heard rustling sounds and thought I'd get a shot of a squirrel.  I was just lucky to capture this shot.  But it's a crop since I was using a short lens that time.  This photo was taken last year.

     I was glad when I started noticing some movement outside my window.  I can tell it's not just a leaf or something else just blown away.  But this was different.  The figures have a little bit more volume.  Kind of like comparing the little birds passing by is like a dart.  This one was like a baseball pitched at high speed.  After a couple of days, I realized it's a big bird.  Not as big as a heron but about 3 times bigger than the ones I used to see.  How did I know this?  There's a small tree outside and this big bird perched on a branch.  Woke me up with this loud and annoying sound.

     But I'm not a musician anymore.  I'm a photographer (a very bad one).  Despite that annoying sound coming out of its beak, I only see an opportunity to take a picture.  The bird was perching at a branch very confidently.  It was positioned so good, I can't go wrong with composition, I wouldn't have to worry.  I think it was seeking something 'cause it was looking all around while screeching.  I got even more excited 'cause its mouth is open.  Sort of panting.  And the best part is, it doesn't seem to be bothered while I was slowly reaching for my camera.

... By the way, my camera is almost always on my bed.  Either its in the bag or just lying there, but it's on my bed...

     I was at the most comfortable position I can afford to capture the moment.  The composition was perfect.  The shutter speed was okay.  Metering tells me it's a "go."  And now came the decisive moment.  The bird happen to stare at me, mouth open, for a couple of seconds.  This is my time!

And here's the picture of that decisive moment:
No Bird
With the bird's weight, it would have been sitting at the center of the image with its head third to upper-left.  It was framed between my window bars.  It would've also been surrounded by these lovely bokeh.

     So why did I end up with this empty picture?  Was the bird too fast?  Did it notice me and left before I took the shot?  Was I just imagining things?
No.  My camera was set at a 10 second delay drive... the bird left at about the 7th second.

     I remember that I was experimenting on some self-portraits, the night before; I left the camera settings as it is.  It was easy for me to see aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.  Most of them show up through the view finder.  But not the drive.

     I also remember Gordon Laing of Cameralabs repeatedly mentioning to set your camera back to "P" or "Auto" mode whenever the session is over.  I never followed that advice.  It's not that I shun those modes.  It's that I've never been in a situation where I actually have to.  That is, until now.  And as Kai of DigitalRev mentioned in this video, it's about taking the shot.

     Lesson learned from this bird.  But I wish I get another chance to finally take a good picture of it... out my window.

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