Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 4 of cardinal hunt | The most frustrating one yet

The blurry result of my frustrating hunting excursion on Thursday.

Photographers can bear the disappointment of never getting a chance to shoot something. Sometimes, you're just not in the right place at the right time, as is so important in this art. Photographers understand that.

But the greatest frustration is when something is sitting right before your eyes and you just fail to capture it. That's what happened to me on Day 4 of my quest to get the perfect cardinal photo.

UPS on Thursday morning delivered to my apartment a monopod, which I ordered in hopes that it would stabilize my lens. It's not the most expensive, high-quality piece of glass out there, so it tends to be slower than some supertelephoto lenses of its size. A monopod, I was hoping, would eliminate some shaky images.

During my walk, I stumbled across an area of woods where cardinals were chirping wildly. It seemed to be a place where the birds would congregate.

I stood on the roadside, waiting for a cardinal to perch on a branch dowsed in sunlight, a requirement for a good photo with this new lens. The closest I came to having a bird come to me was when a female hopped out of the woods and into the ditch. It danced along the ash-covered ground, where a wildfire had once burned. It didn't create a good shot. Besides, I was after the male.

So I ventured into the woods. I patiently waited, and they came. Two males chased a female around the underbrush. They landed right above me. Not thinking, I tried to keep the monopod attached to my camera as I tried to frame a shot. But the monopod was preventing me from moving around to get into position - so branches weren't in my way and so forth. I eventually picked up the whole contraption and snapped a shot. The blurry image above is the result. Bummer.

On the walk back to my car, a male cardinal came swooping out of the woods and landed on a branch with perfect lighting. I aimed my camera. All was going great. Then, the lens wouldn't focus. On top of that, something was screwy with the aperture. I snapped one shot, and the photo came out completely black. The cardinal was still there, taunting me. It was my first technical issue with the new lens, one that I still haven't figured out. As soon I thought I had the lens working properly again, the bird flew off.

This was one of those days a photographer would rather forget.

A female hops along the ash-covered ditch.

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