Thursday, 29 March 2018

The thorny issue of drawing with light


This is a Green Thorntail from Costa Rica. It is rather lacking in the thorny tail department because it is the female and when they were doling out long tails the females weren't allocated any. Shame. In Costa Rica Bob and I saw a staggering 37 species of Hummingbird, and looking through my images I've managed to photograph a fair few of them. Not all of them by any means, but enough, I think, to manage the odd filler post like this. 

Hummingbirds, despite their crazy speed and unpredictable nature, are probably my biggest successes from the trip. You would think that they would be the blurry rubbish ones but I seem to have done OK. Generally photography was exceedingly difficult, the biggest reason being the irreconcilable conflict with birding. I simply had no time in which to realistically get what I wanted. I know, moan moan moan. It is what I do best. If I stopped to spend time photographing a bird I stopped birding, and that I wasn't prepared to do on the birding trip of a lifetime. This meant being largely restricted to grab shots here and there and then having to catch up whilst hoping Bob and Leo hadn't seen a Quetzal yet. I don't think I missed any birds by lingering, but there were very few birds that I felt I spent adequate time with.

The exception to this were various feeding stations where I made hay whilst the sun shone. Literally. Rather than have a siesta in the heat of the day, I camped out by various collections of sticks and piles of fruit. As many people familiar with such things will know, the middle of the day is not the time to be taking photographs. It was that or nothing. So whilst I saw over 400 species, the number of birds that I would say I had decent keepers of is far far lower. I have, in my opinion, barely enough with which to illustrate a trip report, and certainly a day by day trip report is proving rather hard as some days were far less productive than others. 

And don't talk to me about the light! Awful. Heat of the day or the dappled darkness of the forest. ISO 4000 was my most-used speed. The camera kept up - just - but the images looked better on the screen than they are in real life and lulled me into a false sense of security. Most of my rainforest photos are complete rubbish, the odd ones rises above the discarded heap. Maybe this is why the Hummingbirds came out better than expected, they were at the margins or in the open. The above image was taken at almost precisely midday at ISO 1600 in a clearing, with a fleetingly beneficial bit of white cloud keeping the glare in check. I am pleased with it, pleased by the simplicity and the hint of action, but by far the majority of what I have taken leaves me wanting more, wanting to go back at a slower pace and do it again. Properly, with thought and care. Second visits to places are often good for that, but let's see. Time is short.


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