For a few seconds I was as confused as I’ve ever been with a camera in my hand.
1/6400, f/5.6, ISO 800, Canon R5, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
This summer I’ve seen and photographed fewer Green-tailed Towhees than usual so yesterday in the mountains I was delighted when this male (I believe) flew in from out of nowhere and landed on a pretty close perch in good light. He only gave me about five seconds and he didn’t pose much for me but I like the one good pose he did give me and the fact that there isn’t much clutter in the frame. Green-tailed Towhees are one of the most secretive and least understood birds in North America so I’m pleased whenever I can get good photos of one.
But he made his appearance in a pretty spectacular way, one that for a few seconds had me about as confused as I’ve ever been with a camera in my hand. I’ll try to explain but it might be that you have to be a photographer, maybe even a bird photographer, to fully understand.
One of the many things that I really like about the Canon R5 is that I can check my exposure so easily and quickly. When I have a bird in my viewfinder, all I have to do to check my exposure is push a button and the last photo I took appears in my viewfinder without me having to take my eye away to look at my screen. Another push of that same button makes my viewfinder active again. The entire process takes less than half a second so I still have the bird in frame and probably in focus and I’ve missed very little with the bird.
The two photos below are not good ones but they document what happened. The first one is cropped weirdly so that the viewer sees the same part of the perch in both photos. The two photos are sequential, #0122 and #0123.
This Chipping Sparrow had been preening. That’s some pretty fast action so I took a lot of photos of ‘him’ without having a chance to check my exposure. When he looked away from me, I took that opportunity to check my exposure. So I pushed that button twice with my eye still at the viewfinder (my exposure was fine).
Less than half a second later, when I could see through my viewfinder again…
the Chipping Sparrow had magically transformed into a Green-tailed Towhee. To say that I was momentarily confused is an understatement. What in the hell just happened?
Given a few seconds to think about it, the explanation became pretty obvious. As birds are prone to do for reasons of dominance, in that half a second while I was checking my exposure the towhee had flown in and displaced the much smaller Chipping Sparrow on the perch.
But for about three seconds I wondered if I was losing my mind.
Autor Ron Dudley