Hummingbirds

A few days into the last school year, our Life Skills teacher handed me her phone. Playing on the screen was a movie that I couldn’t believe was real. A cloud of hummingbirds was buzzing a bird feeder like electrons orbiting an atomic nucleus. The teacher had shot the movie through her kitchen window.

Today, she invited my wife and I over for lunch, and suggested I bring along my camera. For the next hour, we ate salads and watched the little birds feast at the feeder. Between bites I switched lenses and mostly failed to catch the little scamps in action. I shot almost 600 frames, and wound up with these four.

The challenge is not just in their speed, though that is a problem. They really don’t stop moving for more than a half-second or so, and are in and out of the focal plane before you can get a bead on them.

The real problem, though, is shooting fast enough to stop their wings, while also allowing enough light into the camera to make a decent image. I would have loved to have shot these images at 1/4000, but it was cloudy and even rained for part of the time. It was just too dark. And shooting with any speed at all meant cranking the ISO to 3200 sometimes, which made even the decent images a little too grainy.

Still, they are fascinating creatures. One thing I’d heard about but never seen was their aggressive behavior to each other. I guess if I had to get through the world eating liquid sugar all day, I’d be a little cranky, too.

Nimbus

Thunderhead over western Maine from Gorham, NH
Thunderhead over western Maine from Gorham, NH

IMG_8490When we set sail for the East Coast, the prospect of a regular thunderstorm was one of many things I looked forward to. While we get more here than we got in Portland, it appears to be five or six a year instead of one or two. Still, that’s better than no fireworks at all.

I got this photo today in a hardware store, looking northeast about thirty miles. That mature anvil top is definitely not something I got to see back in Oregon. The line of storms continued to the north all evening. I went to school and got a few frames, but had had to fire off almost a hundred 1/10th exposure, five or six at a time. Let’s just say my reflexes are not on a part with lightning. Lots of “black Wyoming” on the SD card. The one to the right is the best of the bunch. I’d love to get something like this someday, though. Even once.