Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mockingbird’

During a brief visit to Green Spring Gardens on Monday with fellow photographer Cindy Dyer, I was thrilled when this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) landed close to me on an evergreen tree and I was able to capture this shot with my macro lens. I was focusing primarily on flowers and bugs, as one tends to do when visiting a garden, and simply reacted when this unexpected opportunity presented itself.

One of my goals in spending so much time in the field is to become so familiar with my camera gear that I can instinctively capture an image like this without having to think consciously about my camera. It is hard to explain, but it was one of those magical moments when I felt at one with my camera. Yeah, that sounds a little weird, but it is hard to put into words.

 

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Normally when I see a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), it is perched in a tree. This past Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National WIidlife Refuge, I spotted one foraging in a field. The mockingbird was perched on the stalks of the vegetation and periodically would bend down and grab a few seeds.

I love the way that the cooler tones of the bird contrast with the warmer shades of the vegetation and the background. That contrast makes this fairly common bird really stand out and shine.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

How long a lens do you need to photograph birds? Conventional wisdom dictates that you need a lens with a focal length of at least 300mm and ideally much longer than that. I generally use my Tamron 150-600mm lens when I anticipate shooting birds, especially small ones. If I want to get even closer, the zoom lens of my Canon SX50 has a field of view equivalent to 1200mm.

On Friday, I traveled into Washington D.C. to visit some friends using the Metro subway. I planned to walk a lot and I didn’t want to weigh myself down with all kinds of gear, so I put a 24-105mm lens on my DSLR. For those of you who are not technically oriented, this lens goes from mildly wide angle to mildly telephoto.

The camera and lens combination is less than ideal for photographing birds. I couldn’t help myself, however, when I spotted some birds in an urban park and decided to attempt to get some shots. My first attempt was with a Carolina Wren and it was a disaster—it was small and fast and so skittish that I could not get a decent shot.

Then I spied a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) perched on a bush in the distance. I took some initial shots and then slowly began to move forward. Eventually I was able to get to within about three feet (one meter) of the mockingbird and captured this image.

This incident served as a reminder not to limit myself to following conventional wisdom. It is definitely possible to take a good bird photo without a long telephoto lens. Why not take landscape photos with a long telephoto lens instead of a wide angle lens?

No matter what lens I have on my camera (or what camera I am using), I try to keep my eyes open for possible subjects. I will then try to capture those subjects as well as I can within whatever equipment I happen to have with me. It turns out that gear is often not the most critical element in making good images—simply being there is half the battle.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Birds can be very expressive, though it can sometimes be hard to interpret their expressions. It was pretty clear, however, that this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) was not happy about something last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Was it me?

In addition to the priceless expression on the bird’s face, I really love the limited color palette in this image. It also has a kind of sparse minimalist feel that appeals to me.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

At this time of the year, many of the birds look chubby, like this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I suspect that the mockingbird’s appearance is caused by feathers that have been fluffed up for better insulation.

I wish that I could use that excuse.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It was below freezing and windy yesterday morning when I headed out with my camera. I didn’t expect to see many birds and was a little surprised when I kept running across Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). They are pretty common where I live, but I just have not seen very many of them this winter.

The first one that I spotted was huddled inside a bush with its feathers all puffed up, probably in an effort to keep warm.

Northern Mockingbird

Another one seemed to be trying to warm up by facing the sun.

Northern Mockingbird

A final mockingbird seemed undeterred by the wind that was ruffling its feathers and boldly sang out a happy song, greeting the arrival of the new day.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Common subjects like this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) have a special appeal and challenge for me. Can I photograph them in an unusual way?

The foreground and background in this image almost blend together and highlight the beauty and personality of the mockingbird. The background makes it look a bit like it was taken in a studio setting. Only the chipped paint gives away the fact that the curious bird was perched on the man-made railing of a boardwalk. I also really like the way that the color and pattern of the weathered wood almost perfectly match the bird’s feathers.

Northern Mockingbird

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I made a trip to Green Spring Gardens and found, not surprisingly, that not much was in bloom. I used to visit this county-run historical garden often, but it’s been a while since I was there last.

While I was there I spotted this beautiful little Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) perched inside of a bush. I am not sure what kind of a bush it is, but the bright red berries add a festive touch to the scene.

I’m still celebrating the twelve days of Christmas, culminating on January 6 with Three Kings Day (Epiphany). Radio stations, alas, seem to have moved on, so I have to sing Christmas carols a cappella when I am in the car (or even at home).

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Mockingbirds always strike me as bold and defiant, often perching in the highest point of a tree or bush and singing loudly, heedless of the weather.  On a recent sunny day, a rarity for us, I spent quite some time observing this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos).

Most of the time, the mockingbird seemed to be just soaking up the warmth of the sun, but occasionally the bird would reach down and grab and swallow a bright red berry so quickly that it seemed to be inhaling the berry. In this shot, I managed to capture the berry before it disappeared.

mocking_winter_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Although the sun was shining brightly yesterday, it seemed to be generating little heat and the gusts of wind made staying outdoors uncomfortable after a short while. Even the birds in the neighborhood seemed to have taken shelter, with the exception of this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) that I was able to photograph as it foraged for food.

At other times of the year, the cheerful, energetic calls of the mockingbird announce its presence long before my eyes detect it. This mockingbird, however, was completely silent and seemed to be minimizing its expenditure of energy as it sought to sustain itself in the frigid temperatures.

Returning indoors to the warmth of my house, I pondered anew the question of how these fragile creatures are able to survive during the winter. (It’s about 13 degrees outside (minus 10 C) as I make this posting.)

mockingbird_jan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

The autumn colors may be fading fast, but the remaining leaves still provided a colorful background for this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) this past weekend.

Normally mockingbirds sing all of the time, but this one was curiously silent the entire time as I moved around at pretty close range, trying to get the best possible background for the shots. From time to time, the mockingbird would turn its head, almost like it was striking new poses for me. This was my favorite pose, a serious portrait in profile in which the mockingbird looks unusually stern.

mockingbird_autumn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

On an overcast day last week, I came across this Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), silhouetted against an almost white sky. As I was focusing on him, he hopped to a slightly higher branch. He didn’t flap his wings at all, and I managed to catch him in mid-air.

hopping_blog

The image was underexposed and as I played with it to bring back some of the details, I realized it was already almost black and white. It was not a far stretch to desaturate the photo and play around in black and white. In fact, it was so much fun that I decided to work on a second photo of the same mockingbird.

mocking2_blog

I think I need to work on my techniques a little more, but I like the initial results of my dabbling in black and white.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

A few days ago I featured a photo of a mockingbird in a posting entitled Song of Hope. That photo was unusual for me, because the bird was perched on the top of the bushes and not buried inside.

My goal, of course, is to show the beauty of the birds as clearly as possibly, ideally with an unobstructed view. Sometimes, though, you can catch a glimpse of a bird’s unique characteristics even when the view is partly blocked.

That was the case in these photos of a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). I took the shots on the same day in the same general location as the photo I mentioned earlier, so it may have been the same mockingbird, but he looks a little different in a different setting.

My favorite parts of these images are the wispy, downy feathers on the bird’s stomach. In some places, they stick out like a sidewards cowlick (back in the days when I had hair, it would stand out at odd angles like that if it grew too long). The bird was accommodating enough in posing for me that I have included both left and right profiles.

I have been told that most people have asymmetrical faces and have a preference for one profile over the other. Which profile would this mockingbird choose?

fuzzy_blog

fuzzy2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

On a cold, windy day this weekend, I visited one of the local gardens. Most of the color was gone and it was a desolate, lifeless place.

Then suddenly I heard a sound, the beautiful song of a bird. It was a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) defiantly singing a song of hope and good cheer. It seems so appropriate for this Christmas season, a message of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I was at a local garden when I happened to hear this bird singing. My bird identification skills are so weak at this point that I won’t even hazard a guess about what kind of bird he is (I seem to be wrong more than I am right, with the exception of really common birds like robins and cardinals). His song was pleasant, however, and his brown eyes were captivating. He was perched up high enough that the sky provided a clear background and the green leaves and bright red berries added some interest and color in the foreground, although they partially hide his body. I like the way the shot turned out and it required only a minimum amount of cropping.

I finally managed to get a decent bird image in relatively good focus. What happened? I’m learning that I need plenty of light with the camera and lenses that I have to get an optimal image and I need to avoid the extreme end of my telephoto zoom and aperture range too.  Most of all, I need to be really lucky.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »