Photography and Birding: Good Photo, Bad Photo

Introduction

We were recently visiting Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on one of our bi-yearly hiking vacations where we take to America’s beautiful national parks and spend a week or so hiking up and down mountains and admiring as many beautiful and natural areas as possible during the time we have set aside.

As stated on this blog before, I am an occasional bird watcher. For those who are just chiming in, I enjoy locating and identifying birds especially when I am in a new area. Here’s my problem…I am not a very well educated birder. I am a rank novice, but I don’t let that discourage me.

How I Bird

Here is my approach. A couple of years ago, I purchased a bridge camera with a long zoom lens. It has the equivalent of a 24-1200mm lens on a 35mm camera. That is a long zoom and it allows me to photograph birds at quite a distance. Truth must be told here…I can’t say this is a great camera. It is a good camera and certainly good enough for me. When I chose the Canon SX50 HS, it was a “cost-benefit” decision. In other words, it was a camera that had what I wanted at a price I thought was reasonable and I was willing to compromise a bit on picture quality.

That being said, it has done most of what I asked of it. The one thing I now know that I didn’t know before is that it has a relatively slow autofocus and doesn’t always select the object of my photographic desire. Even the best cameras, costing ten times more than my selection, have misfires as well.

OK, so let’s get to the meat of this post. I have my bridge camera and we are hiking through Zumwalt Meadow near Road’s End, Kings Canyon. BTW when they say Road’s End, they mean it. That is where the road ends!

The meadow was beautiful. We had some concern that parts of the Zumwalt Meadow trail would be under water, but we got lucky and the water at receded enough that we could complete the loop.

During our walk, shortly after we crossed the boardwalk portion, I saw a quick moving bird a distance away. Surprisingly, it looked like a shore bird that I would see on the coastline. What was it doing here?

I quickly got my SX50 HS ready and began to focus on the moving subject. I fired away and, at the time, I knew I was missing some of the shots because the focus was “hunting” for the bird, but I also knew it was getting some pictures of the bird.

Lucky for me, I was able to capture three photos that, added together, enabled me to identify the avian mystery.

WARNINING *** These photos are not of great quality. They are what I call “good enough.” I generally take time to compose and double check focus, etc., but with moving birds it is a bit difficult.

The Evidence

Here is the worst picture of them all.


Sandpiper Photo number 1
Spotted Sandpiper moving across a fallen log

As you will note from the photograph, there is a lot of debris between me and the bird. Now remember the camera is zoomed in so it is difficult to keep the bird in the viewfinder. If you ever tried to follow a bird or even find a stationary bird using a binocular, I think you will understand the problem.

The camera had a hard time deciding what was the area of focus. It appears the camera locked on the branch or broken part of the log as the main subject. I really can’t find fault with that. The bird was scurrying so there was no way for me to change the focus options at that point. This is a small version of the photo so it may look sharp to you, but the bird is not in focus.

My main goal in this situation is to get the pictures of the bird and worry about the details later. It doesn’t always work, but more often than not I have success (check out Photography – When is good enough, good enough? A bird story).


Spotted sandpiper picture number two
A photo of the Spotted Sandpiper just as it started to move its wings

The photo above is a bit better because more if it is in focus and the movement of the wings still leaves the head relatively clear.


Spotted sandpiper photo number three
This was the last photo I took in the sequence before the bird was totally hidden by the nearby foliage

This is perhaps the sharpest overall photograph I was able to capture of this particular bird. It is a shame that the sandpiper was slightly out of frame and the beak is only partially visible, but that’s the way it goes sometimes!

Please understand…I am not blaming the camera. I am not as skilled in using this equipment as I should be, but I do the best I can. That being said, when I added all three pictures together, I have a good idea of what this bird looks like.

Solving the Mystery

My modus operandi is to review my photos when I get home and then gather my bird identification books and a good piece of birding software – iBird Ultimate – to identify the mystery bird.

Let me say one thing about iBird Ultimate. This is a great program for someone like me. One of the major benefits is that the user can enter a geographic location in the United States and it will show which birds may be visiting at that time of the year. This helps to narrow the search.

Additionally, if you find a bird that looks like the potential subject, there are usually several additional photos to view which enables users to see a variety of views and variations for that particular bird.

Once I queued up my resources, I was easily able to determine this bird was a Spotted sandpiper. The last thing I do, which is much fun, is I take out my ABA North America birding list and mark off the bird as “seen.” Now I have one less bird to worry about although I will continue to seek a better photograph if the opportunity presents itself.

Read more about the Spotted Sandpiper HERE.


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160701

The Finale of the Peralta Trail Photo Essay

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Long shadows, time to head backk
Toward Sunset

After spending some time at the Fremont Saddle and having a snack, we wanted to head back to the trailhead. As you can note from the picture, the shadows were getting longer and with that the cool, soon to be followed by cold, December chill would be setting in.

Even the decaying plants add a beauty to the desert if we take time to notice and appreciate them. Desert life is hard and any plant or animal that can survive gains my immediate and ever-lasting respect.

This is the final post about our experience along the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, Arizona. If you like moderate hiking and a walk in a very different and beautiful landscape, I recommend it. Just be prepared, heed all warning signs and read about the hike before you commit.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.


©Jeffrey B. Ross


Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Spent desert flower stalk
Spent desert flower stalk

As I pointed out in one of the first posts about the Peralata Trail, there is an abundance of desert flora along the trail as far as the eye can see. There is beauty all around during the spring as cacti and desert trees bloom freely.

Once the bloom is over, some of the plants continue to provide aesthetic interest with their dry stalks, etc. I so appreciated this willowy structure highlighted against the dark, shadowy background in the picture above. It was truly striking! The lower group of plants sporting their colors of yellow and orange were supporting cast members.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160629

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle - one last shot!
Weavers Needle – one last picture

Once we made it to the saddle and took in the view of Weavers Needle, we realized that it was time to head back down the trail. We started the hike later in the day and we were satisfied to have reached the saddle.

Before we started our journey back to the trailhead, I couldn’t resist taking one last picture of the needle and I am glad I did!

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160628

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle close up
Weavers Needle close up

A closer view of Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail. Read more about this particular formation in the post of June 27, 2017 linked at the bottom of this entry.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160627

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


The Peralta Trail Payoff
The Peralta Trail Payoff

This view is what I call the “payoff” for hiking uphill along the Peralta Trail. A bit more than two miles along the trail, hikers will come to the Fremont Saddle. For those who don’t know, a mountain’s saddle is generally a flatter piece of land between two mountains, or two rises of a single mountain, which often provides a wide area for sitting, resting, etc.

The vista from the saddle is a startling view of Weavers Needle. For those who don’t suspect what is coming, it can be awesome as it rises up just over the horizon and comes into view as you push upward onto the saddle.

You can read more specifically about Weaver’s SaddleHERE

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160626

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Another window in a rock formation
Another window in a rock formation

As we hiked further, we came across another window rock. This is what I enjoy about hiking; there are discoveries along the way most of the time.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160625

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Approaching the saddle
A view from close to the saddle near the top of the Peralta Trail

As hikers continue to climb, it pays to look back “down” the trail. In some cases, hikers may find that the best views are behind them. This photo was taken as we began to approach the part of trail leading to the saddle, but looking back toward the trailhead.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160624

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Large rock formation along the Peralta Trail
As we ascended the trail, we passed this intricate rock formation

This rock formation reminds me a bit of a human riding an animal. Imagine the person closest to the left side of the frame seen from the back sitting upright. The lower rocks “create” the representation of the animal which appears to be moving away from the viewer.

The scope of the formation can be gauged when compared in size to the surrounding saguaros. Generally speaking, saguaros don’t start to grow additional arms until after they are forty or fifty years old.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160623

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Saguaros greet hikers along the trail
Saguaros greet hikers along the Peralta Trail

As in most areas where hikers might want to trek in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, there are a significant number of saguaros along the Peralta Trail and they appear in clusters as well as individual specimens.

They seem to “greet” hikers as they ascend the trail to the saddle or beyond. Also notice the interesting shadow play of the saguaro in the foreground.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.