I took a gamble yesterday. I deferred taking my picture for the day until the camera club field trip to Pauatahanui in the evening.
I nearly blew it on two counts. A serious road smash in Upper Hutt backed traffic up so far that I was having trouble getting there before sunset. And then, a Royal Spoonbill that I was watching was spooked by someone else’s approach, but I was confident I had caught a good in-flight sequence. It looked fine on the camera. Then I got it home and loaded it into the computer. Oh! Oh! Oh!
If you are ever in a plane where the pilot has not followed a detailed preflight checklist, get out before it leaves the ground. If you don’t, it could kill you. And that’s pretty much the mistake I made. I forgot the basic checklist.
Unchecked digital cameras have less severe consequences than unchecked aircraft, but a lot of electrons died in vain last night. I had left my ISO setting locked down to ensure maximum detail in full daylight.
My camera has one of the world’s best sensors and I was using a superb lens, but it struggled in the low evening light with the sensitivity locked at ISO 100. My spoonbill shots proved unusable. Nobody to blame but me. And I did realise and correct my error later in the session (after the Spoonbill had flown).
Earlier posts reveal that Pauatahanui is one of my favourite places. However, the Forest and Bird Society’s building near the base car park is also used by the local scout troop.
Almost sixty years ago, I was a scout, and I have a lot of time for the organization, despite the alleged oddities of its founder. But, with the best will in the world, a troop of happily chattering scouts is not a great addition to a sanctuary, while you are trying to sneak up on the birds. Fortunately, the kids were mainly back near the car park, so no serious conflict of interest arose.
Back to the field trip. It was a calm, golden evening, and the surface of the harbour was almost unruffled. Visiting it in the company of an expert bird photographer and twenty or so fellow club members was, in one sense, a great pleasure. I enjoyed their company very much. On the other hand, photographically, it was a bit counter-productive for me. Birds were there, but I think I do better solo. I know that some of my club mates will produce some stunning shots , and thereby prove that this is entirely my problem.
My image for today attempts to catch the last light of the day as it illuminated lichens and spider webs on the wetland scrub.
I shall be keeping an eagle-eye on all pilots, and printing out my own checklist.