The Texas Hill Country is home to many beautiful and interesting birds and bird watchers. If you are a bird watcher you will need powerful binoculars and some other birding equipment. My friend, Temi has discovered the wonder and delight of Photographing Birds in the Texas Hill Country. To be proficient at bird photography, you need a good camera, a powerful telephoto lens, a steady hand or tripod, good eyes and a lot of patience.
Temi has all of that. I will not confess to equipment envy at all. You can see her telephoto lens poking out of the window at the bird hut.
I am not a bird watcher but if you are interested here is a link for BIRD WATCHING EQUIPMENT and how to get started.
This post is a mix of her photos and mine.
In my last post, I talked about Losing Yourself in the Texas Hill Country.
This is Part 2 of Losing Yourself in the Texas Hill Country
Temi and her husband have only lived in the Hill Country about a year. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I think my friend has found herself in this new place. Temi and I have known each other for more than 25 years. As I was reminiscing about our years of friendship, I was amazed at how many road trips we have been on together. We have been on several trips to other states and she was part of a ministry team on my first trip to Guatemala.
Most of our trips have been ministry or mission related. So when I say that she has found herself, that in no way means that she was lost. She is passionately in love with Jesus and her husband. She knows who she is and whose she is. What I am referring to is a redirection in her photography skills and subjects.
She loves photographing waterfalls,
and landscapes. These have been some of her favorite things to shoot. Then there are the photos of fall foliage, flowers, and nature in all of its glory. She carries her camera with her everywhere. Because you never know when the light will be just right for that perfect shot.
Last fall Temi invited me to come south but that trip just didn’t work out. This year when I went I carried my camera and extra lenses along in hopes of getting a lesson or two. I have a LOT to learn.
For Photographing Birds – Start with a Good Camera
There are a lot of great brands to choose from. But I am just going to talk about mine and Temi’s. This is not a sponsored post.
My camera is Canon EOS Rebel T6.
This is a good entry-level DSLR camera. The lens is 18 to 55mm. That is basically the same as how our eyes see with a slight magnification. The telephoto lens that came with the bundle is a 2x telephoto. Which means 2 x 55. That’s 110mm. Not much reach for photographing birds as you will see below. The mm of a lens is the focal length. To take close-up shots of things far away, you need a “long” focal length, which means high mm. Mine was not high, but I didn’t let that stop me.
These are Temi’s cameras. They are both Nikons. The big boy on the back is a Nikon D850 with a 200-500mm zoom.
When I set my camera next to her’s (not shown) it reminded me of Crocodile Dundee’s quote, “That’s not a knife! This is a KNIFE!” Her camera was the KNIFE!!! Oh well!
On our first morning out, Temi was excited to take me to Chaulk Bluff. I was looking forward to our outing and I was so glad to have some one that knew their way around the Hill Country. I didn’t want to get lost again.
It was a beautiful day. The campground was quiet because the tourists and vacationers (except us) had not arrived yet. The river was serene.
For photographing BIRDS, you need a powerful telephoto lens.
Mine was only a 2x telephoto and was not adequate for the task. The busy little birds were just a blur.
Temi’s telephoto is a Nikon 200-500mm zoom with a hood.
She took me back to her secret place at Chaulk Bluff where she had photographed several Painted Buntings. These colorful little birds feast on Johnson Grass seeds. We saw a few but the seeds were mostly gone so that affected the bunting sightings.
You need a lot of patience.
And you need a good eye.
We both sat quietly and watched for movement, flashes of color. We listened to the bird’s calls.
While she patiently watched and waited for a shot, I got my FAVORITE TRAVEL WATERCOLOR gear out and painted a Painted Bunting. I also videoed my process for a series to I do that is called “ART TIP TUESDAY”. I film short, under 10 minutes, art videos for WTC – College on the Square.
Over coffee, before we left her home, Temi told me that she hoped that she would see a Green Jay. I had never even heard of a Green Jay. I think God must have overheard our conversation. You can not even imagine her delight at not only seeing one but capturing this fantastic image. It’s almost like he was posing for her.
You need a tripod or a steady hand.
Temi had a tripod but she didn’t use it, choosing just to steady her equipment by hand.
Watching her with her willingness to wait was such an inspiration. We are always in such a hurry and we want what we want right now. Most of the time it just doesn’t happen like that. You can see that she has found herself in bird photography. It shows.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my dinky little telephoto lens would not be able to capture the birds that we were seeing. But I wasn’t defeated or discouraged. Nor did I fall into the comparison trap.
So I decided to photograph the twisted trees. Those were easy. They didn’t flit about like the birds.
We had talked a little about changing the settings on my Canon but mostly it was set to auto.
It looks so peaceful but I think it could be a little creepy at night. I would really have to reign in my imagination. With summer almost here, this area will soon be a hive of activity.
And then she spotted a Vermillion Flycatcher. He hopped along the top of the rock wall just teasing her along. She followed along slowly, patiently, and focused on his every move.
There is that steady hand.
This is her photo of a Vermillion Flycatcher. Then I saw a flash of red, too. I was elated when it landed on the ground right in front of me.
Grabbing my camera, I adjusted my zoom. Oh, my!!! This shot is mine. Yes, that red speck in the rocks of a cold campfire is the Flycatcher that I photographed. This is the best image of about 20 shots. I did learn how to set for continuous shooting and autofocus. I sure hope you are impressed.
I am thinking that bird photography just might not be my thing, but I was still anxious to learn more about my camera. With open eyes, ears, and heart, I am an eager student and want to learn how to leave auto settings behind and step into some new settings on my camera.
The next day was much better. You will have to come back again to see the improvements.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 NIV
’til Next time,