Townsend’s Warbler Enjoying some Sun in our Backyard

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Watching birds has become my new passion during 2020. This bright yellow Townsend’s Warbler occasionally visits my backyard. When he lifts up his wings high enough, the 4 black stripes are more pronounced. He is hiding his stripes under his wings. Initially I noticed the bright yellow chest underside of this bird.

As I was watching the bird getting ready to launch and fly, he revealed his stripes underneath his wings.

When he was perched on our fence, he has a fluffy and round shape. But when he is leaving and flying, his body stretches out long to show a thinner shape as he takes off. I wish I could look that lean by changing my positioning.

It is also interesting how he has the black mask look around his eyes. He does not need any black eyeliner to make his eyes more pronounced. He is fortunate that his black shading around his eyes gives him the super hero mask appearance. This is a pretty cool built-in look!

This year our Christmas will not be spent with our usual large group of family and relatives. Our Christmas will consist of 3 of us at home. We will cook Christmas dinner and drop off food to my parents. But unfortunately we will not be able to interact with family and relatives.

Holiday parties and interaction is great. But do we tend to participate in small talk especially when the party is with a large group? When it is a large party, we usually do not practice a lot of intimate conversation, just because it is hard to do in a crowd. We may not share any problems or issues during our holiday celebrations, since it may not be appropriate.

When I saw this bird reveal its hidden black stripes under the wings, what are we hiding underneath? Maybe our burden would be lighter if we shared it with someone.

If we lift up our arms and let go of a worry or a problem, we could feel lighter. Anxiety over our problems will not make them go away. Working on a plan to possibly resolve a problem could be the answer. Allowing a friend to support us in our problems could relieve anxiety. How about trusting God to solve our impossible situation?

Let’s lift up our arms and show our hidden black stripes. Can we fly higher seeking help to resolve our black stripes?

Photos Teach!

 

 

 

Crazy Wings

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Since I have been shooting photographs of hummingbirds, I never realized how many different poses and positions these birds have. The more I shoot the more I am surprised by the many different positions they move their wings. These wings look curved forward in their position. Also this bird’s head gives a different position of looking at the top from a slight angle.

Being a good photographer means catching natural images. I dread having my photograph taken. I probably only have a couple poses when I asked to be in a photograph. Being a typical guy, I am not flexible. I miss not playing sports. I walk for exercise and keep an eye on my fitbit to get 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day. In addition to walking, I do get low when I am gardening, but that’s my limit. My wife does pilates. She is flexible and gets into stretch positions I cannot even figure out.

One of my best pictures are taken as I am in position to shoot pictures. That is my natural position. It is best to capture any living creature doing their own “thing”.

A good picture reveals who we are. So my perfect pictures show me in action.

The hummingbirds are pretty focused on getting their nectar. They need the energy, since they move so quickly. So most of their pictures show their beaks in the flower.

How can you improve your photography? Try to catch your subjects in their natural habitat where ever or whatever that is.

See how you can improve your picture taking during this Christmas? Can you take some creative pictures other than just around the tree? What kind of fun poses can you shoot of your love ones?

Photos Teach!

Up Close & Personal

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It is difficult to get an up front photograph of the hummingbird. Most of my shots are from the side. The hummingbirds are timid and are getting accustomed to me in my yard. They fly closer to me to check me out and access if I am safe. I try to wear colors to match the environment and to blend in. I am pretty still and do not move much.

It is hard to find the right spot to catch the hummingbird. It is unpredictable knowing where the birds will fly to get their next sip of nectar. It was pretty remarkable to get in front of the bird to see him face to face.

Since being sheltering in place, we hardly see anyone. We go grocery shopping and see the other shoppers whiz by.

It has been a challenge to be up close and personal with people via video chats. Our family has been just as busy with activity. We save time by not traveling as per our old routine. Instead we spend more regular time with our friends, family and relatives. We are hearing about experiences from the younger generation as they are learning to develop their passions. We enjoy their acting, dancing, writing and ambitions to make this world a better place. We share our worries, problems and triumphs during this pandemic life.

We are learning how to be involved with each others lives. For example, my cousins are enjoying my recent nature pictures. One cousin passed on my website info on a Nextdoor thread about hummingbirds. This probably would not have happened if we were not regularly meeting together.

Surprisingly, we are getting up close and personal with our loved ones, even though we do miss being together physically. Our relationships have become stronger even during our video meetings.

I’m glad I could get up close and personal with this hummingbird. It took effort on my part to get close to this bird.

In the same way, it takes time and effort to get up close and personal with the people in my life. But it is so worth it to be a part of people’s lives. I

Are you going to be up close and personal with your people? Find your people and get involved. A Pandemic is not an excuse to be a spectator. Can you expand your circle?

Photos Teach!

Reaching Forward

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This hummingbird’s wings look translucent. They look a little angel-like. It is interesting how he has his wings going forward. Humans reach forward to obtain an object. A referee will put his 2 arms forward to signal his call for a play. During a worship service, some people will raise their hands to symbolize surrender to God.

Is this hummingbird just reaching forward in excitement for his next drink of sweet nectar? When I was able to attend a live game, fans raise their hands up to cheer when their team scores. Even when at home while watch a championship game, my friend had her own style of raising her arms up to cheer.

How often do we reach forward to grasp something and clumsily drop it? Consider the football player reaching for the ball during a pass and accidentally drops it. The ball was in his grasp. But something goes wrong, and the grip was lost. This hummingbird is fortunate that it does not have hands to hold onto anything. It just has the wings to hold upward and onward.

Do we have something to be excited about during these pandemic times? We can be grateful for this waiting period for COVID-19 to be resolved. Why should we be grateful for this time? We don’t know how long this waiting time will last before things become our new normal without the threat of catching this virus. There is a lot of uncertainty.

The only certainty is that we have to wait. Waiting means having a hope to reach forward and pray for solutions. We have not because we ask not. Reaching forward means we expect to receive something in our hands.

Can we reach forward in hope?

Photos Teach!

Who is that Masked Bird?

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Light creates interesting patterns and effects for photographs. Due to the change in the seasons, the light is best between 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The position of this hummingbird is getting the black shadow on his face with a backward “C” around his eye. The black shadow resembles a black mask on this hummingbird’s face.

One thing I enjoy about watching these creatures, who are visiting my garden, is their nonchalant persona. The hummingbird does not try to hide who he is. He shows himself as he really is. This bird is not afraid to show how much it likes the flower nectar. He flies from flower to flower and keeps drinking the nectar. Birds have no inhibitions. They know their purpose in life.

Man typically hides his insecurities, fears and anything else he does not like from other people. Being under a mask to pretend we are someone we are not makes it easier to face the world.

My wife is working from home. Like many others, she has meetings with groups of co-workers. Often times, the camera is turned off as they converse about work. Most people do not want to show they are working in their pajamas. Or they may not want to show their hair which has not been cut for a long time. Many are hiding what they look like since everyone is just staying at home.

Wanting to connect with other people at church, she participated in a virtual choir. A video file with the audio singing is required to be merged with the other singers’ files. It was difficult for her to see and hear herself in the videos. It took quite a few takes to create a halfway decent video and audio file.

Ironically, this could be how we approach showing ourselves to the world. Maybe we need to do more practices of life to improve and get out from behind our masks. Imperfection is ok.

I hope my photographs of birds, bees, butterflies or people would show their true individual essence. Yes, I want to capture a sharp and clear image. But a true artist is able to capture the expressions that show who the subject really is.

Photos reveal reality!

Greenback

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Here’s a real greenback of a hummingbird who visited me in my garden. These hummingbirds seem to recognize me now when they come to feast on my flowers’ nectar in my backyard. I try to be quiet not to scare of the birds. The birds are getting accustomed to seeing my big camera equipment. Initially, they were a little scared of the equipment.

A greenback is a slang term for the United States paper dollars issued during the American Civil War. This paper currency was not backed by gold or silver but only by the American government’s credibility.

I prefer the greenback on this hummingbird than the old time greenback reference. It is glossy and the color highlights the darker speckles. His wings are perfectly pointed out to the sides, as he approaches his next flower.

I do not utilize any software to change my photos. So the hummingbird’s greenback color is true to his actual appearance.

Being credible and true is important. We all should endeavor to be real and authentic. Nobody enjoys a false persona. I would not have wanted to utilize the original greenbacks. I would not have trusted this currency without any real value backing it.

My goal is shoot photographs which reveal true colors and the intricacies of the subjects.

Individuals may try to hide their true colors. But reality is usually revealed with bright lights.

Let’s try to be credible and real. If we are not content with our current reality, then let’s seek to improve and change.

This hummingbird has the best real greenback!

Photos teach reality!

Bright Guy

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I am not a guy who wears pinks or bright colors. I like darker colors. Male hummingbirds possess bright colors like this bird. Notice the scale pattern with the varying shades of purples, pinks and white from under his eye moving down to his wing. These are the colors my wife loves. It’s interesting how he has one wing forward and one wing going back.

Dreams should be pursued. I thought of this idea of shooting images of birds, butterflies, and bees almost 30 years ago. Due to this pandemic and SIP, I created my garden oasis and upgraded my camera equipment for this quest. I go to my yard for almost 2 hours around lunch time when the lighting is the best. I got a heavy duty chair that will hopefully hold me and my heavy equipment. Since I am in my yard, I do not worry about thieves coming behind me to steal my equipment. It’s already happened to me in the past. In the Bay Area, we’ve heard of many incidents where thieves steal camera equipment from individuals and filming crews.

New equipment means spending time to learn. One can only learn by trying and doing. I figured out how to use some new settings to make this bird look sharper and brighter. Practice does help to improve skills. Since I’ve figured out a schedule to shoot pictures due our pandemic situation, I’ve been practicing and am learning how to improve my photographs.

Please note my website is “untouchedtcphotos”. How did I come up with this name? These colors are not altered via any software program. These are the actual colors from my photo shoot. The picture has not been brightened. The picture has not been sharpened. By the way, “tc” refers to the initials of my name.

Dreams can be pursued even during a pandemic. Pursuing excellence in my photographic skills is my goal.

I hope my sharing these bright hummingbirds in my blog brings a little brightness to our SIP time at home. My bird watching and photography has helped to improve my disposition too.

Photos bring brightness!

This bug on my Head is bugging me

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I took these series of pictures and didn’t realize that a bug had crawled from the Cuphea Vermillionaire flower onto the Hummingbird’s beak until I reviewed the pictures on my computer. The bug had crawled from the beak to the head until it got near the Hummingbird’s eye ,and he shook the bug off. You can see the bug flying off in the last two pictures.

What does this bug on the head remind you of? This bird tried to continue feasting on the nectar regardless of the bug on his head. But that bug would not leave him alone. The bird had to finally shake his head to get rid of the pesky bug.

It was pretty interesting when Vice President Pence continued in the debate while the fly was on his head. Perhaps he was unaware the fly was there on his hair. He played cool to ignore the pesky fly and continue with his rhetoric. Observers had a good laugh watching the fly travel on the Vice President’s head. His patience with the fly did pay off where the fly finally left. Sometimes we shoo a fly away, and it keeps coming back to bother us.

What is our reaction when we are faced with a problem which is irritating and bugs us? Do we try to make it go away by shaking the problem away? Shooing a problem to make it go away may not be a permanent solution. Being patient to find an answer to a problem may take more time but is better than having the problem return.

How do you handle the bugs in your life? Do we try to shake off these bugs? Or do we patiently work on a solution.

Photos Teach!

 

Catching Fast Wings

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Bumblebees have super fast moving wings. I photographed at 1/8000 of a second and still could not freeze the motion of these wings! Can you imagine being that fast? It is interesting the orientation of the top wing. The bottom wing is a little blurred due to its quick movement.

This bee is also bent around the middle and his rear end is pointed down. This bee is getting ready to fly out. It was interesting how he stretched out before flying out. I never really paid attention how fuzzy Bumblebees are.

I am pretty amazed how fast the bee’s wings move. My challenge is to see if I can catch a sharp picture of the wings. Not sure if this is possible since I shot at 1/8000 of a second. It will depend if I can catch a bee who slows down a little. My bee’s wing photos show the wings mostly tucked under when they are not moving.

This pandemic has given many of us big challenges. Many challenges are from our circumstances and environment. We get stressed with the current increase of COVID cases. In California, we will be facing new stay at homes rules to follow. Many feel pandemic fever, but will have to deal with these feelings with the additional restrictions.

Since we all face this pandemic stress, I am learning I need to choose my own personal challenges. Shooting cool photographs of the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies is my challenge and goal. I am attempting to figure out a strategy for my garden photography to shoot these creature models. I purchased this perennial flowering plant at the Sloat Garden Center to help with my pollinating friends.

Choosing our own personal challenges as goals to achieve could be the answer to deal with the circumstantial challenges we face. None of us chose this pandemic life. This virus happened, and we need to live with these circumstances and consequences. But we can choose our own challenges to improve ourselves or our situations.

Photos Teach!

 

 

 

 

See my Face

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Butterflies are a little easier than hummingbirds to photograph. Hummingbirds are always on the move. Butterflies will take a short nap in my garden. They pause on the flower and do not rush around like the hummingbirds when they visit my backyard.

Since butterflies are not very big, I cannot see all their detail. Looking back at these pictures, I can take my time to examine the butterfly’s face by looking back at the photo. Do you notice the butterfly’s long tongue sucking on the flower nectar? Notice the butterfly’s fuzz. I love the long antennae. See the butterfly’s eyes.

The bright yellow orange and deeper orange colors of the 2 butterflies are pretty cool. I love their natural stripe designs on the wings.

How did I catch the butterfly’s face in the second photo? In photography terms, I shot with “select focus” meaning I focused to get a clear shot of the face. By doing this, the body behind the face was not as focused. So I selected what I wanted to focus on with my camera to get the clearer shot.

In our old life, we would see lots of people as we walked the street. We saw people at work. We see people on public transportation. But do we look into the faces of people to empathize or notice who they are? Do we see the faces of the people we live with to understand their problems and emotions? When we visit with family we do not live with or friends, do we examine their faces to see the hidden messages they do not want to talk about.

Let’s “select focus” to notice other people’s faces to understand who they are and empathize.

Photos Teach!