Here are some more images I made during this years warbler migration. I have to say that we really never did have a great fallout day of warblers this year. A fallout day is when you get a large arrival of migrating warblers that have been blown into an area. This often happens when there is a low pressure area south of us which then spins birds up to us on southerly winds (the birds take advantage of these winds to help them on their journey north). This year that never really happened. The winds seemed to be out of the north during most of May. This caused the birds to just kind of dribble through on their way north. But fortunately, I was able to spend a large amount of time out in the field this year and I was able to put together a collection of images that I am very pleased with.
Here is a photograph of a black and white warbler. This particular individual was a very handsome specimen. Most of the black and whites I see look a little scruffy, this guy was feather perfect.
Black and White Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler with Worm
This flashy fellow is a blackburnian warbler which is always a crowd pleaser with bird watchers
Blackburnian Warbler in Song
Soon I will be leaving for a trip to the Galapagos Islands and the cloud forests of Ecuador. In the Galapagos, I hope to photograph the amazing plants and animals of this unique island habitat. I will be bringing my high-speed flash setup to the cloud forest to attempt to photograph hummingbirds on the wing. Ecuador is home to 130 of the worlds 328 species of hummingbirds, hopefully I will be able to get a crack at one or two of them.
At last it’s May. I have to say I have been looking forward to May ever since last May. You see, May is the time when tiny colorful birds called warblers grace our local woodlots for a few weeks, as they migrate north. Last May, was the first time I ever attempted to photograph these tiny birds and I was immediately hooked. Warbler photography is extremely challenging for a lot of reasons. First of all, warblers are generally very small about the size of a chickadee (about 4″ long). Secondly, they are in constant motion as they search for small insects on which they feed (imagine a two year old child with wings after two cups of coffee). All of these challenges are compounded by the fact that warblers are usually in the woods where there is very little light. They spend there time picking insects from all the leaves which also hide the birds making it very hard to get a clear view of one of these birds. It is low percentage shooting, I would estimate that I take a few hundred pictures of warblers for every truly good one I get.
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Here is a more stylistic image of a warbler, a blackpoll, I really like the implied motion in this image.
Yellow Warbler in Song
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited down to Knoxville Tennessee to put on my multi-media presentation “A Wilderness Year” for the Southern Appalachian Nature Photographers Association. While I was down in that area, I was able to get a few days shooting in at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We really hit the weather lottery the first couple of days. It is funny most people think us photographers want bright sunny days for photography but the truth is we want different types of light for different subjects. In the Smokies, I was interested in shooting the wildflowers that were in full bloom. For that subject matter, the best conditions are bright hazy overcast conditions with intermittent light rain. This super saturates the colors and lends a nice soft even light in the hardwood forests where many of the spring wildflowers grow. We were also blessed with very light winds which is also important because often in overcast conditions it is not uncommon to shoot a 2 to 4 second exposure. Obviously if my subject is blowing in the wind during that exposure it will ruin the shot.
After a grey winter spent in Michigan, it can be pretty overwhelming to be confronted with so much green virtually overnight. It is funny, many times out in the spring woods it seems as if you can actually hear everything around you growing.
A Symphony in Green
There are many places in the park where the ground was literally carpeted in wildflowers. Featured in this next image is yellow trillium, purple phacelia, and large-flowered trillium.
A Wildflower Carpet
The other benefit of these slow shutter speeds I spoke of earlier, is that they allow running water to be rendered as a silky blur. In the image below, the shutter was open for a full three seconds. This allows the air bubbles trapped in the flowing water to paint themselves as a milky white blur. A friend I was travelling with found these violets growing in front of this small fall. I really like the way the violets mimic the shape of the main part of the falls. I shot this with a wide angle lens my lens ended up being less than six inches away from the flowers. The toughest part of this shot was getting enough depth of field (the area of sharpness in a photo) to keep everything sharp.
Waterfall and Violets
We even got lucky with a black bear one evening.
King of the Smokies–Black Bear