Patio Adventures 2020 - We Are Being Watched
There are a lot of critters living in and around our patio and garden. The summer of 2020 gave us lots of time to observe up close, all natures activities and with camera in hand, try to capture these creatures in action.
In late Spring a pair of Mockingbirds set up their nest in a fire bush right next to the patio. For the next month or so as they tended to their chicks, any walking out on the patio was greeted with one or both adults squawking and darting around. They were very agitated and saw us as a threat to the young, in some cases we might even get "dive-bombed". While sitting on the patio, we could hear the chicks chirping loudly every time an adult returned to the nest with food.
Eventually the young fledglings got big enough to venture out and make some short practice flights. It wasn't long before they all went on their way and we could enjoy the patio without being intimidated by our loud little friends.
The Elusive Hummingbird
Every year we put out a Hummingbird feeder in the patio. In past years we would get 3-4 Hummingbirds that would feed several times a day. The Summer of 2020, we didn't see any Hummingbirds for a while, then eventually there would be just one visitor who would dart in, hover around the hibiscus, stop briefly at the feeder then disappear. This visitor would randomly appear.
The challenge was to try to photograph this elusive little guy. Setting the camera up by manually focusing on the spot of the feeder where I hoped to catch the shot, and setting for rapid burst mode, the camera was always with me as I sat patiently at the patio table. Every morning sitting with coffee for hours at a time hoping to catch a glimpse. Finally, on one sunny morning he came in and was feeding at the hibiscus plant. With camera in hand, I pointed at the feeder and hoped he would move there. He hovered briefly above the feeder then I clicked the shutter and, in a few seconds, got off about 24 frames. Finally! I got him!
The Money Shot
Lots of insects can be found everywhere and, in our garden, I found some interesting photo subjects. I do not have any dedicated macro photography equipment, so I used my regular camera (Nikon D-7100) with a general purpose 18-140mm lens to capture these close ups. I would take the photos from several feet away to get the best minimum focal distance of my lens. I then relied on post processing enlargement and sharpening using Adobe LightRoom and Topax Sharpen AI software.
Here Dragonflies are very numerous and they are very easy to photograph. It almost seems that they are posing and will stay still on a spot making them easy subjects. Bees, on the other hand, move around quite a bit, so are a bit more difficult to get a perfect shot.
One day while watering the herb plants, a large Praying Mantis was perched on the parsley plant. Started snapping some photos of this creepy looking, but interesting creature. As I move the camera around to get different angles, this critter would follow me with its eyes like it was sizing me up.