Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gold Finch Images At Last

Black Thistle Filled Sock
It has been some time since I replaced the thistle sock outside my breakfast room window.  If you have been following my posts for the sock you will know that I emptied one sock, tried to stain it with tea and coffee to bring down the whiteness of it in photographs.  The drawstring on that one broke and I bought a new bag of thistle seeds.  I emptied the sock which had overwintered and was full of stale seed, refilling it with fresh seed.  Since I hung that newly filled sock, I haven't seen any gold finches feeding there.  They either don't know the location of the sock or are shy of its placement near the window.  In any case I did see a gold finch recently and it flew away as soon as I approached the window.  Several weeks have elapsed and within the last few days I have seen two and three gold finches on the sock at one time.  But, they still flew at my approach to the window.  I needed to change something.

My breakfast room window is large.  It is three single windows arranged in a bay.  Each window is 6', 1.8288m tall and together close to that wide.  Each window has wooden blinds of its own.  I lowered all of the blinds to the bottom of the window.  I rotated the left one closed, the middle and right blinds were angled down about 45º from the horizon.  Now I could see the bird bath and the thistle sock and had some cover from their sight.  At least that was what I thought.  The gold finches still flew if I approached the window quickly.

Again I needed to make a change.  This time I had my camera in hand and approached the bay from the left side, behind the completely closed blind.  Before I started towards the window on the right I checked my camera settings.  ISO-400, aperture priority exposure chosen, aperture set at f22, white balance-full sun, zoom lens fully extended and set to manual focus.  I could see the finches through the blinds of the middle window set at 45º.  I waited until the finch was behind the sock and almost out of my view.  I sneaked up to the right window closest to the sock and stood there, unmoving.  The finch looked around the sock and at me and didn't fly.  It went back to feeding.  I raised my camera and pushed the blind slats open enough to allow the barrel of the lens to be free of viewing obstructions.  Again, the finch stopped pulling seeds out of the sock and looked at me. Again it didn't fly.  I checked the camera again.   The lens on manual focus and aperture priority @ f22.  I chose this because I was using the zoom lens at its maximum length which compresses the depth of view and I wanted as much in focus as possible in case of movement of the bird towards or away from the camera.  I chose manual focus because the AF might not choose the spot I will choose manually.  At each touch of the shutter I held my breath to diminish the possibility of camera shake.  I finally captured some decent images of a gold finch feeding on the thistle sock.

If I hadn't been able to capture any images of the gold finches, my next step was to cover the right window with newspapers leaving a hole large enough for the lens only.  My wife would not allow that to stay up for long.

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