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Hummingbirds

Well, I got some new pictures of hummingbirds for you guys.

...that's right, hummingbirds.

I had a private student this morning in Laguna Beach and during the lesson, he snapped some amazing pictures of hummingbirds while I stood by to lend my expertise. There were tons of them! It was the first sunny day we've had in awhile here in So Cal and I think they were out in droves gorging themselves after fasting through the days of rain.

I had some time to kill after the lesson before my next student's appointment, so I thought I'd try my hand at photographing some hummingbirds myself. I haven't done wildlife in awhile and I definitely don't consider myself a wildlife photographer, but his shots got me all jazzed up to break out the telephoto. One of the perks of being a photography teacher: inspiration from my students.

Best I can tell from some online research, the hummingbirds I had in my sights were Allen's Hummingbirds (selasphorus sasin). The coloring on the males is absolutely stunning. The iridescent copper coloring on their throats glowed like a beacon in the daylight. It would even shift to a rich, red color depending on how the light hit is. Beautiful contrast with the green on their backs and white on their chests.

I thought this above shot was kind of funny with him looking right at me, but it also shows his color the best.

Compare the coloring of the male above to the female below.

Hummingbirds are tough to photograph because they move so quickly. The good thing about them, though, is that they are pretty fearless. I guess knowing you're the fastest gun in the west can make you pretty confident. This fearlessness means I could get pretty damn close to them with my 200mm lens without scaring them off. The auto focus on my 5D (mark I) is pathetic, so I ended up manually focusing for most of the shots. Worked much better than I thought it would...

So there you have it! Thanks for stopping by!

Back to Thousand Steps Yet Again

I returned yet again to Thousand Steps beach in Laguna last night. This time, it was with a private student for an on-location lesson. We went to the cave that I mentioned in my previous post and made our way through. The tide was low, but still higher than last time, which made getting through quite a bit more difficult. Compounded with the sharp, slippery rocks and the darkness later on, we had a hell of a time getting there.

The shot below is the one I really wanted to get last time, but wasn't able to pull it off. This time went a little better. I learned from my previous experience, knew where to put myself and figured out how to get decent exposure in both the foreground and background.

Thousand Steps Cave

I wanted to include a bit of the ceiling of the cave off to the right of the frame in order to show that I was in a cave and not just on the open shore. The reflections in the tide pools helped bring some light to the dark foreground and some split NDs allowed me to get the sky in range for the exposure. Lucky for me, the moon drifted in to the perfect spot just in time.

I also snapped a silhouette of my student getting her pictures of the sunset. Extra points to her for not giving up despite the extraordinarily tough trek into the cave.

Thousand Steps Cave

No doubt I'll be returning several times to come in order to master this location. It's one of the toughest I've shot in for awhile!

Cave Exploration

I went down to Thousand Steps in Laguna Beach again this past Saturday to check out a really awesome cave that you can only get into at low tide. I'd seen it from the outside before, but had never been through it. Luckily the tide was low enough to permit entrance this time and, I must say, it was really awesome. Nothing like your typical So Cal scenery. The only photo I came home with was the following mediocre shot from outside the cave. Words won't do this place justice, so I intend to return several times in the future to better document it.

Laguna Beach