Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

More Hummingbird Photography From Anza Borrego Desert State Park

©Bert Gildart: As my hummingbird photographs suggest, the tiny young are on the verge of fledging. I’ve been following them here in Anza Borrego Desert State Park for over a week and for these tiniest but most metabolic of all birds things obviously happen fast. I’m also posting these as experiments have provided a better technique for lighting these tiny birds.


Improved photo techniques accomplished using two strobes

Seven days ago, there was only a suggestion of life from these several-inch-deep nests, but now, each time the adult returns (and that’s about every 20 minutes) the young thrust themselves high, sometimes onto the edge of the nest.

One of the young, in fact, is even testing out its wings, and I suspect one day soon now, it will elevate itself above the edge of the nest. A day or so later, it will launch itself on a maiden flight, probably to return, however, at least for awhile, to the security of the nest. I’d like to see all that, but alas, I believe we must soon be moving on.


As mentioned in a previous blog, photographing these tiny birds is challenging. There is a yellow ribbon that attempts to keep back curious visitors. That’s great, but it means one must use a long telephoto lens, and that creates a shallow depth of field.

On digital cameras, you can crank up the ISO, and I’ve found I can easily go as high as 400 without an apparent lose in image quality. That enables me to stop down my aperture and still retain a high enough shutter speed to arrest the quick movements of the parent as she thrusts her beak from one of the two young to the other.

But an even better technique is to use two strobes and set the camera to manual. So doing, I then adjust the shutter speed to 250 of a second and the f stop to f22. As well I backed off on the camera-mounted strobe by 2/3 of a stop. That lessened the light on the white branch in the foreground, and helped darkened the background. I hand held the other SB-800 strobe high, creating small shadows. The narrow aperture also improved depth of field, critical with such tiny subjects.


Sadly, the other hummingbird in the other nest, which I included in a post made last week, has disappeared, nest and all.


Hummingbird young about ready to fledge

When I asked one of the park’s naturalists what had happened, he informed me that an ADULT (that’s a person-type adult) was seen examining the bird’s tiny egg in his hand. To me, that is criminal!


Over the years, we have stayed in Anza Borrego a number of times. In fact, the first chapter in a book I did on Big Horn Sheep began with an anecdote provided me by Superintendent Mark Jorgenson. Regretfully, he was out of his office when I stopped in today, visiting a new sister park in the Gobi Desert of southeastern Mongolia known as Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. That park preserves the Argali sheep (Ovis ammon), which like the Peninsular bighorn of Anza Borrego, is also threatened.

Regretfully, too, it may be another year before we see devoted Anza Borrego visitors Steve and Linda and Manfred and Anna. Steve and Linda once cycled from coast to coast. Manfred and Anna are emigrants from Germany and last year, when our Airstream sustained high-wind damages, Manfred donated his skills as a retired airplane mechanic to our repairs.

Our next big stop is Padre Island in Texas, but we’ll be making lots of stops along the way.



*Remember the Alamo


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