“Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker”
“After years of honing my skills as a photographer, the phrase “Timing is Everything” still holds true.” – Ed Lehming
Over the years I have deliberately practiced preparedness. I’ve gotten familiar with my cameras and lenses. I know what each can and can’t do effectively and I have learned through many failures how to shoot in different lighting conditions, and in all sorts of weather. Why? Because unpreparedness is how once ina lifetime phots are lost.
While the photo I chose for today is not a once in a lifetime shot, it’s still very pleasing and I would not have been able to make it had I not been prepared and aware of my setup’s limitations.
I’m not generally a wildlife photographer and I don’t spend hours in wait for some of the fantastic shots made by my fellow photographers who specialize in this genre of photography have produced. I’m more of an opportunist; I like to capture the experiences that I have while out hiking or traveling. This also means I have to be ready for anything that presents itself, in this case, a beautiful woodpecker.
I had just about concluded my 6.5 km hike through Uxbridge Ontario’s, North Walker Woods, documenting the early spring blooms. I paused along the trail, satisfied with my collection of photos, took a drink of water from my water bottle, and slid my camera back into my pack, ready to hike out to the trailhead. The moment I took a step forward I heard the sound of a woodpecker calling close by. As I turned around, I saw this Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker in a tree mere meters from me and only a few meters up the trunk, a rare occurrence. I moved slowly to get my camera out of my bag. Since I was out to shoot wildflowers, the lens was my 90mm macro lens. The nice thing with this lens is that at 90mm it does offer me some level of zoom and has an extraordinarily quick focus. Not the ideal lens for this situation, but it made the shot possible. After a few quick setting changes, I was ready to shoot.
This all took about 15 seconds and serves as an example of understanding your gear and how to react when an opportunity presents itself. In the end, I was able to get about five good shots before the woodpecker noticed me and took off. Do I wish I had my 70-200mm with me? Sure, I could have had an even better shot, but you have to work with what you have and I’m pleased with the outcome.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200
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