Monday, August 14, 2006

Man of Steele

The Kern County Birding Group in Yahoo announced that they are having a "Hummingbird Festival" on Saturday, August 12th. Part of this program is a workshop on photographing hummingbirds which will be conducted by Bob Steele. Bob is a foremost bird photographer in the country and have had his photographs featured in all Birding and Nature magazines around. He is also the moderator of the Avian section Nature Photographers Network of which I am also a card-carrying member.

I emailed Bob earlier in the week asking him for the better route to get to the Kern River Preserve (KRP). We've been there before and we took the longer way through Bakersfield and came home using a different way through the Kelso Creek Road. This was where we got into a lot of trouble because the road is unpaved and traverses a across the mountains. We were still driving the Saturn sedan at that time and although we got home in one piece, it was the most nerve-wracking trip we have undertaken. So when Bob suggested to take Route 14 and then Hwy 178, and with our Jeep thoroughly checked-up and maintained (costing me $680.00), we decided to give it a try.

We got up early - around 4:30 am and were on the road by 5:20. We arrived at KRP at around 9:00 am after a short pit stop at McDonalds in Rosamond, a city on Route 14 just before the turn off at Hwy 178.

There were already a lot of people gathered for the festival, all of them white and many of them senior citizens. Bob Steele was already there setting up flowers next to a hummingbird feeder explaining that that is the way of getting hummingbird pictures in a "natural" setting. So I attended his workshop along with a dozen or more photographers which lasted for a little over an hour.

All this time, Cynthia was regaling the other non-photography-oriented birders with tales of our birding/photography adventures and even showed them my "portfolio".

After the workshop, Bob and I talked shop and I am just awed at how friendly and knowledgeable he is. We shook hands as he hauled his equipment and prepared to leave. Cynthia and I ate our "baon", loaded up some gas in town and headed home.