Sunday, October 05, 2008

Outshot at the Tam, I am

Laguna Tams. The grove of tamarisk trees along Laguna Road in Camarillo, California. For both my wife and I this place stands as a significant historical landmark. It was here back in October 2004 that my bird photography hobby was born. My then brand new bride (we were married the month before) encouraged me to take up birding once again after a long hiatus. I just learned that the Laguna Tams is an excellent place to visit during the fall migration. Indeed it was, for warblers and vireos were everywhere. Out of impulse, I decided to bring my son's Canon film camera with a 70-200 zoom lens attached to it. One of the birders there who was also taking pictures noticed the camera I was using. "Time to go digital", he said and went on extolling the virtues of digital photography, even showing me the gorgeous shots of a warbler he had taken just a few minutes earlier. A week later I purchased my very first digital SLR, a Canon 300D.
After the 300D I had gotten a 20D, a much faster, more technically advanced camera. Which was then eventually replaced by the 30D in September, 2006. On our 2nd wedding anniversary, Cynthia and I once again visited the Tams. I wanted to take my spanking brand new 30D with the 500mm telephoto lens for a field test there. I told my wife that if she wanted to, she can use my "old" 20D with the 300mm lens. She said, "Why not?" and the rest, they say, is history.

Whenever we go on our bird photography trips, we have an agreement: If there are plenty of birds around, we usually shoot at different subjects to get the most number of species. If we are shooting at the same subject, especially if it is a rare species or a lifer, we usually shoot at different angles to get as much coverage of the subject as possible. It has never been a competition between us, rather we compliment each other to get the utmost in our bird photography experiences. In a number of occasions, however, my wife had gotten better shots than I did. Which is quite interesting, as I am the more "technical" shooter, fussing over ambient lighting and shutter speeds and f-stops and all that photography gobbledygook. She is more of a "point-and-shooter". But more patient and has steadier arms, I suppose.

And that was the case again this morning at our beloved Laguna Tams. The weather was really crappy - dark clouds with the threat of rain. The birds were few and far between. Thankfully, there were a handful of Townsends Warblers that gave some brief photo ops. Cynthia and I were about 50 feet apart from each other shooting at two different Townsends. After I uploaded the pictures when we got back home, the results were resoundingly in her favor.



and even posed again facing the opposite way!

What is even more intriguing was that I was shooting at ISO-1600 (really bad lighting, remember?) using a 40D with a 300mm prime lens and a 1.4 extender while she was at ISO-400 with a 30D and 100-400 zoom!

Ain't my wife grand?

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