Some shots are skill. Some shots are patience. And some shots are just pure luck.
(Guess which one this was.)
The problem with the mountains is that seasons exist. And while this meant that I got to experience the relatively foreign sensation of cold (and the pleasures of camp fires, jackets, and fingers so numb I could barely press buttons on my camera), it also meant the sun set early: very, very early. 5:00 early.
But hey, was I looking at my watch most of the time? No. Was I checking my camera settings assiduously, making sure my shutter speeds were high enough to capture my ever-moving subjects?…No.
I’d been, quite literally, running after a mixed flock of birds, with a single Green-backed Finch and a few warblers, over hill and dale; hill because we were in the mountains, dale because we were in a valley in the mountains. They constantly eluded me; when I thought I could move into a good position to, if not photograph them, at least observe them, they would fly off to the next tree. Many was the time I clicked the photograph, only upon examining it to realize my subject had a done a runner on me literally milliseconds beforehand (some pictures had their (out-of-focus) tails disappearing out of a corner). While it could have been worse – the now-bare apple trees might have been in full foliage, providing a dense undergrowth in which photography would be impossible, compared to the pretty much nearly impossible it was now, the light was failing and I didn’t realize it.
So when this Grey-hooded Warbler, out of pity, perhaps, landed right in front of me, I clicked like a storm. Later, looking at the data, I realize just how lucky I was. With a depressingly low 1/80 second shutter speed, it’s wonder that any came clear at all; the ever-moving warbler simply decided it was my lucky day and held still long enough for me to get proof, at least, that I had seen it.