27 March 2011

Biggest Bear Yet

Despite not having a new or updated logo, BearWatch 2011 is already a success! Success in this case equals me getting to see a bear in my back yard. From a photographic standpoint, I'm trying to learn from my mistakes rather than continue to kick myself for them.

I've been a bit down for the count the past week so when the bear call came, I was not at my best. My first mistake was flipping the camera dial from manual to auto. I was afraid I'd miss out on shots by being too slow adjusting the settings.

As I framed up my first shot below, I debated whether or not to wait until the bear had cleared the sculpture. I decided it wasn't an issue because I could take multiple shots.

But then the camera decided it was too dark out and fired the flash.

A fucking eternity passed as I waited for the flash to recharge so I could subsequently shut it off and take more pictures. Time stamps on my photos say it was just a minute or two, but I lost my chance to photograph the bear in prime location. It was long enough for me to realize I could've changed my shutter speed and aperture several times over.

This is probably my cleanest shot of the bear this go round:

The other thing I forgot to take into account is that the camera typically opts for slow shutter speeds in low light. 1/8 of a second is not what you want if you want a sharp image of a moving subject. If I'd been paying attention to the shutter speed, I could've at least tried panning with the bear to keep him in better focus.

Nonetheless, I think this impressionistic bear photograph is my favorite:

In preparation for next time, I'm taking advantage of the fact that my camera will remember its last manual settings. My f-stop is wide open and my shutter speed is 1/250. I'd go to 1/500 to be sure to freeze the action, but chances are fair that the bear will turn up late or early in the day when it's darker out. If I have to go to a slower shutter speed I can, but I'll also know if it's worth giving panning with the subject a try. White balance I typically set but in this case, I'll take my chances with auto white balance to save myself the extra menu fumbling. Mainly I'm trusting myself to think quickly in the moment.

With any luck, the bear will stop by again sometime. If not though, that's OK. Last year I didn't see any bears, so I'm really happy I got the chance to see this one.

For better bear photographs I've taken in the past, check out:

  • Claire's Bears

  • I'll take a bear in my Easter basket any day

  • The moment I've been waiting for

  • To sum up

  • A year ago on TTaT: Pick me up flowers

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