Sparrow on the edge

bird

SIX WEEKS AGO we returned from a two-night visit to San Miguel de Allende, which is about a three-hour drive northeast of here.

During our stay in that artsy Gringo town that rests prettily in the desert we drove a short distance north to Dolores Hidalgo and paid about 30 bucks for this spectacular birdbath.

On returning to the Hacienda, I set up the birdbath in the same spot where another bath, totally brown and drab but hugely popular, had sat for a decade. The birds ignored the psychedelic bath.

This went on for a couple of weeks. They would perch nearby, on one of the web chairs or up on the pumpkin wall, looking at their new bath, but they would not take the plunge.

But finally they came to their little birdy senses. However, it still isn’t as popular as the old, boring birdbath was. I haven’t seen any birds on its colorful rim save house sparrows, but that could be because it’s not springtime when the birdy array is wider.

Particularly noteworthy in their absence are the grackles, and I do not miss them. They stood in the middle of the old bath and splashed most of the water out with their big, fowl wings, like little, angry chickens.

May they never return.

I shot this photo with my new camera. Contrast it to the photo taken six weeks back with my far older camera. The new camera is clearly superior, but I’ve been thinking of selling it.

It does not fit in my pocket. It’s too big. I offered the camera on two Yahoo forums that focus on my area. No bites. No matter. The day after I offered it, I had already started to waffle on the issue.

It does take great photos.

19 thoughts on “Sparrow on the edge”

  1. That is a nice picture – the bird’s colors echo those on the bird bath – like the bird bath was made for that bird. What camera setting do you find yourself using the most on your new camera? Also, do you think about composition when you take a picture? How do some photographers create a work of art, while others just take a picture? Before I became more serious about photography, if I took a good picture it was in spite of my ignorance about composition and camera settings. I still take a lot of mediocre photos, but occasionally I take some that are really good.

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    1. Bonnnie: You made me giggle (in a good way). What camera setting do I use?

      It’s called Auto.

      Okay, I admit I have also figured out how to steady a long shot and how to make photos black & white and sepia, plus a few other such options. But I can do those things, probably better, on the simple photo app I use. Fotor.

      After those many years in the newspaper business, I do composition very well. Alas, so many people do not, which I do not understand. It seems common sense to me.

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      1. My son has been in the newspaper business for a number of years and started out developing pictures in a dark room after all the reporters had dropped off their film at night. (I know, this makes me appear very old, but I started my family when I was but a child). I had taken some pictures for his newspaper a couple of years ago and he said that they were okay, but did I not care about the subject matter? He gave me a few tips and I ordered a course (I think I mentioned, by the National Geographic photographer) and my pictures did improve. Yes, I agree that some people have a natural ability to “see” better than others. However, I think that good composition skills and technical competency can be learned by those that lack natural ability. Don’t you want to know how the aperture setting or shutter speed works or how the quality of light affects your photos? What if the same bird picture had been taken in a softer light, or at dusk? I am struggling with how to take photos at night – the “auto” setting is not adequate.

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        1. Bonnie: Yes, I would love to know those things, aperture setting and shutter speeds. I just lack the energy to mess with them, especially when — so far — the photos look fine to me. Down the line I may delve further into the issues, but I know myself. I am truly lazy.

          Frequent commeter here, Kim G., has tried to point me to all manner of learning founts. He means well, but he does not know the level of my shiftlessness. Plus, I am very easily pleased. If something looks pretty good, I can live with it, especially if the alternative consists of numbers and high-tech stuff. Zzzzzzzzz.

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  2. Looking thru my eyeballs, both pictures look quite sharp. If both were taken from the same vantage point it would be easier to comment on the composition comparison though.

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    1. Jeff: The megapixels on both cameras are identical: 16. So they are both sharp, at least enough for me. I’m no purist. Where the Canon wins by a mile is the zoom: 45 (or up to about 85 if I want to go digital, which I do not) vs. 3.

      Exactly why I do not know, but I don’t think I would ever have gotten a photo like this one with the old camera. Maybe it’s the zoom, but you can get pretty close to sparrows on foot. They are not chicken birds.

      You receive your new camera yet?

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      1. No, I will order the camera on Saturday from Amazon MX for $1259 pesos delivered. The best price on Amazon USA for the same camera (Canon PowerShot ELPH 160) equates to around $1660 pesos so I like the price. However, I was so excited to get a mop bucket with a big honkin’ wringer, but it turns out that item came from the USA and the duty and shipping were more than the item itself. So, I’ll just keep on wringing by hand for the time being.
        🙂

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        1. Jeff: You gotta mop?! Aren’t you married to a Mexican? With a Mexican wife, you never have to mop. Iron either.

          I looked at your camera on Amazon last week. Looks nice. Probably what I should have bought at the get-go. My primary concern was to get more zoom, and that ELPH has almost three times the zoom of my old Kodak.

          Yep, the current killer exchange rate now makes it cheaper to buy here in pesos some of the time. Haven’t enjoyed that very often. I like it.

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          1. No, mi esposa de 34 años es americano. So, I’ve agreed to help out a bit. Wringing out the ole mop by hand helps keep the hands limber anyway.

            I need a camera that will give me a nice quality image to attach to emails and has that ever important “auto” setting that you mention above. Plus, I like the compactness of this Canon. My brother is a camera buff and takes some really nice photos. He uses a big Nikon and has a big bag and a vest with many pockets to carry around extra lenses, a tripod etc. A great hobby, but just not for me.

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            1. Felipe: I just went to Amazon MX to order my camera and they have gone up on the price to almost double of the previously advertised price. They show the old price until you go to checkout then they hit you with the increase. So….I’ll look around to see what may be available elsewhere.

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              1. Dang, Jeff. The ole bait-and-switch. Pathetic. A friend has recommended something similar, but it’s not available on the Mexican Amazon. The Panasonic Lumix DMC FH5. There are other Lumix models about the same size, and they don’t cost a fortune. Alas, the Mexican Amazon, though they are listed, say they are not currently available, none of them. I’ll be looking at Costco and Best Buy, but I don’t know if those stores are near you.

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            2. Jeff: Don’t know where I got it into my noggin that your wife is Mexican. Do forgive.

              We are of one mind about lugging around a ton of camera gear. Ain’t gonna happen.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: Precisely, and I currently have that, but I want a better smaller camera. I’ll likely order what Jeff is getting, or I’ll go by Best Buy to look at what you recommended.

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  3. Hola Felipe! I’m pretty sure you could return your camera to Amazon for full credit. Size and heft are my biggest “issues” with my DSLR, and I keep thinking of trying to get something smaller. Frankly, for years I took great pictures with a Canon G3, one of their early, high-end point-and-shoot cameras, that also happened to have full manual control too. Alas, it died, victim of a sticking zoom function.

    Have you checked out kenrockwell.com? He has terrific recommendations for point and shoot cameras, along with more professional gear.

    Also, I have three, very simple recommendations for folks who want to take better pictures. One: when photographing people outdoors during the day, use the flash anyway. It will fill in shadows and make faces look better. Two: buy a polarizing filter and whatever you need to attach it to your camera. As you rotate the filter, you can darken the sky which helps landscape shots tremendously. Three: buy a split neutral density filter. This is a piece of glass where the top half is dark gray and the bottom half is clear. This prevents overexposure of sky in outdoor shots. You might be able to get away with only one of #2 or #3, and if you do, go for the split neutral density filter as it will darken anything, while the polarizing filter pretty much only works on sky.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we continue to believe that beyond a certain point the camera is the least important part of the equation.

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    1. Kim: I’ve decided to hold on to this big mutha and continue to tote my Kodak in my little man-bag. In due time, I’ll upgrade the Kodak to something newer with a better zoom, likely the Panasonic Lumix that Ms. Shoes has highly recommended. And I’ll take a look at Ken Rockwell. As for all those filters, hmmm, we’ll see. Sounds like lots of extra stuff to lug about.

      Interesting about the flash out in broad daylight. I do believe you, but it sounds irrational, which is why I never have used a flash outdoors in the daytime. Live and learn, I say.

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      1. Hola Felipe: One thing occurred to me last night. If your Kodak can take accessory filters (might require an adaptor), then it can likely take an accessory lens that would convert your zoom from 1x-3x to 2x -6x. You might look into that too. Though not as handy as a camera that just has a better zoom, it could be a cheap way for you to get better far-off shots from the Kodak without buying a whole new camera.

        By the way, I was surprised at how close the quality was between the old camera and the new camera. The old camera’s photo quality was quite good. How old is it?

        Also, you should consider reducing the resolution of your photos before uploading them to WordPress. My own personal standard for blog photos is 6″x4″ at 200 pixels per inch. Saved with a medium amount of JPEG compression (usually #7 or 8 on a quality scale that ranges from 1 to 12), that results in a file size of ~160 KB. That’s enough resolution for people who click on the image to see all the relevant details, and more than enough for in-line photos.

        There are a couple of good benefits to lowering the resolution. First, you make your own web pages load much faster. Second you don’t spend so much time uploading photos, and third, you save a lot of storage space on WordPress. For example, with ~83ish posts on my site (much more photo-heavy than yours) I’m still only using ~3% of my WordPress storage allotment. The other (minor) benefit is that no one will be able to swipe a high-resolution copy of one of your photos and make a poster out of it. Saludos!

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        1. Kim: Both the old Kodak and the new Canon do 16 megapixels which, as I understand it, has much to do with photo quality. Yes, I have long been happy with the Kodak except for the lame zoom. As for adding a better zoom, I think I’ll just wait and buy a newer pocket camera in the not-distant future.

          How old is the Kodak? I am clueless. As I age, I definitely notice time flying, which also makes my guesses on how far back something happened often way wrong. I might say the Kodak is three or four years old, but it might very well be seven, literally.

          When I moved down here 15 years ago, I bought a little Fuji Finepix. A few years later, I bought another Finepix. I liked them. Then I bought the Kodak Easyshare.

          As for all that additional tech talk, it looks like work to me! But I admire your incredible persistence in delivering it to me. You’re amazing.

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