Shooting with Lady Luck

Without question there is a skill component in photography. Understanding our gear, lighting, composition and post processing are all important ingredients when creating images. Photography captures specific moments in time and on occasion it can be extremely helpful when Lady Luck is on our side. Most of us can remember particular instances when we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture an image. Maybe it was the expression on a child’s face. A rainbow. Or perhaps one of those sunsets that can simply take our breath away. On occasion Lady Luck has ridden shotgun with me, sometimes when capturing nature images.

For example, during my recent week long trip to Cuba I had only noticed two hummingbirds during my entire stay. Both times I was too far away from them and did not have my camera correctly set to capture a useable image.

On the afternoon of my last day in Cuba I met some bird enthusiasts who directed me to a spindly, flowering tree a bit off the beaten path at the resort. They told me that they had observed a few hummingbirds at this one tree sporadically during the previous few days so I hoped that these elusive, little birds would show up during the final few minutes of my Cuban holiday.

Shortly after I arrived at the recommended tree I took up a position with the sun at my back so I’d have the best chance of a good exposure. Even though it was a very bright, sunny afternoon I set my Nikon 1 V2 to ISO-400 to get a faster shutter speed with the hopes of freezing the wing motion on the hummingbird. As if on cue, a single Cuban Emerald Hummingbird arrived and flitted around for about 90 seconds, then quickly disappeared, but not before I was able to grab the following image.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge

NIKON 1 V2 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/2000, f/6.3
NIKON 1 V2 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/2000, f/6.3

Unfortunately I must have inadvertently nudged the aperture setting on my V2 and ended up shooting this at f/6.3 rather than f/5.6 as I had planned, and I lost a bit of shutter speed as a result.

During a trip to New Zealand in late 2013 we went on a coastal boat tour to observe some sea birds and marine mammals. I didn’t even notice the bloodied, female sea lion in the background of this photo that two bulls had been fighting over until I was back home processing some images.

NIKON 1 V2 + VR 70-200mm f/4G @ 200mm, ISO 160, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + VR 70-200mm f/4G @ 200mm, ISO 160, 1/500, f/5.6

Early one summer morning I was on a cement pier in Grimsby harbour trying to get a few shots of sea gulls and terns. The water was eerily calm, almost like glass, which is very unusual for Lake Ontario. As I walked up the pier a few gulls spread their wings and dropped off the pier, and began gliding away. I captured this reflected image by pure chance. It remains one of my wife’s favourites.

NIKON D7000 + NIKKOR 70-200 f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/2500, f/6.3
NIKON D7000 + NIKKOR 70-200 f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/2500, f/6.3

Another holiday morning I was out for a walk on my way to try to get some images of sea birds while in Nelson, New Zealand. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small, flash of colour dart towards a tree. I wheeled around quickly and got this shot of a kingfisher which was totally unexpected and unplanned. A couple of seconds later it was gone. My Nikon 1 V2 with FT-1 adapter, Nikkor 70-200 f/4 with Nikkor 1.7X teleconverter is far from the sharpest combo to shoot with, but it did allow me to get this shot at an efov of 918mm at f/6.7.

NIKON 1 V2 + NIKKOR 70-200 f/4 with 1.7X teleconverter @ 340mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/6.7
NIKON 1 V2 + NIKKOR 70-200 f/4 with 1.7X teleconverter @ 340mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/6.7

As mentioned in my Photographing Heron in Cuba article, I happened to be in the process of photographing a Great Blue Heron when it caught a fish, along with some marsh debris. As the bird fiddled trying to dislodge the debris and not lose its catch, it allowed me some additional time to capture a number of images.

NIKON 1 V2 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/5.6

Has Lady Luck helped you with any images? If so, please share some of your stories!

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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written permission.

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