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Out in the Field – Failed at the 5 P’s

January 5, 2014
Yellow-rumped Warbler

© – Yellow-rumpted Warbler

Hopefully this morning’s shooting is not a harbinger of things to come this year.  I had a problem with the 5 P’s this morning.

As I write this evening I am recovering from what was the standard whirlwind trip to San Angelo, Texas, for some family business.  My appointed time to be in San Angelo was supposed to be high noon so I looked at this as an opportunity to make a slight detour and shoot at South Llano River SP, near Junction, Texas, for a couple of hours.  Or that was what I was thinking last night.

For my new readers to the blog, the 5 P’s states simply that “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”  I used to go with the 6 P’s but my 6th P is not a word that is appropriate for a blog of this type.  Others drop in a 7th P for “Prior” (wedged between Proper and Planning), but I’ve always thought planning occurs in the past.  If you’re planning at the time things are happening you are acting, not planning.  If you’re planning after things have happened you’re not really planning, you’re doing post-performance assessment for the next time you go out and thus effectively planning prior to doing it again.  But I digress.

The cold that has been lingering with me since right before the New Year’s holiday made my sleep uncomfortable and when I woke up at a little before 4 AM, I thought to myself, “Self–you set the alarm for 5 AM… try to get another hour of shut-eye.”

And I did set the alarm that goes off at 5 AM.  But that alarm won’t go off until Tuesday morning at 5AM.  So when I woke up a little before 6AM I was none too happy with myself.  A quick shower and I was on the road by 6:30AM.  5P’s failed.

This got me to South Llano River SP around 8:30AM.  Drat.  Lost 30 minutes of possible shooting time to the Mr. Sandman.  After taking care of getting my permit for the park I hustle down to the Acorn blind near the park’s main campgrounds.

So I get into my spot, open the window, and catch a blast of arctic air.  What don’t I have with me on this trip?  Gloves or a warm hat.  Thankfully the coat has a hood and it does a decent job of keeping my cranium for turning into a block of ice.  But no gloves equals cold hands.  5 P’s failed.  Again.

Then about 5 minutes into the shooting I realize, “I haven’t started GPS4CAM.”  Which means that location data is not being recorded for this shoot.  Thankfully when I processed these this evening that the 5 minute delay was not enough to cause a problem and all of the images were GPS encoded.  5P’s failed.  Again.

Northern Cardinal

© – Northern Cardinal

And then about 80 shots into the shoot I chimp one of my shots to check my histogram and it is blown out.  And I mean blown out.  So I look closer in my viewfinder and I see what I think is my exposure compensation and it  is way out of whack.  And then I look carefully and notice that the problem is that the camera is telling me I am blowing my exposure but I am because I’m in Manual mode rather than Aperture Priority.  Either I didn’t check the camera before I started shooting or upon putting it on the tripod I pushed it into the wrong mode.  5P epic failure.

Okay, the good news.  Most of the early shots were of species that frankly I have too many shots of:  Northern Cardinals and Field Sparrows.  And even at that, the images that were decent are saveable so it could have been much worse.

And once the mechanics of making images got sorted out, the rest of the shots (the next 200) weren’t too bad.  The highlight of the morning, of the little time I was out there, was a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata).  I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a decent shot of this bird (colloquially known to some birders as a “Honey Butt” for their yellow posterior),  and today’s was pretty darned good.  I also had some decent luck with Northern Cardinals, White-winged Doves, Field Sparrows, and Black-throated Sparrows.  Titmice were also present, but they were being their cantankerous selves and I did not get a single image of one (though I did get a couple of images of where they had been perched, sans Titmouse).

After about an hour of being there, I had the push of the clock to get me up the road and the push of wanting to defrost my fingers.  The wind was picking up pretty bad as it was and with another cold front coming through it was a good time to get out before they had to chisel me out of the chair.  So away I rolled up to San Angelo to take care of that business and make a super quick roll through the state park there.  Nothing significant to report in this blog.  I may have to get my Bird Blind Blog rolling again to discuss what I found there (it was good…for a change…).

Shoot #1 for 2014 in the books.  Let’s hope the rest go easier than this one…

About the Images:
The Yellow-rumped Warblers were not being cooperative.  There were probably 3-4 of them in the blind area at any given time, but not a one of them wanted to stay still for very long.  This particular shot (with the mechanics working) was ISO 400, 1/320 sec at f/8.  The male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was one of my “recovered” shots.  Originally this shot was a little more than a full f-stop over-exposed.  Thank you, Lightroom, for making a disaster into something almost presentable.  ISO 400, 1/100 sec at  f/6.3 was what the camera used for this (and the other 80+ shots until I realized I was being an idiot).  Proper exposure could have been obtained by shooting ISO 200 or possibly shooting at 1/250th of a second.  Both were shot off of the Standard Gear.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2014 10:11 pm

    That’s a really great Warbler photo. Humility keeps us in check 🙂

  2. January 6, 2014 10:24 am

    Love the “honeybutt” photos, Jim. 🙂

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