Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raising Arizona

"Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons." (Will Cuppy) 

Wasn't that the title to a bad Nicolas Cage movie? I'm staggering back from a 3- or 4-day migraine, I lost count. Just a few hours of real sleep this week. All of my recent thoughts and memories are chopped up and blended together, just a confusing bunch of snippits so far.

I remember getting ready for a reunion this weekend, "raising Arizona" with a bunch of friends. Then there's this recollection of another friend taking his photo show on the road, complete with strobe lights like the rock band, "Electric Light Orchestra" (anyone remember them?) or something; 29 cities in 42 days -- wish I could make one.

And I distinctly remember sitting in a little restaurant with a dear old friend whom I've never met before, talking about Mexican jaguars and global warming. I can also remember camping in the Arizona desert for three nights to get the appropriate moonset image in a magical location. Failed. Got lots of good images, but nothing that does the place justice. Next full moon...

Female Anna's Hummingbird (c) John Ashley
Female Anna's Hummingbird, 105mm, f 9.5, 1600 ISO, 50% crop
In the middle of all this, I'm also test-driving a lens from my friend, Bob. A Nikon 105mm 2.8 micro. Nice lens. I put it to the test on a cooperative, free-ranging hummingbird. It's hard enough to get sharp macro images of slow-moving bugs and such. Capturing hummingbirds with less than 1/2" depth-of-field was downright humbling.

I don't normally photograph "feeder birds." But I figured it would be a good challenge for the lens. The bird's attracted to a little test-tube filled with sugar water, attached with a suction cup to our reflective camper window (ie - fill light). She's a little Anna's Hummingbird, and she can kinda' sorta' see me inside, so I can't move.

Manual focusing scared her off. So I put the autofocus square on her eye, and pressed halfway down on the shutter when she turned broadside -- which never lasted more than a split second. That put her eye in sharp focus and gave me just a touch of blurry beak. Way too much blurriness when she pointed towards me.

That much I remember. Now I'm just hoping this migraine, and my medicine-induced blurriness, both go away by morning. I've got an early 8-mile work hike [turned out to be 11 miles] with a 72-year-old man who would leave me in the Arizona dust, even on a good day.

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