Category Archives: bird photography

House Finches in Flight



They say practice makes perfect, but in this case, I think I simply got lucky!! I was practicing, however, over and over again, to capture these house finches as they skirmished in the air. A nearby feeder was their target and they’d squabble and land on this barrel cactus and it was great fun to watch and to photograph! I won’t tell you how many images I threw away – because the wings weren’t right, or birds overlapped, or half of the bird was great and the other half, well, wasn’t even in the frame! lol. But with persistence, and patience, I managed to get a few that I liked, like this image. The most fun was that I spent the time with my good friend Wendy Kaveney, who has been practicing this herself in her desert backyard outside of Phoenix, Arizona. It was a great time, and we’d spend each morning watching the birds and photographing Gila woodpeckers, Gilded Flickers, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrashers, Mourning Doves, Verdins, Quail, and the sneaky Harris Antelope Squirrel who’d get into the food, too.

I recalibrated my Tamron 150-600mm lens with the Lens Align Kit and I’m so glad I did. If you think you don’t need to do that with your long lenses you bought, think again! I was able to make mine even more accurate by doing the test.

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Seizing the Moment



Not all nature photography is easy, and the results don’t speak about the hours we slogged through a swamp swatting mosquitoes, or trudged up a mountaintop in fierce winds, etc. The results are what matter and it’s a good thing the images don’t reflect our efforts but rather the beauty, peace and drama of nature. I have spent countless hours hidden under hedges as a blind, lying on my belly in sand, freezing in snowy conditions while waiting for the light to break, etc., and I’m not alone in this! What we do as nature photographers to capture special moments is often a rather large effort, but dedication to the final photograph is what keeps us all going.

My latest ‘painful’ effort was photographing a mother humming bird feeding her young. I was standing tiptoed on a 6-inch wide wall, leaning against another wall, but leaning to the right about a foot into thin air, to avoid the branch that was crossing the mother’s upper body, and waiting there in that position for her to return. My weight was all on the ball of one foot, and the balance was precarious to say the least; my body was in an unnatural position, and everything ached; but I wasn’t going to give in, because watching her come and feed her babies took my breath away and I knew I had to get photos! So, in this awkward position, I waited without moving for about 10 minutes; thankfully not too long, because she feeds them very regularly. I managed to get about 8-10 good photographs before she flew off, and the pain in my right foot was just too much to do it again right away. I vowed to return in a day or two to make more. But that next visit, the wind was blowing the branch too much, the sun was covered by thick clouds, and the photograph just wasn’t going to work out. Am I ever glad that I stuck it out that first day to get some images!

Road trippin’ through Arizona and California,


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The Birds




If you didn’t like Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” then you might not like some of the experiences in the wildlife refuges!! When the birds lift off and fly over your head, the sky darkens with their numbers, and the wingbeat can almost be felt! I love it. The place is alive with action and cacophony of squabbling and squawking sounds, non stop. After day in the refuge, I go to sleep hearing the noise in my mind’s ears, and seeing birds everywhere in my mind’s eye!

In one instance I was looking towards the sunset itself, when a rumbling sound came from behind, and thousands of geese in a field were lifting off. It was so busy that it was hard to know which direction to photograph in, so I had to spend another day and do it all over again! Played with shutter speeds, moonrise/dusk, mass liftoffs, and single birds. Even shot a mass swarm of red and  yellow-winged blackbirds as they moved across the stubble in a field gathering insects. (directly below). Hard to see them unless it’s larger, but there’s a few red and yellow wings flashin’ in there.

To say I had fun would be an understatement!!



This one below captured the mood of night falling on the refuge for me.



I liked how they squawked while flying, so I tried to time it for that, too.



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Gesture and Reflection = Magic



My trip to the bird refuge in January produced some favorite images of 2016 so far. The day began with a lot of clouds, then a slight clearing and a rainbow, then back to clouds for some time, and as I drove around the levee road, I thinking I’d go explore elsewhere, when the sky brightened just as I came upon a stilt. They are one of my favorite wading birds, and I took it as a sign that I should stick around! I worked with several birds for a while, trying to time their movements, and get them in position for a catchlight in the eye, and single them out. Finally, this one bird was in the perfect spot, and as it lifted its leg I clicked the shutter. The drop of water on the bird’s beak, and the drop rings in the water all added to the moment for me, and the gesture and the reflection yielded magic!

I’m heading out to the refuge again in a few days to try for great light on a mass liftoff, but if that doesn’t happen I know there is always something of interest and I’ll work with what I have.

Thanks for visiting!



Brenda Tharp is an award-winning landscape and travel photographer, international photo tour leader, workshop instructor, inspirational speaker, fine art photographer, and writer. California photographer, landscape photographer, nature photographer, travel photographer, people photographer, worldwide photographer,fine art photos, for sale, fine art, photographs, travel, landscapes, nature, trees, oceans, mountains, deserts, wilderness, wildflowers, western, usa, morocco, ireland, italy, namibia, myanmar, bhutan, alaska, people, cultures, cultural, photography, international, cities, villages, lifestyles, traditional, outdoor, outdoor photographer, award-winning, cultural photographer, photo workshops, photo seminars, photo tours, photography workshops, photography tours, keynote speaker, photography teacher, author, photographic artist, photography books, photo books, photography tour leader, tour leader, workshop instructor, inspirational.

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