Going way back…

me and my little brother

My little brother came into town yesterday, we only had a few hours together but it was so good to see him. I hate that we live on opposite sides of the country. We spent time talking with our dad about our mom and it got me thinking of an old photo of her that I hadn’t seen in years so I’ve been digging around trying to find it but I keep coming up empty. I did, however, find few old gems that I didn’t even know existed! Ready to go back to the 70s?

Me and my first camera and my first ever bird pic!

I can’t believe I am actually sharing these but I’m sure we all have photos that should never see the light of day. On the left is yours truly, with my first camera! That was a family trip we took in 1976…a road trip from Southern California to Memphis, TN for a family reunion. I remember that trip fondly. It was back in the day before mandatory seatbelts. My dad had traded cars with a coworker so we made the trip in a big, old van! My brother and I spent the trip playing in the very back of it, getting truckers to honk at us and all the other things one used to enjoy on long road trips. On the right is one of my first photos. I actually don’t even know why my dad kept it, I certainly wouldn’t have. It is from a trip to the San Diego Zoo and it appears to be ducks of some sort (my first bird picture!). I remember always loving taking pictures of things; family, friends, landscapes, basically anything that grabbed my attention and wish I had kept more of them. Eventually I grew up, got married and my photography turned to taking pictures of my kids (lots of pictures!) and our family trips and not much more since I was teaching full time and that took up most of my time.

Back in the day of point and shoot. Half Dome in Yosemite was when I was still using film and praying the shots turned out! The girls in Mammoth and then in Arches NP on our cross country road trip from Southern California to our new home in North Carolina.
2007, my first bird picture in our new home. We didn’t have cardinals in California so I was fascinated with these lovely birds!
My spark birds…first shots of a Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee

I was just doing my own thing without really knowing what I was doing and shooting everything in Auto mode. The shots weren’t the best. I eventually took a class with a local photographer in 2017 and learned to get out of Auto mode. Although when it came to birds I still had no idea what I was doing, I was shooting everything in too slow of a shutter speed. I remember the day I first saw a Tufted Titmouse in our maple tree. I had no idea what it was so I sent a picture to a teacher friend of mine and she quickly identified it for me. I saw the Carolina Chickadee the same day and I’ve been birding ever since. I quickly hung feeders for them and have enjoyed watching the birds come to the yard and feeders ever since. Most of my early birding took place either watching them in my yard or at my parents’ house while caring for my mom as I have written about in other posts. I hadn’t discovered eBird yet or even that birding was a thing! It was just me taking pictures through the windows and still not using a fast enough shutter speed!

taking pictures through double paned windows, you don’t always get the best results!

After mom passed in 2018 I suddenly had plenty of free time and learned that birding is actually a thing. I discovered eBird and started getting out there. I plotted good birding spots and off I’d go. With each birding trip I pushed myself. I ventured off alone for the day, something that was out of my comfort zone, and pushed myself to become a better photographer. I learned that to get good bird photos you have to increase your shutter speed (they don’t sit still!) and have good lighting! I read online articles by bird photographers and contacted some other birders that I found in Facebook groups. Just like school, photography is a life-long learning experience. I don’t have a top of the line camera but I did invest in a good lens and am pretty happy with my results most days. Every day is a new adventure, you never know what you will run into while birding and that’s half the fun for me! While I enjoy spring and fall migrations because they bring new birds to the area, I am thankful to my non-migrating backyard birds for giving me something to enjoy most days! No two days are ever alike! Keep at it!

Some of my more recent shots.

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