Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: shooting two birds

with 19 comments

Shooting* not with one stone or several, but with a camera, of course. The other bird that I managed to get a picture of at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February 27th proved to be a juvenile bellbird, Anthornis melanura. It was head guide Sue Hensley who once again provided the identification, adding: “The bellbird looks to be a young one with a dark rather than a red eye. I love the feet and the position you have photographed it in.”

If you’d like to see an adult bellbird, you can check out a picture of one I took on our previous trip to New Zealand.

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* Speaking of shooting, this was a difficult picture to get because I had to shoot up toward an area that was much brighter than many of the bird’s parts that faced me.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

19 Responses

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  1. Lovely. The closest I have been to any bellbird.


    June 14, 2017 at 7:49 AM

  2. After enjoying that look of cautious appraisal, I noticed how well the bird’s feathers mimic the colors of the foliage and limbs surrounding it. Whether it’s meant as camouflage, it certainly makes for a lovely photo of a really cute bird.

    That’s an interesting note about shooting upward. Two days ago, I was trying to photograph a crab spider hanging upside down from its web, and I had to shoot against the sky. Finally, I remembered your Technique #8, and used flash. The result wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was better than an indistinct, dark blob hanging in mid-air.


    June 14, 2017 at 8:23 AM

    • I’m glad to hear flash helped you with that spider. I didn’t use it with the bellbird because there wasn’t time (my camera doesn’t have a built-in flash, so I have to attach an external unit) and also because as soon as the flash went off the bird would probably have flown away and I would have had just one chance to get a decent picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2017 at 10:35 PM

  3. Yes, interesting position the bird is in. Gorgeous shot, Steve. Wide angle zoom? Or big glass?

    Shooting birds is almost always a game of lighting, facial clarity, and a constantly moving subject in dense foliage. Manual mode (thumb and index finger fiddling dials), middle finger on the shutter, both eyes open (one in the distance, one in the viewfinder) and an ever-burning crick-neck are all recommended. So worth it for those beauties!!


    June 14, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    • With birds I almost always use the longest lens I have, which is a 70–200mm zoom with a 1.4X extender attached. In this case I zoomed in for the maximum 280mm focal length. People who get really good bird pictures use enormous lenses, but I’m not willing to haul around so much weight (plus a tripod). At 14 lbs., my loaded camera bag seems increasingly onerous. I sympathize with you about your machinations in taking bird pictures. Plants are so much easier!

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2017 at 10:47 PM

      • At 280mm zoom, then that’s a better than great shot! Good thing plants and pretty flowers don’t have feet…or wings. (Though sometimes your portraits can convince me they do.)


        June 15, 2017 at 7:28 AM

        • Thanks, Shannon.
          Yes, that’s what I had in mind: plants can’t run away (although they can blow in the wind and make a photographer’s task difficult).

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 15, 2017 at 6:01 PM

  4. Beautiful image Steve … just wonderful. He looks like he is snoozing.
    Terrific colours ..


    June 20, 2017 at 3:41 PM

  5. Well shot! Enjoy your island sojourn.


    June 21, 2017 at 4:10 PM

    • Thanks. We did enjoy it, a whole month in NZ. After we got back to the United States we took an 8-day trip to Kansas City, then a 22-day trip as far as South Dakota and Wyoming that we returned from just last week.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2017 at 4:18 PM

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