We asked Jeanette to be our Photographer of the Month for June because of her committed and methodical approach to improving her bird photography. She shares her passion with us in her words:
"I have been taking pictures off and on all my life but became interested in bird photography when we lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Our neighborhood had both palm trees and sycamores that were home to Orioles. When I put out our hummingbird feeder, I noticed that the Orioles would hang out and try to drink from them. I soon got a couple Oriole feeders and over the years their population grew as they imprinted on our backyard. They arrived in March and left in August after fledging two sets of young. They were fun to watch but when we planned to move to SaddleBrooke, I thought it would be nice to photograph them. Since they are very timid birds, my husband built a bird blind, and I borrowed a Canon Zoom camera from work for a few weeks. We probably had 20 Orioles in our backyard at any one time. Photographing them got me started on more serious bird photography.
Since then, I have purchased my own Canon camera with a 400 zoom lens, as well as two off camera flashes. I also spray painted a canvas background to use as a backdrop. The folks in the Photography Club helped me decide what equipment was instrumental for bird photography.
After moving to SaddleBrooke, my interest has turned to photographing hummingbirds and other colorful birds such as the Elegant Trogons. They each have their unique challenges. We planted hummingbird flowering bushes in our backyard and I use the backdrop and flashes to capture the male’s iridescent color while trying to eliminate the view of the brick back wall. It takes patience to photograph them in the bushes rather than against the feeders. And another challenge is that they move so fast! After purchasing a small place in Pinetop to escape the summer heat, we now go to the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area for their annual High Country Hummingbird Festival during the fall migration at the end of July. We have photographed Broadtails, Rufous, Calliope and Annas during this time.
Photographing the Elegant Trogons has also turned into a passion. The northern range of this species is the sky islands of southern Arizona. I saw and photographed my first Trogon at Patagonia Lake State Park about three years ago. Since then, my husband and I have visited Cave Creek, Huachuca Canyon, Garden Canyon, and Madera Canyon in search of the Trogons. Sometimes it takes several visits to get the right lighting or photograph them without a tangle of branches. I have been fortunate this year for the first time to see and photograph young Trogons at Madera Canyon.
The SaddleBrook Photography Club has had several birding field trips, including Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico to photograph Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese, Sweetwater Wetlands and Gilbert Water Ranch. All are excellent locations for bird photography.
We are fortunate to live in Arizona where wildlife is so abundant. My goal is to continue photographing wildlife locally. A recent day trip to the lakes within the White Mountains allowed my husband and I to enjoy seeing Bald Eagles, Mountain Bluebirds, Great Blue Herons, Pronghorn Antelope, Elk and Bighorn Sheep. There is never a lack of photographic opportunities!"
We agree with Jeanette, lovely Saddlebrooke is full of photographic opportunities. Drop in to the photo studio any Wednesday or Friday morning from 9-12 in the Agate Room at HOA#2 to see what the Club can do for you.