Since I got my current camera last April, I haven’t had much success mastering shutter priority. I think it’s because it acts way different from my old camera the Nikon 1. Since the Nikon 1 was a mirrorless camera with a small sensor, I had to crank my shutter speed up to 1/2500 or higher to capture sharp pictures of birds.
Well, when I got my Olympus micro 4/3 camera, it has a much better sensor and overall is a much more advanced camera. So when I tried shooting in shutter priority with the same settings as my old Nikon 1, my photos came out very dark. I got very frustrated and just quit using it altogether. I switched to aperture priority. Sadly, I wasn’t happy with my photos if there was any movement to the subject. I just couldn’t get a sharp photo.
So a few days ago I went out with the sole purpose of finding birds and shooting them in shutter priority. It started out rough, but I soon realized I had to crank the shutter speed way down. It was a beautiful February day and there was quite a variety of waterfowl at the duck ponds. I had no shortage of subjects to practice on.
Soon I was shooting photos I was much happier with. I realized I had a lot of sunshine to work with and was able to get nice crisp shots at 1/800 or less.
My first successful shot I was very pleased with was of a female Northern Shoveler stretching her wings.
From that point forward I was changing my speed up and down to see what worked best. In the past, even a calmly swimming duck would be somewhat soft because aperture priority just couldn’t handle the movement properly. Here’s some more shots I got a the ponds.
While shooting I heard someone say there was a Cinnamon Teal at the far end. What!? I quickly worked my way along the pond to find this bird. I rarely see them in Albuquerque. He was a distance away from me, but I was able to get a decent photo. It was a male, and he was beautiful!
I was really pleased with the detail that was captured on this Ring-Necked Duck.
I happened to notice an American Coot and a Northern Shoveler interacting. The Coot had pulled up a tasty morsel and the Shoveler was interested in what the Coot had.
I guess the Coot didn’t want to share, because he gave that Shoveler a smackdown! LOL!
I was pleased with the sharp pics using shutter priority! I worked my way north from the duck ponds to see if I could find any smaller birds to practice on. It was a pretty quiet morning for the little guys. Up ahead I spotted larger bird. At first I thought it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but as I got closer I saw it was a Greater Roadrunner.
A lovely female sunning herself. To warm up, the Roadrunner drops its wings and exposes the dark feathers underneath. These dark downy feathers quickly capture the warmth of the sun.
As I was photographing this beautiful bird, it became alert with the approach of another hiker heading our way. They had a dog with a bell on its collar. The crest feathers came up and I was able to get a good pic showing the beautiful purple feathers of the crest.
As the hiker and his dog got closer, the Roadrunner decided it was time to go.
I was thrilled to have a few quiet moments close to this bird to capture some nice photos. When I think back, I realized it wasn’t afraid of Scarlett who was right next to me. She’s so calm and just lays down while I take photos. I find birds are rarely afraid of her. 🙂
Once the Roadrunner was gone, I looked out over the river. I saw a lone Common Merganser female grooming on a sandbar. She was a long ways away, but I can never resist photographing these birds.
I finally found a few small birds foraging in the bushes. They were deep in shadow so it was a challenge getting pics. This is when I struggled most using shutter priority. My photos just came out too dark. I had a lot of editing to do. Hmmmm…I’m still going to need a lot of practice in low light situations.
I turned around to head back to the car. I decided to walk past the fishing ponds at Tingley Beach. There were some Neotropic Cormorants out sunning themselves.
They were quite close to me so I took advantage of that and got a nice portrait shot. They have the most beautiful teal-colored eyes.
It was such a pretty day, I decided to head over to the Botanical Gardens which are right next door to Tingley Beach. There are always wood ducks there. What better subject to practice on! 🙂
When I arrived I saw some Dark-Eyed Juncos feeding on the big lawn area. They were in the shade, so I practiced taking some more shutter priority photos in low light. I think I’m getting better. 🙂
I think Albuquerque has a beautiful Botanical Gardens. I keep an annual membership as I love to go often throughout the year.
As expected, there were several pairs of Wood Ducks on the pond. It was so much fun practicing on them. Such a beautiful bird!
I especially liked the pic below. I liked his pose and how the sun brought out all the beautiful color of his plumage.
Whenever I visit the gardens, I always have to visit the Japanese Garden section. It is one of the newest sections of the garden and has been maturing nicely over the past few years. I’m looking forward to visiting it in the spring when the trees are in full bloom.
I had hoped to see the Black-Crowned Night Heron that pretty much lives there at the pond. He is missing all his toes on one foot so it’s hard for him to make it in the wild. But here at the gardens, he gets special attention from the man that feeds the coy. Sadly, he wasn’t in view when I visited this time. Probably snoozing somewhere in the trees.
While there I took few pics of the beautiful waterfall. By now it was around noon. Not the best time for scenic photos, but I took some anyway. 🙂
It was a fun morning out. It’s always a good time when when you can get out on a beautiful day with your camera.
As I was about the get into my car, I saw several Sandhill Cranes flying overhead. I have noticed lots of them flying overhead during the past couple weeks. They are strengthening their wings for their migration north. I will miss them. But I also know their leaving tells me spring is not too far off!
A few days later I had to drive to Belen for work. I stopped in at Owlville in Los Lunas. I was hopeful there were some owls there. And sure enough there was one hanging out. I just had to share a few pics. Who doesn’t want to see an owl!
16 thoughts on “Perfecting Shutter Speed”
All your photos are so clean, clear and crisp. Your changes have definitely improved your photo quality. I’m still learning on mine. It is something that is never ending. Wonderful Blog and Excellent Photos. Cheers
Thank you so much Ed! I agree learning will never end. 😁
Stunning collection of photos, awesome details and sharpness. So many loves here, including the action series between the Coot and Shoveler! I think you learned your camera quite well very quickly!
Thank you Donna! I believe you have to use a camera often and always challenge yourself to improve. ☺
I agree! 🙂
I love all of them! Beautiful collection!
Thank you so much Ileana!
Wonderfully crisp photos Kelly, you certainly have the gift for getting great pics. Your experiments have paid off, and wow your Wood Duck is amazing, it looks like a plastic model of some artists colourful creation . Our Wood Duck is no where near as beautiful having only different shades of brown and white. How amazing that an owl would let you get that close. Its not hard to get envious of your amazing collection. Have a wonderful week Kelly!
Thank you so much Ashley! I feel pretty blessed to have such wonderful opportunities to see God’s beautiful creations. I agree our Wood Ducks are pretty special. Owlville is a rare opportunity to see Burrowing Owls up close. They live right on the edge of town and have become used to people photographing them….as long as you don’t get out of your car. This particular owl has his home just a few feet away from the road so he’s easy to see and get great pics. You have a great week too Ashley! Happy birding!
Wow! Those Wood Ducks!
I agree! Aren’t they the most gorgeous bird! Thanks Kathy!
Now Grasshopper….Manual !!!!
Are you kidding me!?!! LOL! No one shoots birds in manual….remember chasing that scaled quail at Chaco? You were in manual then. LMAO! I was yelling “put it in AUTO so you don’t miss that bird!!!”
Yah… but its going to be you and not me this time!!!
Wow!You got so many captivating pictures, Kelly! Loved the Roadrunner and the Burrowing Owl in particular 🙂
Thank you Tiny! Those 2 birds are among my favorites to photograph. I guess you don’t have either where you live? Shame…their personalities are great! 😊