Wishin’ and Hopin’…

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After the hard physical labor of gardening in summer that begins just as there is enough daylight to tell a weed from a desirable and a stem can be cut without danger of slicing my finger is done, the tired gardener goes inside for a cool down.

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Cleanup, a snack and a cool beverage revive and refresh her so that she can head right back outside, this time with the camera in hopes of capturing the flying flowers that are seen flitting about while she labors on bended knee.

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Flowers have been planted just for them, those chittering, swooping green backed darts. It has been learned through the years that having their favorite flowers massed together within view but not too close to a comfortable chair is the best way to capture what we like to refer to as the *Holy Grail*, a decent image of a hummingbird feeding on the flowers. See previous posts about it here, here and here.

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At this time of year, it is the tiger lilies, Lilium tigrinum that came with the property, among others, that offer the best opportunity for the grail capture. The chair is in position in a shady spot just far enough away to not deter the diners but close enough for the camera range to be optimum. We hope.

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As has been happening the last few days of this endeavor, the hummer is at the lilies as I approach. The camera is turned on and pointed, always on auto setting for that is my method, and zoomed. This is a new camera, purchased right before Christmas of 2012 with a 20x zoom, the Canon Powershot SX260HS. The learning curve for its use is still being climbed. Trial and error is the best teacher for me.

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I can barely get a click off before she flies away. But she’ll be back if I just sit here and wait, wishing and hoping. Sitting and waiting is the hardest part of this, being an ants in her pants kind of gal. I look around at the foliage, the fallen pine needles on the path, the mosquitoes landing on exposed skin and try to grab them before blood is drawn. Sometimes I get lucky in that.

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All of a sudden the thrumming sound is heard. The camera is already on, resting on my pulled up knee, in position, and zoomed in appropriately. The little bird darts from flower to flower in a feeding frenzy. We try to look both at the hummingbird and the camera screen at the same time for the best possible moments of excited clicking. It’s not easy.

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Several clicks that seemed close to the goal were achieved. Now to go inside and load up on the laptop for the judging.

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Sigh…the grail seems to be just out of reach. Maybe with a better camera, (not going to happen), maybe on a less bright and sunshiney day, perhaps, we can do better. Onward.


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Wishin’ and Hopin’ was written by Hal David & Burt Bacharach and originally recorded as a b side single by Dionne Warwick in 1963. Dusty Springfield recorded it in a similar style and released it a year later, 1964. It reached #6 on the pop and #4 on the easy listening Billboard charts during the summer of 1964. Hers is the better known version and the one I thought of when writing this post, wishin’ and hopin’ for the little female ruby throated hummingbird to slow down enough for me to take a crisp and clear picture of her, the Holy Grail.

Above is a shot of a male ruby throat that was clicked as I was walking to go into the house after an unsuccessful wishin’ and hopin’ afternoon in June. I heard the humming, turned around and blindly clicked. This is the result.


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19 Responses to Wishin’ and Hopin’…

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is all in those pesky settings. My husband can, and has, explained this to me dozens of times. If you put it on TV and ramp up the setting to 1/1600, or what ever your camera will do, you have a better chance at a good photo in this situ. Your depth of field is smaller. I know you are close so that won’t matter much. Worth a try anyway. Love the lillies and the little beauties that they draw.

    Gosh, thanks, Lisa. If I can figure out what you are talking about, I will give it a try! It is frustrating when the hummers are right there and I am clicking away frantically. If only your dearly beloved were here to show me…

  2. Hummers are so challenging to photograph. I have only gotten good shots when they are sitting which as you know is not for long. They move so quickly it is hard to get good focus on the subject. I have never seen a hummer visit a tiger lily before. Very cool!

    Hi Karin, thanks for adding to the conversation here. I was very surprised when first seeing the hummers visit the tiger lilies, but it is their favorite dining spot while the lilies are in bloom here.

  3. Carol says:

    Hummingbirds are elusive targets for any photographer. You got some nice shots, though!

    Thanks Carol. It is fun trying and just seeing the little birds happily sipping from the flowers I have planted is very rewarding.

  4. Linda says:

    Pic # 7 is pretty darn good!

    Thanks Linda. I think that is probably the best of the lot.

  5. gail says:

    Hummers seem to show up when I least expect them and have no camera…You did capture some very fine photos. Love the lilies and want more of the tigers in my garden. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks for joining in the fun here. Of course the hummers and butterflies are all over the place when we are camera free. How do they know? The tiger lily babies I gave you will make many, many more if you plant those little black bulbils in the leaf axils. They are actually very weedy!

  6. Robin Ripley says:

    Hummingbirds may be tough to photograph, but it’s fun giving it a try. They are such special creatures.

    Hi Robin, thanks for visiting. Yes, the fun is in the effort. Like gardening itself, it is the journey, not the destination that matters most.

  7. Layanee says:

    I have done that ‘wishin’ and hopin’ but they are quick little creatures. Good job.

    Thanks, Layanee. They are so fast, even while nectaring, it is nearly an impossible task to get a good shot off while they are flying. Good thing they are somewhat noisy so I know when to be on alert! HA

  8. Dee says:

    Those hummingbirds! If only they knew how much they tempt us. I’m glad you got several visits even if the female wouldn’t slow down for a click or two.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks for the moral support. I so enjoy the hummers, whether with camera in hand or not. Trying to capture the image makes it more exciting, anyway.

  9. Aerie-el says:

    How elusive to the camera these tiny creatures are, but your images nicely captured their swift movements against the still (gorgeous) tiger lilies.
    Have fun experimenting with the new camera~looking forward to seeing more dazzling results!

    Hi Aerie-el, thanks for those kind words. It is fun to experiment and it seems there are some options available as to the settings to see if a clearer shot can be had.

  10. Alison says:

    Here’s to wishing and hoping. I’ve decided for the next while at least to give up on taking pictures of them and just enjoy the experience of seeing them. They seem to be getting used to the fact that I am out there, and don’t dart away quite as much as they used to, or sometimes they actually come and hover near me, looking me all over. I like to think they’re saying, “Are you the gardener who planted all this food? Thank you!”

    Hi Alison, that is a good attitude to have. Often, when I don’t have the camera, or the camera is not turned on, the hummers will hover right in front of my face. If I didn’t wear glasses, I might fear a poke in the eye, their beaks are quite pointy! HA

  11. Even with a slight blur to their edges, they are pure enchantment ( to me ) and always bring on a smile of wonder. I was talking to a 6 to 7 year old girl recently and, in the course, of some chit chat, said something to the effect that hummingbirds were magic. Well, this little buzz kill literalist gave me a somewhat dismissive look and said “No, they’re not magic” Well, ok, but, “they’re magical because blah, blah blah,” I defended. She didn’t lose the skeptical arched brow but what do kids know….right? I’m a believer!

    I too, am a believer, Michaele. Poor child, I hope she can see the magic at some point in her life. Thanks for the kind words about the photos. At least you can tell it is a hummingbird. With prompting.

  12. Very cool hummingbird pictures! We’ve seen them a few times this year but never when we had a camera handy! I’m growing some trumpet honeysuckle by the back porch window, when it blooms next year I hope we get some shots from the comfort of the porch chairs.

    Thanks Jason. Having a comfy chair makes the waiting much less painful. Of course when I am just walking around without the camera the hummers are everywhere. I just saw one dining on blackberry lilies.

  13. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    Our lilies are doing well too….the honeysuckle is attracting the most hummingbirds our way! Is that an Anna’s hummingbird? Enjoy the blossoms and the creatures that fly by them. Happy summer.

    Good to hear about your lilies and honeysuckle and hummers, Elizabeth. Our hummingbirds are ruby throats, but only the male shows the red necktie. I love watching them, whether I have the camera, or not. Happy summer to you.

  14. Lola says:

    Love to watch those little hummers. Good shots of them. I have a couple here also.

    Thanks Lola. I am glad you have some hummers to watch, too. They are so thrilling to see.

  15. I enjoyed the story and your honesty. I totally understand because it happens to me all the time, too. It’s so much easier to capture stationary objects. Especially when you have to zoom from a distance. One of these days, I’m going to get out my tripod to keep the camera steady–that’s what I struggle with. 😉

    Hi Beth, thanks. I have a large tripod that might help, but this camera is so small, it might be difficult to move around fast enough to get the hummer. I will try.

  16. Rose says:

    I know you are looking for that elusive perfect photo, but to me you’ve already found the Holy Grail, Frances! I spent a little time yesterday with camera poised as the hummers enjoyed the new ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia, but all I got were some really good photos of the flowers:)

    Thanks so much Rose, for those kind words. The seventh photo might be as good as I can do without taking classes or a new camera or both! I am glad you are enjoying the quest for the grail, as well. It is the journey, not the destination…

  17. Judy Santostefano says:

    My little friends visit my feeder right outside my kitchen window. In March or April when they are beginning to come around and I am tardy about getting the feeder out there in time, they stare at me through the window as I sit at my table flapping their wings, looking side to side as if to say…..”So……..where’s my food? Huh? Huh?” I beg their apologies and……….put up the feeder. Far be it from me to disappoint……love them

    Hi Judy, thanks for sharing your sweet story about the hummers wanting to be fed. They are such charming and magical creatures.

  18. I’m glad I came back here to see this post. Much of what you said is what I could also say. My camera is the Canon PowerShot SX10IS. I don’t remember if that’s what you said or if it was a different Canon. I have a bench that I sit on, waiting as well, looking at the camera and the bird back and forth. Any wrong move, and off it flies, so I sit again as still as I can, and wait. It’s early here to see any, but either last night, or the night before, I saw one at the agastache it has frequented the last couple of summers. I wondered if it was scouting to see if the plant is still there. The salvia ‘Black and Blue’ is not blooming yet. Well, I liked your photos just fine, and hope for my turn to try soon.

    Hi Sue, I am glad you came back here, too! I have three Canons, including the brother to your SX10, the SX1 that is not working correctly so has been retired. The old A720 and the new SX260HS with the 20x zoom are the cameras in use now. The hummer photos were taken with the 260. It is a difficult to look at where the bird is and what is showing on the screen at the same time, plus not scare the hummer, just like you say. At least we know their favorite dining spots and can sit and wait. Thanks for the kind words!

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