I’ll take a shot of White Eye!


I had to get out of the office, I’d been struggling with, and continue to do so, my website and the WordPress back end, the administrative section. If you’re a technical web bod, check out the video I made about it, it’s frustrating to say the least. That merged with the whole meltdown on Twitter about plans to introduce an algorithm based timeline all added to a weekend that wasn’t, let’s say, one of my best. I like Twitter, some say I spend more time on the platform than I should, I’m just connected, I tweet a lot from my cell phone whilst on the road, and that’s the beauty of it, it’s real time, it’s true social interaction. Now if Twitter does go ahead with the rumours of a planned algorithm based timeline it will mean my tweets will be placed out of real time synch due to tweets deemed by the algorithm to have more public appeal than mine being placed at the top of the main timeline feed. It just doesn’t make sense. It pushed me to create a petition just to offer people a release from watching the roller coaster ride that was the timeline of tweets that had been pouring into Twitter using the #RIPTwitter hashtag. I needed a release, I needed to head out and take some photo’s, find some nature, anything, just a break from the computers.

My wife, Terri, had mentioned in passing, and shown me a couple of her iPhone shots, of some trees on the way to her office that had already started blooming with what looked to be Cherry Blossom. Unknown to me there is actually a type of Blossom that blooms early here in Japan. We’ve all seen the pictures of the standard Cherry Blossom in Japan that flowers between March and April. There is also Plum Blossom called ‘Ume’ which around the Tokyo region tends to blossom around late January into February and it was this that she was showing me. Now I know that there is a small bird called the Japanese White Eye that loves Cherry Blossom buds so I was left wondering of they too would be around these Plum trees, there was only one way to find out.

I threw my Canon 5D3 and a Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD into my Paxis backpack along with a couple of other lenses as backup in case my hunt was unsuccessful and headed out to my favourite nature spot just a ten minute bicycle ride from our place in Yokohama. It took me a while to find as I wasn’t sure if this tree was even planted in the park, alas, there were two, and one of them seemed to be perfectly placed with the light hitting it just right. Slipping off my pack and placing my tripod down I’d elected to go handheld. Given the conditions I could shoot in Aperture Priority mode, selecting f8 to start with and ISO640 to give me a fast enough shutter to freeze any action against the lighter backgrounds of Blossoms, and then it was a waiting game.

I didn’t have to wait long though. Soon I could hear the frenetic chirping call of the sought after species. Japanese White Eyes are not the biggest of birds, think of something the size of say, a Robin and you’d be about in the right ballpark. Initially I observed their movements to be quite frenetic but noted that they would calm down after having visited around five initial buds after which they settled into a more systematic ‘working’ of the flowers along each branch they selected. This made lining up shots pretty straightforward.

Before long I realised I’d been shooting for about an hour os so and looking at the Camera LCD display I saw that I’d taken some 380 or so images, not bad, there had to be a keeper or two in there, at least. I’d been shooting a selection of approaches, Evaluative metering, Spot metering doe to the changing light and also slid around a wide selection of apertures and ISO’s. I am constantly changing settings when I shoot to see what gives better results. It’s the only way, for me, that I feel I am challenging myself, and in doing so hoping to advance my abilities and understanding of photographic techniques. That’s the beauty of imaging, the constant change of conditions, motion and environments we find ourselves in.


With all wildlife imaging the main focus should be on the Eye of the subject, that needs to be sharp at all times.

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