It is blueberry season up here. The weather has been gorgeous.
Those two statements together mean we have spent all of our evenings out picking blueberries, hands down one of Leah's favourite activities. Now, when I say we have been picking blueberries I'm stretching the truth a little, for I've done very little. I've birded and wandered camera in hand, played tag with the kids, built ancient inuksuit but berry picking not so much. A little, I'm more into savouring the fruits of Leah's labour.
Tonight was no exception, but it did have a bit of twist. I had something that needed attending to right after supper, and Leah wasn't about to wait. So she headed off on the ATV and the kids and I followed an hour or so later by truck.
Now, because school starts this Friday, we've been making a rather abrupt change from summer sleep habits for the kids, but it has been challenging, and they've been tired. For Hilary this evening tired translated into grumpiness and tears and by the time we'd reached the spot where Leah parked the ATV I had had enough. Knowing how tired she my strategy was to put the seat back, duck under my jacket and pretend to sleep, counting on her to follow suit
It worked well, too well. I'm not sure which of us fell asleep first. After about an hour I woke up, sat upright and looked out the window. Looking right back at me, from across the road was an Ermine. I lowered the window grabbed the camera and fired away, steadying the camera, checking my camera settings, squeaking or pishing, keeping it in view, until it finally lost interest and disappeared through the rubble of boulders.
Sometimes a little luck, and a little sleep, is all it takes.
First of all, travel with someone more observant than you, like my wife.
Walk quietly until she points out the Ermine to you, mere feet away.
Avoid crowds of screaming children.
As the Ermine starts to flee "squeak", its curiousity will get the better of it and it will come to try and choose you. Keep it up as it pops in and out of rocks, at times appearing right at your feet.
The "kind of" part, hand holding a camera at slow shutter speeds will probably result in fuzzy images. Full on camera mounted flash will not save you as the eye shine makes it look like full on, camera mounted, flash was used. When you do get a flash shot that doesn't blast out the eye shine, focus on the wrong part of the animal so the eyes and face are not sharp.
Keep taking the photos until said crowd of screaming childrens show up to see what you're taking pictures of.
Keep your best couple of images, cursing their lack of sharpness and hope people only look at them at low resolution. Like this...
First of all, find the Ermine by watching a scrum of kids chasing something around.
Position yourself in a place where you can watch the action, but where you are in no way hidden from the Ermine.
Next, pay no attention to your camera settings, or if you do make sure it is set on a slow shutter speed. Spot, one shot focus setting is desirable as well, to make sure that your auto focus does not track said Ermine.
Marvel at just how quick Ermine are, especially when chased by a group of kids. Marvel also at the Ermine's penchant for never pausing for more than a fraction of a second.
Trash the unusable photos upon getting back to the computer, and never, ever share them like this.