I battled a lot of elements shooting at Great Falls. First, the weather. It really was such a beautiful day. Perfect temperatures and partially cloudy made for great hiking. The problem was the sun kept peaking out from behind the clouds and then hiding for a few minutes, only to reemerge. This made me have to change my aperture and exposure composition often. Even when I was shooting the same thing. It would go from blown out to over exposed in a few seconds. Very frustrating. Although Jake was definitely patient while I made my changes, I thank him for that.
One thing I learned about taking pictures of birds, you have to take as many pictures as you can in a short amount of time. Take a few to judge your settings, and then just go for it. Snap away! Because usually they aren't around for long. When I came across the woodpecker my settings on my camera were set for a much brighter scene, not the shadows that he was hiding in under the tree branches, that also happened to be back lit by the sun. Ugh. So I snapped a few photos took a look and had a mild heart attack. Looked at my camera, back at the bird, thinking he better not go anywhere!!! Made some adjustments and then just prayed for something to come out. A few moments later, he was gone. Now I wouldn't say this is the "expert" approach to this situation, but it was mine. And it turned out ok :o)