Photography 101: Moment and Motion

Day 13:  Capturing a fleeting moment full of motion is the goal for today’s assignment, and tips were provided for creating a blur effect in a photo by adjusting the camera’s shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed.

Let me show you how filthy my feathered friends can be beneath their dapper exterior.  Yesterday, I happened to be in the yard with my camera — I’m actually reading the camera manual and practicing using the amazing features I never knew my camera had — and I caught one of our sweet girls in the hen house bathing.

Here’s our dark-colored Easter Egger chicken (one of her pale blue eggs was in a photo in a previous post).  She looks cute, all shiny and clean just relaxing in a pile of leaves, right?

black and brown patterned hen relaxing in pile of leaves and dirt

I present to you a photographic display of the process a hen goes through when taking a dust bath:

(For those of you who are not familiar with the strange little ways of chickens, yes, you read that right, it’s called a dust bath.  No water is needed for these girls, except to drink.  They would rather feel fresh and mite-free via a thorough dousing in dirt.)

Just for entertainment, I added an imaginary soliloquy of our girl Pumpkin during her dust bath.

And this process can go on for 15 minutes with dirt flying three feet in every direction!  I quickly learned never to stand downwind when dust bathing is underway.

The chickens dig ankle-turning pits wherever the dirt is of the proper quality.  At times, two or three hens will pile together in one hole for a good dusting.  Nothing makes a hen happier…

…except maybe pizza (I have the scars to prove it!), but that’s another story for another day, perhaps.


9 thoughts on “Photography 101: Moment and Motion

    • There is an oil gland on a chicken’s back near the base of its tail. It uses its beak to grab oil from the gland and spread it around on the feathers to keep them smooth and waterproof.

      Supposedly, dust bathing helps reduce the buildup of oil on their feathers–after dust bathing, a hen will stand up and fluff her feathers, sending a giant (oily?) cloud of dust into the air.

      The dust also deters mites and ticks from living on the chicken’s skin. Lots of wild birds, and even certain mammals (horses, elephants, etc) dust bathe, as well. Pet stores sell a sparkly gray mineral powder that people buy for their pet chinchillas to dust bathe in.

      (Sorry this is so long. It’s the teacher in me. Lesson over…you may go on about your day now. ha ha 🙂 )


      • Smaaak says:

        I never knew that ! You mean the hens are so flexible as to be able to reach their beaks to their behinds? And in dust bathing they actually turn themselves upside down, I think I see this in your photos? They’re like cats! Licking themselves for self cleaning then rolling over and scratching their backs against the carpet. Do the male chickens do the same thing?

        Not long at all, I was fascinated !

        Liked by 1 person

      • Most are that flexible. Some of the very fat birds (bred for meat rather than egg laying) aren’t so great at it. Our fluffy Blue Cochin is so fat (and so inept at squatting to go to the bathroom) that her back end gets very dirty. We occasionally have to give her real baths with soap and water to keep the poo and dirt from causing sores on her skin. (The things I do for my daughter! ha ha) My friend tells me she does not have that problem with her Cochins, however. Must be my one goofy bird.

        Yes, the males dust bathe, as well. They all flip and flop like they are having a seizure or something. It’s quite amusing.

        I spent my childhood around chickens and owned them as an adult for two years before I learned about the oil gland. Birds have the ability to make their feathers stand up (you know, like the hair on your arm does when you’re cold). They fluff their feathers up to expose the gland and reach back to get oil off of it. The gland looks like a tall bump of skin.

        Maybe next month I can figure out how to put my own videos on here, and I’ll get footage of them preening their feathers and dust bathing.


      • Smaaak says:

        When I was very small, my mother would bring home some chicks and raise them in a raised very large cage. There was no dirt for them to dust bathe. But I do remember them doing the oil gland thing. I don’t remember them having eggs either, maybe the entire time only two brown eggs or so. As the cage was raised, their poo went straight to the cement floor which could be daily twice a day hosed away as the garden was watered. So they had no poo problem. They had brown feathers.

        Years later, I went home to visit my folks and found one chick had been raised to a hen And that hen would follow the human around like a dog would. It acted like our hired help’s pet! But there was still no dirt for the hen to bathe and I never asked if it did since I only knew just now from your blog that they did.

        I am very much fascinated by your hens because of those eggs you lined up. Otherwise to me, a chicken is a chicken. I’d love to watch your footage of them. And their eggs! The eggs because recently I went to the supermarket and saw them selling organic free running chicken with no antibiotic or hormonal shots from New Zealand for about US$1 each. That’s many times over the regular eggs. That’s why I am also fascinated by your natural lifestyle when out in the open market in the city it’s such a BIG deal. Mainly because I love eggs for breakfast and at the supermarket I had to wonder about the color of the eggs, their sizes and why they are different and is one superior over the other besides the organic factor.
        So you raise chicken for eggs and meat as well?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for sharing your stories!

        As far as footage…Yesterday I made my first YouTube video to share a song I created to help my daughter with her grammar school work. I now think I’ll be able to upload videos to share with you when I find the time in a few weeks. 😀

        I share eggs with family and sell some also to help pay for the chicken feed we have to buy. I don’t raise chickens for meat, personally, because I’m too wimpy to kill anything other than bugs. ha ha The breast is the only part I really enjoy to eat, anyway, and it’s much easier to buy it at the store!

        No matter what color the egg shell is, chicken eggs are all the same inside, if the chickens were raised in the same conditions. Chickens kept in tiny cages who never get to see daylight or eat anything other than commercial chicken feed produce eggs that are less nutritious with pale yellow, flatter-looking yolks (when you crack them into a pan). Chickens who are allowed to pasture outside and eat greens and bugs produce more nutritious eggs with round, orange-colored yolks and thicker whites (albumin). These healthier eggs also taste so much better! The color of the shell is due to the breed of chicken and has nothing to do with the quality of the edible part of the egg–that is determined by what the hen eats and how healthy it is.


      • Smaaak says:

        I look forward to your videos ! But do take your time, we have so many projects on with just Blogging U alone !

        The New Zealand eggs said that on the carton, sometimes if their farm cannot serve up demand, they would source from other nearby farms. Think about exporting yours? 🙂

        Yes I know about the yolks and the albumin. I am so used to the weak yolks here that when suddenly I had to eat these big huge yellow yolks, I thought ‘ too much ! ‘ And the albumin is so watery as compared to the organic ones that leave the last bits hanging off the shell because they were so thick. Not to mention the egg shells are so weak that just a little pressure would break them. It’s harder to break the organic ones with the squeeze of the hands.
        I told you I am fascinated by eggs, that’s because I so love them for breakfast.
        I always thought eggs were eggs and wondered what the fuss was about organic or not, till I learnt that they were bred in sheds and never get to move anywhere and their poo does not get washed, so their acidic waste eats up their skin on their claws…omg……. I wasn’t sure to eat or not to eat anymore.
        Yes about the killing of the chicken.. no comment !

        But still the color of the eggs really fascinate me, especially after you line them up like that ! That photo makes for a classic one I’m telling you !

        Liked by 1 person

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