As I have said in a few other blog post, I thought it would be fun to get into more wildlife photography. Since the move to Whidbey, I have found that my backyard is a zoo. We have whales, seals, sea otters, deer, rabbits, squirrels and countless other furry and not so furry friends. And the birds, there are more actual birds and varieties than I can count or yet identify. So for me right now, it is pretty easy to find some critter to photograph.
Finding the critter and getting a good photograph are two entirely different things. A lot of the animals around the neighborhood are used to people and so they don’t flush to quickly, so I have been lucky in that regard. But even if they are used to people, there is only so close that you can get without them moving on, and I also don’t want to disturb them if at all possible. This time of year they have a lot going on getting ready for winter, adjusting to the changing seasons not to mention my annoying presence.
In order to help me start to better understand some of the key concepts in backyard wildlife photography, I turned to Moose Peterson. He is a great mentor and has shared tons of great advice on wildlife work. He talks about a couple of things that I have been concentrating on as I start on this little backyard project. The first is showing some sort of the surrounding and environment that the critter lives in. This helps to provide some context and understanding of the biology way the animal lives, and offers up more than just a face. It also requires me to think about the background to make sure that it isn’t a distraction. The second is the gesture that happens with the various creatures. Some a change in posture, a flap of a wing or the tilt of the head. Those moments tell us a lot about the animal and help us connect to the work. So each day I head out trying to think about those two things as I get started on my wildlife adventures.
As I was out this weekend, I parked myself by a swing set that sits down by the beach. Over the past several months, I have seen a lot of birds hang out in the morning on the top cross beam of the swing set. Sure enough after some time a few birds came in to rest. I careful watched through the viewfinder waiting for them to move to action. In the image above you can see, that a couple of the birds are starting to take flight. I was focused on the bird in the center of the frame with his wing extended in the photo, When that wing lifted I was pretty excited that I might get one of those gestures and a little more excitement of the shot as they all flew off together. That excited resulted in a rather heavy handed over focus you see below. In my excited state as the birds lifted off, I over cranked on the focus ring and got nothing in focus. Rather than what I saw in my head of breathtaking birds in flight, I got blobs of black that mine as well be dust spots.
So while the intention was good, the execution was not, but that is a great thing about photography, each day is a new lesson about what goes well and what does not. So as I head out again today, you can be sure that I’ll keep a better handle on that excitement. I am sure after a few thousand more trips out and clicks, I’ll have something really special. Until them, just have to keep clicking.