A Few Birds and a Fisherman

I’ve changed the blog tagline but not the name. “Personal notes and thoughts on bird activity—and human activity, too!—in and around SE Virginia” is now “Personal notes and thoughts on birds, bird photography, and, on occasion, human life.”

It’s interesting. Since leaving the Coastal Plain of Virginia, I’ve said to myself and others a number of times that I’ll have many fewer opportunities to take bird photographs in South Central Pennsylvania. How wrong I was. I started right where I left off. I’ve taken hundreds of bird photos here. Now, my keeper rate, or ratio of keepers to photos taken, is a whole different story. I discussed “keeper rate” in “Some Elements of a Good Photo.”

The Green Heron

Speaking of keepers, here’s a definite one. This is a juvenile Green Heron perched on a fallen tree in a pond in Lower Allen Twp., PA. The photo is busier than I’d like, but I don’t care. The bird stands out, the background is complimentary, and the perspective is unique (and one I’ve never captured). The bird looks more 2D than 3D.

Juvenile Green Heron
Juvenile Green Heron

I felt right at home taking the pic. I lived near a Green Heron colonial nesting site in VA and visited the site often. If you’re interested, I described the colony in “A Green Heron Colony.” It’s a fun read and popular piece. I think it’s popular (or has drawn interest) because most people don’t think of “Greenies” as colonial, which they are. Here’s another view—a 3D view—of the same bird. These birds are the epitome of focus and concentration.

Juvenile Green Heron
Juvenile Green Heron

The Great Blue Heron

Here’s a Great Blue Heron in the same spot, but a few days earlier—and earlier in the morning. This photo’s a keeper, too. A photographer friend who saw it responded this way, “The side/backlit effect works well on this image. Nicely-captured, David!” The bird was, indeed, both backlit and sidelit. I spotted it from a distance and knew I had a fighting chance to capture it if it didn’t flush. Fortunately, it didn’t. Notice the light shining through the upper leg and lower bill.

Adult Great Blue Heron
Adult Great Blue Heron

I took this shot of the bird moments later.

Adult Great Blue Heron
Adult Great Blue Heron

You’ll note that I continued to use the word “human” in the tagline. I may be a bird photographer, but I still enjoy going back to my street photography roots. I still get a kick out of capturing and documenting what people do in their daily lives.

The Fisherman

With that in mind, here’s a photo I took recently at Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County. I went there to shoot birds, but I couldn’t resist taking this. I took it shortly after I arrived and just as the subject was about to disappear in the morning fog. Some photographers speak of their work as trying to make the unseen visible. I could certainly make a case that that’s what I did here. 

Fisherman on Pinchot Lake
Fisherman on Pinchot Lake

After I took the photo, I decided to post it on the Photo Critique Forum at FM Forums. I like submitting my better work there for feedback. All who viewed it told me it needed more negative space. One of the members put it like this: “Creating more negative space will add more mystery and invite the viewer to imagine the rest of the image/story. Doing so will also add better feelings of solitude, and relaxation.” He then spent some time retouching the photo and came up with this. I think it’s an improvement over the original and a much stronger image. What do you think?

Fisherman on Pinchot Lake
Fisherman on Pinchot Lake

And This Just In

I described sending another photo to FM Forums in “Anatomy of A Photo Shoot Part Three.” That photo didn’t feature a fisherman, but a gentleman doing bodyweight squats in a schoolyard. You’ll enjoy both the original and the monochrome version.

I provided a link to a Digital Photography School article about negative space. It’s well worth reading if you haven’t done so already. To entice you, here’s the first line: “Sometimes it’s nice and refreshing to just strip a photo or scene down to it’s absolute bare essentials.” 

Quip, Question, Quote

Instead of a quip, question, or quote, I thought I’d share another photo. Everything seemed to come together for this one. A portrait photographer would call it a head shot. Whatever it’s called, it’s definitely a keeper.

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

11 thoughts on “A Few Birds and a Fisherman

  1. Always enjoy reading blog and especially your pictures and commentary about them. As for The Fisherman, in my honest opinion I would prefer something in-between those two shots. This comes from someone who is just learning how to take pictures but I know what I like when I see a good shot.

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  2. Dave – after all the (VA) “greenie” photos you have taken, I am really happy to know a PA greenie provided you with a perspective you had not yet captured. It was a “welcome to PA” pose. 🙂 You said it best with “The bird looks more 2D than 3D!”

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    1. Thanks, Laura, and I like your “welcome to PA pose.” It’s been wonderful finding and photographing Green Herons here. Someone wrote me and told me that the Green Heron is my “signature bird.” I guess that’s the case. Have you birded Money Point?

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  3. Personally, I like your original photo of the fisherman in the boat in the fog over the edited versions. I like the “nearness” of it and can almost “hear the silence” in the original.

    I really have enjoyed your blog over the years and was excited to learn you were relocating to a part of PA where my old stomping grounds were – Carlisle, PA. There is lots of great birding in that area. In case you were unaware, there is a great fall hawk watch at Waggoner’s Gap just a few miles from Carlisle. The watch starts in August and continues through December. It is a great place to see most hawk species and both golden and bald eagles, as well as, other birds. And, it is more accessible (shorter climb from the parking lot) and less crowded than the more famous Hawk Mountain, north of Harrisburg, PA.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and really glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. Your thoughts about the Pinchot Lake photo are noted. Love Waggoner’s Gap. Have been there several times in the past, and hope to visit again.

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