Many readers enjoyed the American Black Duck photo in the last blog, “Be There,” and several asked me about the EXIF or image file data. Here’s the photo once again. And here’s the data: Canon EOS R5 EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4x III lens 700mm f/8 1/2000s 1600 ISO.
Here, also, are some of my thoughts about the photo: Though there’s a lack of detail and color and some blown highlights, I still like it. I like the rim lighting, the wing action, and the suspended droplets. Note the f/8 aperture setting. I was @ f/8, and I was there.
Here’s a 3/4 view (my favorite view) of the same bird. I took it toward the end of the bathing frenzy. The data I just shared applies to this shot, as well.
Thoughts on Photography
As I look at the above 2 photos and consider other work I’ve done, I think about one of the things that guides me as a photographer. Whenever I head out with my camera, I do so with the goal of recording bird behavior—and sometimes human behavior—that might otherwise go unseen. Some photographers speak of their work as trying to make the unseen visible. That’s my goal, too. I’m reminded of this description of street photography: “Street Photography tends to be spontaneous and seeks to capture a moment – or a split second – that would have, without the photographer’s intervention, gone unnoticed.” I think about that quote often.
Speaking of recording human behavior and special moments, here’s a mid-December(!) photo of a young lady in a wetsuit paddleboarding Pinchot Lake in York County, PA. She paddleboarded the entire length several times. I visited the park that morning to capture the Red-headed Woodpeckers that had been feeding and storing food there. I sure didn’t expect to see anything like this.
Here’s one of the Red-headeds. It spent a good deal of time on the ground searching for acorns. One of its favorite spots was the Gravel Trail where walkers had crushed the nuts underfoot. I positioned myself near the trail to take full advantage.
Now, here’s a more dramatic and better overall photo, courtesy of Tom Stoddard. Talk about a special moment. This is the same bird doing battle with an intruder. Red-headeds are fierce defenders of their territories and will go to great lengths to keep other birds out. Here, it’s not defending mating and nesting territory, it’s defending feeding and roosting territory. Territoriality isn’t just a breeding season phenomenon.
Let me end with this—and let’s circle back to “Be There.” I wrote that blog in part to encourage you to get out there with your camera whether or not conditions are favorable or photo opportunities abound. The following sums up what I was trying to say. This was part of a talk I gave recently. “Bring the camera. Shoot even if you’re facing the sun, or it’s mid-afternoon on a cold winter day, or it’s cold and gray and the lighting stinks. Shoot on dreary mornings when rain is predicted, or when you’re deep in the woods, or there’s nothing around but a Great Blue Heron and some juncos. Shoot even if you have to shoot through brush or other obstacles, or you have to blow out part of the background to expose for the subject.”
In the next blog, we’ll take a look at some of those scenarios, so please stay tuned.
And This Just In
Imagine using your palms as oars. This is how I’d prefer to do it—though maybe without that outfit.
Why do I and so many wildlife shooters like a 3/4 view? Because you can see both the front and the side—or most—of the subject. Note especially the first Red-headed shot.
If you’re interested in street photography or photography in general, check out this short bio of Gyula Halász, a member of the International Photography Hall of Fame.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of few birds that stores food for later use. And it may be the only bird that covers up that food with things like pieces of wood or bark. Think of the memory required to find that food later on, and the forethought required if “later use” means use during the colder months.
Quip, Question, Quote
“Being present and having a camera is the number one influence on your ability to create photography. A photograph worthy situation can occur at any time and any place in any circumstance. Keep your camera nearby.” Kyle Reynolds