Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How I did this... [3]

When I made the transition to digital tools, one of the things I was interested in pursuing was wildlife photography. When I worked with film, I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money it took to practice the craft. I felt it would take too much film to "get it right". So I never bothered.

The digital equipment I purchased changed all that. As I read through the owners manual I realized that I could fire off over six images a second at fill clip and not have to spend any more money to try my hand at wildlife photography. I hoped the auto focus could keep up.

I shouldn't have worried. The AF is brilliantly fast, just so long as I keep the focus point on the portion of the subject that I really want in focus.

During the winter, my favorite bird is in abundance in the neighborhood I live in. They tend to roost together in very large numbers. As such, everything that looks promising to eat throughout the area is inspected, poked, prodded, and tested for its food value. These highly social birds work the ground looking to tasty treats in what seems like roving herds.

One late afternoon, as the sun was headed for the horizon, I spied a roving band of crows. They were working their way down the street looking for dinner. As soon as I parked the car and leap into the house to grab the camera, I was headed out the door with a wave to my wife and the words ".... I'll be back shortly..."

The birds were moving away from me. Every time I got "close" to these skittish eating machines they would move on down the road. Thinking it was me they were concerned about I felt rather dejected. The group of birds looked good and would make great subject matter, if only I could find a way to not scare them off.

Feeling desperate to get an image, any image, I crossed the street and tried to work my way ahead of the birds. I didn't look at them as I passed. I tried to look as non-threatening as I could. Then, three houses ahead of the pack, I crossed the street to their side, crouched down, and waited.

I damaged my knees in a motorcycle accident over two decades ago. So the squatting position was a little painful. The temperature was dropping with the sun. And the whole situation was tenuous at best. I was sure the birds would know I was there and fly off before they got within range of the lens I had on the camera.

I waited. I watched. I wondered. Sure enough, the feed hoards worked their way toward me. The excitement was killing me. So to speak.

I started taking pictures as soon as the birds filled a quarter of the frame. Still, they moved forward. Now I was shaking with excitement as some of the birds were nearly filling the view finder. The zoom was a boon in the situation as I could reframe without moving too much. All the birds could hear was the camera's shutter as I tried to capture as much as I could.

Crow - out looking for food

Suddenly, and quite without warning, the birds flew up into the trees over the road. There they sat squawking and yacking to each other. Something or someone had spooked them. My little photo session with the crows was finished.

Reviewing what I just captured back in the warmth of the house I could see some promise in the images in the camera. After processing and posting some of the photos up on my Flickr pages I could see that one image in particular was getting a lot of "hits". Currently, the views stand at well over 800 on this one. People seem to like it.

1 comment:

For The People said...

I can see why. That is a great shot!