Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 27, 2009

Keep going back

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 2:52 pm
Gila Woodpecker on Saguaro fruit

Gila Woodpecker on Saguaro fruit

Many photographers depend on travel to new locations to provide inspiration for their images, and there’s no denying that seeing a place for the first time is exciting and rewarding photographically.

But I don’t think it is necessary to travel to new places (or to see “new” birds) to make exciting images. It can be just as rewarding to keep going back to favorite familiar places and see “old” subjects in new ways.

I spend a lot of time at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ – 2-3 hours at a time on a typical morning visit that I try to make a couple of times each week. There’s plenty of ground to cover via a series of paths around seven shallow impoundments used to recharge the ground water with treated waste water. Water levels change daily in the ponds, so you never can be sure what conditions will be like for any visit.

By visiting so many times since the facility opened as community open space I’ve seen over 280 species of birds there, and I have learned where certain species prefer to feed or roost, and what species will likely be around at any time of year.

But even though I’ve seen and photographed the “regular” species a lot at the Water Ranch, I still pay attention to them when I visit. And being alert pays off, as with the Gila Woodpecker hanging from the fruit of a Saguaro Cactus to feed on the sweet pulp. I’ve got a lot of shots of this species in an upright position on the side of the cactus, just as you’d expect to see a woodpecker. I’ve also got my share of shots of young birds peeking out of nest cavities while a parent brings food. But I’ve only seen this feeding behavior once, and I could easily have missed it if I didn’t keep going back and didn’t pay attention to the “common” species.

ISO 200, 1/160th second at f/8, D200, 300/2.8 and 2x converter, 06/06/07

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