Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 6, 2009

A Pair of Pairs

Filed under: Birds, composition, digital benefits, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, style — richditch @ 5:53 pm
American Coots, Gilbert Water Ranch

American Coots, Gilbert Water Ranch

When the subject is free to move about wherever it chooses, the photographer is faced with challenges. You’ve got to hope that all the variables come together at one moment, and that you will have all the camera settings made properly, and that you will release the shutter at the proper instant to capture it all.

While one subject is difficult, two subjects become much more than twice as difficult. It is much less likely that both subjects will position themselves to best photographic advantage at precisely the same time, and the photographer needs to watch more things and spend more time waiting for that proper karmic alignment to occur.

This is also a good time to take advantage of the free nature of digital “catch and release” shooting: keep taking photos anytime there’s a chance for both subjects to cooperate. Then delete most of them after transfer to the computer when you’ll have the luxury of actually looking at body positions, catchlights in the eyes, depth of field, etc. Keep only the best.

Savannah Sparrows, Gilbert Water Ranch

Savannah Sparrows, Gilbert Water Ranch

In the first image of the American Coots at the Gilbert Water Ranch, I was able to take advantage of their relatively slow movements. I was delighted when I was able to get two birds together in similar positions but yet still have one bird dominant in the frame (the forward bird dominates by being shown completely, with the red eye visible and the yellow-green legs catching the light). Even nicer is the way the reflection doubles the birds again: effectively giving me four subjects with the ease of only two. This is a fairly formal composition, with strong symmetry and a minimum of compositional elements.

The Savannah Sparrows, also at the Water Ranch, don’t have the repetitive factors of the coots. Here the relationship makes both equally strong, but the left bird dominates from the side view. Even though the sparrows are separated by a lot of space they are still connected by size, color, and marking, but more importantly by the looks between them.


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