Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 31, 2011

Preening Avocet

Filed under: behavior, Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, style — richditch @ 2:13 pm
American Avocet preening

American Avocet preening

The majority of my bird photos show the subject in habitat – I find these images more interesting than close up “feather studies” of a bird in a sterile setting of just a perch and a monotone background.

But I still try to find opportunities to work as much with the graphics of the composition as with the bird-in-habitat style. I did a lot more with graphics when I shot B&W in my first decade of photography so many years ago, but with avian subjects I always work in color and don’t find as many strong lines as with typical “B&W” subject matter.

This American Avocet gave me a chance to emphasize some strong graphic qualities at the Gilbert Water Ranch on January 28, 2011. This species shows nice rusty color on the head and neck in breeding plumage, but in winter plumage as seen here in is essentially a B&W bird.

By working with an isolated bird against a simple water background I was able to concentrate on the lines of the avocet. I got the typical head-up profile shot that we see in field guides, but I was more pleased with this head down image because the preening position distorts the usual shape of the bird. The reflection also adds to the graphics.

Although this was a pleasant session taking photos on the edge of pond 5 and talking quietly with a couple of the regular photographers there was a less pleasant incident as well. A guy with a spotting scope, binoculars, and field guide insisted on standing right behind us as we sat on the ground taking close photos. That happens a lot on busy days at the Water Ranch and normally it isn’t a problem as the birder keeps quiet and then moves on, but this guy insisted on dragging us into a discussion of Ringed Turtle Dove versus Eurasian Collared Dove field marks while he looked at both across the pond. I don’t mind talking birds or photography with anyone who shares common interests with me, but not when I’ve got a Lincoln’s Sparrow teasing me 10 feet away. I managed a couple of shots of this normally very shy species but not what I could have gotten given more time. Unfortunately the bird went back into hiding because of the lummox with dove on the brain.

So, please don’t bother photographers who have been patiently siting for a couple of hours getting the birds accustomed to their presence. If you want to jawbone wait until they’ve finished and are not actively engaged in photography of spooky subjects.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/1250th second at f/8, aperture preferred matrix meter at -2/3rd ev compensation.

Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. Nicely composed Rich, the reflection of the Avocet in that bent preening position is lovely, as is the background. Unfortunate about your experience with the obtuse birder. `

    Comment by Chuck Gangas — January 31, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  2. Rich,

    I find the pose, the setting, the light and your comp very appealing to me.

    “So, please don’t bother photographers who have been patiently siting for a couple of hours getting the birds accustomed to their presence. If you want to jawbone wait until they’ve finished and are not actively engaged in photography of spooky subjects.”

    I could not agree with you more on this, when I think about the shots I have missed because someone disturbed the birds after I took a long time approaching them or sitting still so as not to scare them off I get a bit ill.

    Comment by Mia — February 1, 2011 @ 6:55 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: