Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

New Life

One of my reasons for “giving up” bird photography a few years ago was that the danged things just wouldn’t act (or pose) the way I wanted them to.  I always thought that that was incredibly inconsiderate of them, especially given the amount of money I’d spent on lenses that allowed me to fill the frame with their relatively small selves.  Not to mention that I was never very good at it.

But yesterday provided new opportunity.  Mostly because I almost tripped over these guys while walking along the shore of Irondequoit Bay.  I’d been trying to find “interesting” pictures of fishermen on the bay and lake, but those guys weren’t cooperating, either.  I did have a nice discussion with one of them, though.  He’d seen my camera and decided I’d be a good person to ask how the local newspaper made those neat panoramic images that he liked.  So I told him about multiple, stitched images created in Photoshop.  But he’d never heard of Photoshop.  Or “stitching”.  So I guess he knew less about photography than I know about fishing (which isn’t much).

Anyway, off I went in search of more fishermen.  As I walked along the bay, I noticed a large male mute swan paying more attention to me than I would have expected.  Which got my attention.  These are very large birds and they’re very strong.  I’ve read stories of people getting broken arms or legs from these critters.  Then he started to hiss at me – not a good sign.  Hissing swans mean pissed off swans.  And then I saw the nest.  With a female and 6 very young babies.  If you look closely at the image, you can see one more unhatched egg just below her left wing.

So, with a close eye on daddy, I got out my 200 mm lens and started shooting.  Couldn’t get the “pose” I wanted, however.  Darned things just wanted to keep taking naps or looking out at Dad.  This was probably the best shot I got, and it ain’t all that wonderful.

But I did learn something: Giving up on bird photography was a pretty good idea.


4 Responses to “New Life”

  1. oneowner

    As bird shots go, this is really pretty good, Paul. I, too, gave up on birds long ago since I knew I could never afford to purchase the right equipment to make it feasible. I know some people that are very good at it and they have studied birds and know where to go to get the best shots. They’ll set up a blind and wait patiently for hours to get the shot they want. Some will set up multiple cameras and portable flash units with enough firepower to light up the Grand Canyon at night for their shots. Bird photography takes a dedication I could only dream of.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Ken. Yep, I’m with you. It’s very costly (to do it “right”) and it requires enormous amounts of patience. And, of course, you have to love doing it. Well, I’m not rich, I’m not terribly patient, and the “love” wasn’t there. Easy decision for me, I guess.

  2. Cedric

    I never gave up on bird photography because I never started. By the sounds of it that might be one of the few smart things I’ve done in my life 😉

    I actually quite like your image Paul but that blade of grass hiding the chick’s head is rather annoying. You’d think that chick would have had the decency to turn the other way. Damn birds.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Cedric. Actually, there’s a few stalks of grass in there that annoyed the hell out of me. But this was the only angle possible. And you can talk all day to those stupid birds and ask them to move or turn around and they just won’t pay attention………


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