It seems like for at least 20 years I have been harping about the joy of not limiting yourself on the amount of differing photographic (at least nature) subjects we cover, and the various ways in which we photograph them. There is of course a viable school of thought about finding out what you do well, and sticking with that. I don’t necessarily disagree with that philosophy it is just that to me you are doing exactly that when you concentrate on photography. Photography of any one subject will relate to other subjects. It is all still part of that singular act that we call photography.
Most of the pictures I place in this blog, are meant to illustrate photo technique or to foster an opinion as to whether or not they constitute art. Sometimes it is to provoke the question as to what exactly is art. Today’s bird images are here just because birds are a truly enjoyable subject. The pictures below are not meant to be art, nor do they contain any unusual photo techniques. Some have never been shown and others have not been displayed for a long time.
I love photographing the nondescript, or plain birds. I am not sure why that is but maybe I am just trying to make sure they are not left out.
Our first two shots are of a Least Sandpiper. This bird makes a statement about what it is that a sandpiper will look like. Plain and looking like most of the less spectacular sandpipers, these guys always pose nicely for me, and allow a nice close approach. This one was photographed along the shores of Lake Michigan near Racine’s Wind Point lighthouse.
One of my favorite birds wears a simple gray with black. This Northern Mockingbird was photographed in Guadalupe Mountains N.P. in Texas while on a sensational early 2006 trip. I was waiting for the light to change so I could make a more compelling landscape image when to my delight, this NMB landed near-by.
Our next species is Brown Pelicans and they are equally interesting birds and were photographed on the same trip as the Mockingbird. The shots were made in Rockport, Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. The first picture is a winter plumage, or immature (likely) bird while the yellow head of the bird in the second picture means we have a mature bird just coming into breeding plumage.
I thought the next image (Rockport, Texas again) is interesting because of having so many species in one shot. I was using my 500mm lens and that prohibited me from gaining enough depth of field to cover everyone with focus. Just out of my picture frame were some Black Skimmers and one Willet and a Great-blue Heron. In the picture frame we have mature and immature Brown Pelicans, White Pelicans, Double-crested and Neo Tropical Cormorants and a couple of Laughing Gulls.
Those of you who live in my part of the world (in the Midwestern U.S.) are used to seeing enormous flocks of Canada Geese. If you are a serious birder I am sure that you have located a few migrating Snow Geese as well. In parts of the western and eastern U.S. this experience is flipped. Huge flocks of Snow Geese inhabit New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache NWR during the winter months. This rather monochromatic image is a reference shot of a small portion of one flock.
One of the interesting things about nature as a photographic subject is that it can be different things to different people. I know people for whom nature is science and only science. There are yet others for which nature is art or a religion. I would imagine that it can be a combination of all of these things for many. I am forever amazed at some “scientists” and their condescending attitude to all others. There is one thing I have learned in life, and it is that pretty much anything that we believe in strongly requires a “leap of faith”. Yes even science. In most cases you do not make your own mathematical calculations on every bit of science. You have faith that someone did their work correctly. It takes even more faith to accept that the truth can be reached via those calculations. As microscopically complex as nature is, how do you know that there is not something else at work that is beyond your current knowledge base? It is because you have faith. Some people believe that nature was created by a higher being. That requires a major leap of faith. The scientist believes that all of these trillions of often atomic details work in an incomprehensible and perfect fashion, all through a random series of events. That too requires an enormous leap of faith.
My personal believe is that there is indeed a real science that can explain nature at a basic level. I admit that the truth of that statement cannot be proved by me beyond doubt. Not even in six thousand years. Or a million, or a billion. It requires faith. I also do not believe that the human being is the supreme master of this random act of fate (as some would suggest) that is called the universe. I live happily in my faith.
Art is always a matter of opinion. I have spent much time in my life making images of birds and other nature subjects, that would show all of the proper markings as to allow for a proper identification. That has never meant (to me) that I cannot also interpret beautiful light and make artful images of those same subjects. I am a nature photographer and light and other “natural” conditions are subjects just as much as that bird that is bathed in that special light. Nature photography provides sustenance for the heart and soul as well as the brain. Of course many scientists will tell you that the heart is merely an organ (science) in the body and the soul has never been found by science.
Being skeptical and asking the hard questions of religion and science is to me, a good thing. It is how I have lived my life. I have however, never found the mind of those who are religious, to be any more closed to information, than the mind of the scientist. There is a difference between being skeptical and cynical.
It requires a leap faith for both the spiritually and scientific based among us.
Thank you and God Bless