There’s nothing in nature photography that’s more fun than watching and photographing shorebirds. The images below are of three of my favorite types of shorebirds, the Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone and the Spotted Sandpiper. All of the images were made along one stretch of beach.
Along the shores of Lake Michigan north of Racine, Wisconsin is a narrow stretch of beach where dozens of species of shorebirds spend time. I have photographed a dozen different types there myself. There is nothing like sitting on the beach with tripod and camera, and having birds come close enough that at times they touch you. They have perched briefly on my leg as they make their journey along the sand, rocks and surf in search of invertebrates.
I have always been a believer that when you are on the road headed for a landscape destination, keep your photographic eyes working every mile of the journey. I have made a lot of landscapes at the side of the road. Every place doesn’t need to have a name, and an entrance booth. Of course when your trip is through the Rocky Mts. You might find yourself stopping frequently.
The five images below were made along the Arkansas River in Colorado. I tried to ignore this area and keep going but the power of the roadside drew me in. I set up and made careful, thoughtful images, but I only made five of them. I have never shown them together before. I moved the tripod around a bit and zoomed in an out but none of these images are crops from one of the others, and they are in the order I made them.
In a recent article I wrote on depth of field and critical focus in wildlife photography, I mentioned the time-honored trick of always shooting for the eyes first. Get the eyes sharp and work your way forward, and then back as you find you can extend your depth of field. This North Dakota Black-tailed Prairie Dog is a great example of critical focus. Despite downsizing to a 300mm lens from my 500mm, and using an f stop of 7.1, the fact that this critter is not parallel to my camera but instead runs back into the picture frame at an angle, means the vast majority of the animal is out of focus. I placed my focus right in front of the eye. 7.1 was just enough DOF to cover the nose and face.
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are always so chubby. I enjoy them immensely but given the choice I prefer their slimmer but less common cousins, the White-tailed Prairie Dogs.
In pre-internet years when I was dealing (as a photographer) with editors, I had a fair idea what they would want in accordance to which publications they worked for. I made some mistakes for sure, but I understood it pretty well. Since coming to the internet in the 1990s, and selling prints as well as sharing images in an untold number of places, I have constantly misjudged what people would like and what they would not. I have come to realize that people like certain types of sunrise/sunset images, and they certainly do love owls, eagles, and most of all foxes. It never ceases to amaze me how when I have been sharing some images that haven’t gotten much attention, all I need to do is post (anywhere) pictures of the subjects listed above and people come out of the woodwork. This is especially true of foxes. I guess I was very fortunate to have a few consecutive years of prime experiences with Red Foxes
My articles on compositional rules (I should have used the term tools), and cloudy day landscapes, continue to out pace the readership in anything else I have ever written on these pages. I guess I am good with that because those posts are about teaching and I love teaching, but I will admit that there are probably 30 posts that were more profound or at least written more from the heart, that I would rather people read. Just like foxes and owls are more popular than macros of dew drops or abstract shots of waves, I guess none of us can really choose what people will like the most. I will just be grateful that Earth Images, who’s name has become time-honored, still holds an interest for those who care about photography.
Thank you and God Bless, Wayne