Side Tracked & More

Today I share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly to present us with an opportunity to learn. Thought is a birthright, but at the same time a privilege.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the many of the most compelling wildlife photos made, are those where the animal is looking at the photographer and therefore all future viewers, straight in the eyes. Just the same, a lot of pictures out of necessity (and design), are profiles or side views of one degree or another. Some work, and some do not. As is always the case with me, I wonder why.

Flat side views of animals, especially mammals, can be well, a little flat. It all depends on if and what, the animal is doing.

While any of these images are acceptable, I think the first two, one of a fox and one a ground squirrel, are pretty static and boring. I have a lot of images of both these species and I have them from every angle, but for today’s article, these are the most important.1FoxJuly2B 155

2FoxJuly2 101

Now this little kit fox’s action pose, helps make the side view more compelling.
This baby is clearly in action moving from right to left across the picture frame. It’s true that it is not paying any attention to us, in other words we have no personal connection to the fox, but clearly there is something (a mystery to us) of importance in that direction. That fact means we are engaged with this subject despite the fact that there is no eye contact.3Fox6 081

This Prairie Dog picture is a profile of sorts, as he/she is turned slightly to our right, but twisted strongly to our left. This combination or half profile image works okay. While the eyes are not looking at us for a personal connection, the twist implies action. We are voyeurs sneaking a peek.4DinoANWR 174

I think birds tend to work better in profile, but it is still a hit or miss proposition.

These Horned Grebes (first one in winter plumage) in the water work pretty well in various profiles.

Note that the winter bird is bent out and then back in, while the summer bird is has a flat body profile, although its head is turning towards us.  I think both work pretty well but I also think that we as viewers, demand less direct eye contact with birds than we do mammals.5BP 067c

6BP 196b

This side view of a seemingly chubby Tree Swallow, as it peers down from a nesting box, works even better. I want to see what he/she is looking at, but I am satisfied watching this cute little bird as it does its own impression of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”.

As an aside, the birds eye was lost in the darkness of its feathers when I first processed it. I circled the eye in Photoshop, and then added some exposure to only that area. That really brightened that white line around the eye, and that outline allowed us to realize the bird did in fact, have an eye.7HGrebe2 041

I like side profiles of American Bitterns. It shows their stretch, and how they attempt to blend in with grasses, weeds and Cattails. I got lucky while making this picture and one small crease of sun, put the eye in light. This is a natural history teaching pose.8Horiconb09 236

Multiple animals, with their bodies splayed out, make excellent profile shots. It doesn’t hurt when they are a species of bird (American Avocet)  which can be counted among nature’s coolest looking. Especially when you luck out (in early May) and find them in total breeding plumage. Twos or threes, it was a great morning.9BPixAvocets

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I notice that most wildlife photographers do not spend much time photographing vultures. I suppose that’s because they seem undesirable and ugly. I love vultures.

A week or so before this picture was made there were storms that caused an overflow at this location from a nearby stream. The waters then receded leaving many fish behind and the local Turkey Vultures had a feast. What could be better than rotten, raw fish. Sushi bars charge a fortune for this.

The light was flat so I just did what I could. There are about a half a dozen fish and two birds in this photo. Before I left, there were a dozen or so vultures on the ground, with one Red-tailed Hawk watching from the peanut gallery. Maybe trying to make up its mind whether sushi or vulture was on the menu.11TV3 032

Waterscapes with skies, do not have to mean mid-day bright blue skies or colorful sunrises and sunsets. I love working with stark scenes like these on cloudy days with subtle blues, grays and whites.

These are two different stretches of Lake Michigan . The top was made in April of 2009, and the beach shot was done in the dead of winter in February of 2006. There are an uncountable number of moods to convey through photography.12FoxnStuff 029

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Sunrises and sunsets are among my very favorite subjects. Below we have one of each.

This first image was made near the shores of Lake Michigan. That lake was my number one location (in my life) for sunrise pictures. I loved making images of this sort. One tree, starting a new day. An excellent subject for a silhouette, with a beautiful cloud bank. It’s almost impossible for a day like this to go wrong. Take notice, that the tree is composed ever so slightly off center.14SRhawkFox 016

This is an old film image (1986) and was created at the aptly named Sunset Point, in the Black Canyon of The Gunnison in Colorado. This image is an “almost” abstract as sunsets/sunrises make great subjects for the abstract treatment.15DSC_1154

As we close in on autumn, I’d like to share a few images from that season. I am sort of starting with the end today as I remind everyone, when you’re out making pictures of the fall season, even after the leaves have all fallen, look down and the season will resume. In fact, look down throughout autumn.16Cranes 112b

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God Bless,                                                                                                                                       Wayne

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