Searching for Birds

September 03, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

The other day I visited the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center near Lincoln, Nebraska. I picked the day because it was going to be overcast. There was no particular plan in place. No prior research was done. No specific target bird was chosen. I just basically walked around trying to find some birds to photograph. It was not easy. For some reason there were not that many birds out that day. I have visited the place on a few occasions before and kind of knew where I could find birds to photograph, but this time, those same spots yielded no birds. The entire time I was there (about half a day), only gave me four bird images, and they are not the best. So photographically speaking, I was a bit disappointed. But what can we learn from the experience?

Light changes fast

While it was overcast I got this image:

Just a few minutes later it started to rain. It was not pouring rain but more than a drizzle. This weather change changed the lighting, the mood of the image, and resulted in a totally different picture:

Notice that the atmosphere of this image is just darker, a bit more gloomy. Yet, the rain drops in the air adds to the image. The rain just lasted for a few minutes and the light changed again:

So when the conditions change quickly we need to be ready and work fast. My camera was out, even in the rain (check first to see if it is safe for your equipment, as some gear is more weather sealed than others). I kept walking, searching for images. While these images are not the best, I still had a good time and I like the images.

Perches matter

Look at the perch of the first and the third images. It is interesting. It does not distract from the bird. There are no twigs in front or behind the bird. This is a pleasing perch. Compare this to the perch of the second image which just is not that clean. You have a twig seemingly poking the bird from behind. Then there is the twig at the back of the bird that does not add to the image. Now with image editing tools those twigs can be removed. And sometimes I do remove distracting little twigs from my images. But if you can help it, pick perches that are photogenic.

          Now in nature we cannot control where the bird is going to sit but we can choose which shots we shoot. We can linger around an area that provides good perches rather than waste our time being in an area where the perches are too cluttered, too high (which leads to shooting the birds from below and having the sky as a background), or that does not offer a good background. Good backgrounds are further away from the bird. The further away from the bird the better so that the background can be blurred better.

Stay where the action is

I walked all over the property searching for birds in vain. It seemed as though, at least for the time that I was there, the bird activity were confined to a few areas. It would have been better for me to stay there rather than walk all over to find nothing. As long as there are birds in the area, stay there. Stay where the action is.

Just be alert

These little guys often do not stay long. They come and go. Be alert. Watch them. Be ready. We don't want to miss shots because we only saw the bird just as it flew off. Constantly look around, in all directions.




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