Initially, I was interested in capturing the movement of the man throwing bread crumbs to the gulls, who would in turn catch the crumbs in midair. Later, as I was reviewing photos from the day, I became fascinated by the interplay between the lines that could be drawn between the gulls in the air and the shadows cast on the pavement by the trees just out of the frame.
One of my favorite black and white toning tricks is to pull down the blues so that the sky and water take on a more dramatic look and bump up the overall contrast of the photograph. This really brings out the texture of the clouds in the sky, as opposed to the sky looking like a boring mass of gray paste.
Here’s another photo from my birding exploits. In this instance, the joy was more in the hunt than in the actual photo. I saw this red-bellied woodpecker near the edge of the path and ended up following him through the woods for the better part of half an hour.
It was February, but not brutally cold, and so I remember working up a bit of a sweat tracking him through the forest. He led me through thickets, over brambles, and across dead logs. I finally got close enough to get a few shots, but I would have loved to have been even closer. Still, a beautiful bird and an enjoyable memory.
Dyke Marsh is a little retreat just south of Old Town. There’s a short walking path that leads out into the heart of the marsh, with nice views of the Potomac. In order to get this photo of the egret, I wandered off the path a bit. The backlighting was beautiful at this time of day and I hung out in this cove for a while, enjoying my time with this graceful creature.
My first love in photography was shooting landscapes. By extension, I became interested in shooting wildlife: birds, in particular. There’s something thrilling about tracking down a bird, stalking it, and then shooting it. It’s sort of like hunting except without all of the—you know—death.
I’ve had mixed results in my bird photography exploits. Most of my more successful shots are of larger birds because I don’t have a massive telephoto lens (which is practically a requirement for filling the photo frame with a smaller bird). If anyone would like to donate $17,000, I promise it would go directly towards an 800mm lens.
Luckily, the red-winged blackbirds at Huntley Meadows are super patient. The best time to photograph them, typically, is late afternoon. The sun is at a more flattering angle, the light is warm in color, and these little guys are content to just perch and sing. I’ve been able to get really close to them and most of the birds don’t seem to mind at all.
The photo directly above was actually taken during late morning, but I like the muted color palette in contrast to the golden hour shot taken at the top of this post. I also like the superbly dreamy background, thanks to the good amount of distance between the bird and the trees in the distance. Like I said before, these birds have been really patient for me so it’s fun to hang out with one for a while, and capture their range of poses and emotions.