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July 25, 2017
Chasing The Light - Exploiting Nature With Exciting Action Shots
This must be prefaced with a disclaimer: The creatures recorded by this shooter have been captured through a constant routine of going to nature preserves, parks and natural formations like the Mogollon Rim and its many trails in and around; Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Payson, Tonto Creek, Roosevelt Lake, Whiteriver, Sitgreaves National Forest, and Tonto National Forest, the White Mountain Apache Reservation, and the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
It must be noted by visiting these places on a regular routine basis some wildlife will adjust to your presence, as long as you do not disturb them, frighten them, or attempt to get too close to them. No sudden movements, no constant and/or relentless eye contact, and no attempts to approach them directly.
The camera was always taken. It was not always used. These images were garnered over a long period of time. As a serious amateur of shooting wildlife many of these places were visited over and over, and over again. There were occasions when only a decent sunrise or sunset was captured.
In Arizona, even those two items are gloriously fantastic especially when you know when to ‘take the shot.’ Thank you Dennis Fendler for that phrase, so often repeated at the many rodeos we shot and shared. The ‘money shot’ phrase is one this photographer has come to disdain and refuses to use in a photographic context.
Many images shot by this photographer are aviary in nature. Having a fascination with flight, birds, and their beauty has dictated somewhat the images captured. Many species, like humans, are creatures of routine, and predicability. Barn swallows, for example, will nest in the relative same area unless forced out by other birds or humans. This made it relatively easy to photograph nests of fledgling chicks.
Ospreys, eagles, cormorants, great blue heron, great white egrets, red tail hawks, and Stellar’s Jays, are common is Arizona. This makes finding and shooting them relatively easy. The hard part is being able to find and frequent their favorite areas.
Most waterfowl are seasonal and also have favorite wet spots. The two best times of year to capture them with a long lens is Spring and Fall. As they pass through various ponds, lakes, and nesting areas, sit tight and wait.
Eventually, surprising shots will present themselves. The learned lesson here is patience. Your repetitive appearance at their favorite spots will present you with startling images. Wait, wait, wait. Be still, be silent, be ready.
A simple habit has reaped a multitude of shots. By constantly holding the camera up to my eye and covering the face, birds cannot see your eyes. No visual clues are given for them to read. Slow movement, knowing your surroundings, and boundaries will make an approach easier.
One can train the mind to keep both eyes open while shooting. Your dominant eye in the viewfinder, focusing on the subject, while your other eye is looking at the surrounding area, maintaining a safe environment. This practice has been used for many years, and has been a great help in getting ‘the shot.’
Next stop: Sunrise or Sunset? Which one are you?
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