Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1st Post - The Story Behind the Photographs - Bluebird

I have kicked around the idea of starting a blog for while now, and finally decided to get my feet wet.  I follow several photography blogs that provide great content, but most of them are missing something.  Most of them talk about the latest gear, or basic tips for improving your photography.  All of that is great and I enjoy reading that type of info, but there is something else that I like to read, but rarely find on the blogs I visit.  That missing piece is the story behind the image.

For my first step into the blogging world I thought it would be fun to document the story, and the process behind how and why I created a particular image.

With spring in the air, my mind drifts to spring migration, and the many birds that will be passing through and returning to the midwest.  Spring is the time I go out and clean my five nest boxes in preparation for the eastern bluebirds.  Of the five boxes, only one has anything living in it this year.  I'm happy to report that the occupants of this box are indeed eastern bluebirds and not house sparrows.

In the past, I have made some successful images by sitting a distance away from the nest boxes, and shooting the birds with a long lens.

That wasn't enough.  I wanted to get closer and really fill the frame with the brightly colored birds.  I built a 40' long cable release for my camera, and set it up on a tripod with a 100mm lens a short distance from box and waited.  It worked pretty well, but still wasn't what I was looking for.  With the narrow field of view from the 100mm lens, and not being able to adjust the composition from 40' away, I needed to try something else.  After the young fledged, I put the long release away, and forgot about it for a couple of years.

When the birds returned this spring, I decided to go a step beyond what I had done in the past and create something new.  I pulled the long cable release out of the closet.  I set my tripod even closer to the nest box.  Instead of being a few feet from the box, I set up a few inches from it.  I attached a 16mm fisheye lens to the camera, and waited.  With the close perspective and the wide angle view, I was able to capture an image that I hadn't even thought of in the past.

I have several images that I have created of these birds with a long lens, but they are all lacking something.  That something is the feeling of intimacy.  I like those images, but they don't capture that feeling that I was after.  This image does, at least for me.  This image tells a different story than the other images I created, and gives the viewer a unique perspective.

I am very happy with this image, but that doesn't mean I'm done using this technique.  Since I created this image, I have began to experiment with this same set up, but also including some fill flash.  Now that the chicks have hatched, the adult bluebirds are much more active at the nest and providing more opportunities to create more photographs.  All of those hungry mouths to feed means that they are coming and going much more often.  The additional element of having a meal ready for the chicks adds even more to the story.

This last image, isn't my final image, but another step in the evolution of creating a photograph.