Archive for ‘Ecuador’

April 8, 2012

You Don’t Always Get What You Thought You Wanted

When I started out in photography, I would have described my style as journalistic or realistic.  I wanted to capture what I saw in front of me–a literal capture of the moment.  Certainly, I wanted drama and impact in the image, but I felt as though I should be recording and reflecting the reality of what I saw.  As the years have passed and I have had a chance to travel and capture a wide array of images, my style has changed and shifted toward something slightly more impressionistic.  I still try to record reality, but I also give myself the opportunity to move beyond that.  The longer I can give myself with an event or scene, the more I allow my technique to wander.  And that is how my love of motion blur has developed.  It may now be my favourite photographic style.

This image was captured in Yasuni National Park along the Rio Napo in Ecuador. As anyone who has worked in rain forest regions can attest, rain forests are dark places.  I hiked into an area of salt licks where a variety of parrot species would gather to consume the minerals from the cliff face.  The distance of the viewing platform from the cliff and the low light really limited the photographic opporunities available.  And I had lugged my 300mm 2.8 a long way!  After watching the scene for a while, a certain routine was apparent among the birds.  They would gather in a fairly dense flock, staging themselves on trees near the lick, and taking turns to drop down into the mud or perch along the narrow ledges on the cliff.  As the numbers of birds increased, something would inevitably startle them and the entire flock would lift into the air with raucous calls and fly off, only to return a few minutes later and repeat the entire process.  I watched the flock lift a few times, and set my tripod and 300 mm lens up in an area that seemed to be a fairly regular part of the flight path when the birds would startle.

I am sure I could have adjusted my settings somewhat, but this was at ISO800, f18, 1/30 second. The birds are Cobalt-winged Parakeets, Brotogeris cyanoptera.  This is one of my favourite images from Ecuador, and probably one of my favourite images ever.  When I first arrived at the salt lick, I intended to capture some great, sharp, images of birds eating the red clay.  I could have allowed myself to be frustrated at the light conditions and the distance, instead, I examined my location and adapted. In photography, it is great to have a plan but it is even better to be flexible. You never know what you might end up with.

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