There were reports of Mountain Bluebirds at Montlake Fill, which drew me away from the Sunday paper and down the hill to check. Per usual, there were a line of people with binos and big lenses standing in a row along the path, which is the easiest way to find good birds, I've found. Off in a hawthorne perched a female Bluebird. It's the first one sighted here in a couple of decades.
I had my camera with my biggest lens attached, a 400mm, which meant my Daily Photo was going to be a bird. Not this one—it was a hundred yards off. I left the mob and wandered.
The lovely thing about bird photography is that it forces patience. I can hover over an interesting bird for a few minutes, and I get connected with the landscape and where I am and all that, and then I go off to see what else might be about. I'm not the most patient of observers—I'm a bit of a novelty junkie. When my goal is to get an interesting image of a bird, I have to invest a lot more time and attention. I really get focussed on my presence and where I'm standing.
These Common Mergansers are a case in point. Ah, lovely birds, let's see what else is out there, would have been my typical response. With a camera, I stood for ten minutes to see what would unfold. I watched the female in the middle raise up and spread her wings, and then I saw a lone male move in. I was thinking about composition and positioning, and waited for the pieces of the shot to come together in some interesting array. Birds, even slow moving swimming birds, are dynamic, unpredictable subjects, and it requires a ton of effort to make even a common image. With a camera I spend much more time observing, and learning. Later I sat and spent some quality time with a Red-winged Blackbird as it gleaned for bugs on a floating snag. Its red epaulets were stunning, as the log appeared to be on a territory boundary, and there was another blackbird with an opinion, displaying just as vigorously.
The photographs are a nice byproduct of the encounter. But the more intensively I push my photographic craft, the deeper I engage with my surroundings.
Flickr results here.