Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Postcards from the Edge

There are two relationships in a photograph that give it a distinct look. The distance from the camera to the subject and the distance from the subject to the background. The second factor determines how much blur the image will have. Different length lens give these two related factors their unique photographic qualities. Sometimes, everything comes together just right to produce the characteristics you look for in a picture. That happened in this image. Beyond that, I like the classic look of the waterfowl (Mallard) in flight.

It wasn't until after I returned home that I realized this Sandpiper was probably not a Lesser Yellowlegs, but a Greater Yellowlegs. I did notice a couple of things that were different about it. For one thing, it was by itself. And, for another, it had a fairly loud call. It also seemed slightly larger. But the clue that did it for me — and unfortunately you cannot see it in this image — is that the bill is slightly upturned. A Lesser Yellowleg's bill is not. And too, the legs are more vividly orange.

I go to the marsh to film the more exotic birds, but I am not averse to photographing the more "mundane" birds in the right setting. If this had been a Red-winged Blackbird (RWBB) on a limb with nothing else in the picture, I probably would have passed. But, the pine cones add a layer of information about it's environment, giving the picture more depth. I could wish the sky was a more colorful blue, but to do that, the bird would have had to have been a black blob. To obtain detail in the RWBB, I had to allow much more light into the camera (on the order of two full stops).

I saw one Great Egret do a fly through without stopping at the marsh pond a couple of weeks ago. On my most recent visit, one had dropped in. They are quite a bit larger than a Snowy Egret, closer to the size of a Great Blue Heron. This one seemed small to me. There are only three white herons found in North America, the Cattle Egret being the third species. They don't inhabit marshy ecosystems, however.

This image allows a comparison of the two egrets. First of all, the Snowy Egret standing next to it made the appearance of the Great Egret look more normal in size. It no longer looked small. The bills are different in color and so are the lores, the area at the base of the bill near the eye. The Great Egret's lores are lime green and the Snowy Egret's are a deep orange to red this time of year. The feet of the large bird are black while those of the smaller are orange. I just happened to press the shutter when the Snowy yawned.  A heron yawning happens too fast to react, so it really was coincidental.

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