Drum roll please… it’s dog show weekend! That is good news for my readers as that typically means – post-a-paloosa. There is a lot of down time with these events and I cannot think of a better way to fill them… except of course, some ultra trail training. Unfortunately, running for a lot of miles in unfamiliar places can get you lost or worse, find yourself reliant on your survival skills. I’ll leave the trails for closer to home. So posts it is! This show might be a be interesting for Linda. She managed to dislocate a toe a few days ago. I came running in to help at first call. On second thought that might be a stretch. I waited out the standard oouch ooochie ooochiiiii calls assuming it was a stub which just has to be ridden out. Problem was.. I thought that was just about to run its course when it took a dark turn to a much higher pitched series of “OH MY GOD”s. Okay, time to ride in on the white pony. I was not expecting to come into the room and see 9 of her toes staring at me and one outlier pointed 90 degrees to the right. I think I might have laughed – not my best moment from a husband perspective… sorry, it was funny and Linda’s eyeballs out of their sockets by about 2 inches was just amping the humor. Say what you will about my sympathy gene, my personal experience with resetting wayward appendages during sporting events was just the ticket. Deftly moved the crooked toe in line with the others and then went to work on the emotional part. Not to be deterred, our trooper will be taking on the courses with a mighty purple toe. Oh, and big thanks to our call a friend Dr. G. for setting her mind at ease that she will indeed live to run another day – apparently Linda believes the word of a real doctor over my personal experiences (I’m hurt). Sorry for the long lead in.. how ’bout a bird with big toes!?!
A bit of a departure for me in the digital dark room. There are some standard treatments I do to all my images to get them into my preferred style. Every photographer has their own signatures, some more subtle than others. One of the areas I do not tend to rely on is hard contrast. My eyes view life more on the soft side versus cold sharp edges. As a result, that area is used primarily to slightly dampen unintended jitters. However, there is one time when I do like a bolder pop.
You happen to be looking at one of those times. Beautiful white birds in dark, dingy settings has a natural contrast that truly intrigues me. How do these birds manage to keep themselves so clean while strutting around in the muck. Suspect there is a local distributor of Oxy Clean making a fortune. Hit the jump to experience some more shots from the dark waters.
Our lord of the pond was found at a place called Widewaters near Joliet, IL. Ron and had the chance to do some birding up there back in April 2018. If you recall, this is where I managed to tin my first Hooded Merganser (link here). For what feels like a wide spot in the road, this Widewater area is has quite the feather draw. This particular Great Egret was busing hunting alone at one end of the pond. The other end was packed with intermingled duck species. Unfortunately, there was really only one area to park the truck making it difficult to cover the heavily populated area.
No worries, Ron and I were content in focusing in this very accommodating Egret. Struggled a bit at the start trying to get the focus right. Took a few chimps at the viewer to find out the shots were bizarrely distorted. Apparently made a mistake not bringing the tripod along. Tried to lock The Beast down between the door and frame of the truck in a makeshift harness. Took a few more shots, checked the results – same damn problem.
Think Ron was having some unexplained struggles as well. Tried a few different spots on the truck to reduce the likely jitters. Eventually it hit me – the hot engine on the cool day was working against me. The heat foils off the hood were causing the distortion. Filtered out by our vision receptors, but not The Beast. Moved away from the truck and the problem solved – well, at least those. Still took a bit of time to dial in the shots I wanted – thankfully these Great Egrets can win a stare contest with a statue.
Joel Sartore (link here) is one of my favorite photographers. If you are a wildlife photographer and haven’t had a chance to read about his Photo Ark project, get your butt over there and check it out. Actually, even if you are not a photographer … go check it out. He is on a mission that will tug at your heartstrings – to photograph every endangered animal species before we lose them forever.
I was thinking of the Ark project when I was working these images up. His style is to isolate the species against a solid black or white background. Thankfully Mr. White here is doing fine on the conservation front so happy there are no sad stories to relay on that front. I did try a few tests of fading out the background completely before bringing it back. Decided the reeds and the murk better reflected the mood I had envisioned during the shoot.
Eventually our subject decided to go check out what the other ducks were doing at the other end of the pond … or the Oxy Clean merchant showed up and it needed to replenish supplies. Hope you enjoyed a slight deviation from the usual image style. Let me know what you think – no worries if not to your liking, I can take criticism with the best of them. Meanwhile, best of luck to Linda – keeping up with Raven on a bad toe isn’t going to be easy.