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Point Of Focus Taking Wing

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9/23/2014 11:23:59 AM
When inspiration arrives in your own backyard by tracey clark of shutter sisters

Inspiration can come to visit at any- time. There’s no telling when some- thing wonderful might fl y in and land right in front of our lenses, setting our photographic souls soaring. As for this past spring, inspiration was, in- deed, something that flapped, flew and quite literally landed, or perhaps a better word might be nested, in the bird- house that hung from a low peach tree branch in our yard. The “decorative” birdhouse, a wed- ding gift, has been unoccupied since my husband and I were married nearly 20 years ago, until suddenly and un- expectedly, a Western bluebird couple decided to move in. Not ever noticing bluebirds in our yard before, I was delighted with the possibility of getting to watch and wit- ness the raising of a bluebird family right from my kitchen window. Having a similar bird encounter before, I was giddy with another opportunity like it.

 The “decorative” birdhouse, a wed- ding gift, has been unoccupied since my husband and I were married nearly 20 years ago

The “decorative” birdhouse, a wed- ding gift, has been unoccupied since my husband and I were married nearly 20 years ago

A year prior, I discovered a hummingbird nest quite by accident, when one day, while gardening, I found my- self face to face with a very insistent mama hummingbird. After a slow scan of the area, I realized I was standing about two feet from her nest. The weeks that followed were inspiring both on a photographic level and on a parental level as I documented the process of life from egg to fledgling. And, now, a year later, I was getting another chance, only with an entirely new species of birds. The day I heard the new baby birds chirping from the birdhouse, I knew what I had to do. I had to get my hands on the right lens. I’m not much of a gear girl. I’ve had the same modest arsenal of camera equipment for over 10 years, never adding or subtracting from it, never com- plaining or wanting for much more. My gear has, for the most part, been the only gear I’ve needed—until I wanted to shoot out of my norm. And, birds, up until the hummingbird experience, were never the norm.

A year prior, I discovered a hum- mingbird nest quite by accident, when one day, while gardening, I found my- self face to face with a very insistent mama hummingbird

A year prior, I discovered a hummingbird nest quite by accident, when one day, while gardening, I found my- self face to face with a very insistent mama hummingbird

Here I was again. A new subject, a new setting, a new focal distance, a new creative objective, all inspired by a family of bluebirds. I rented a lens for the hummingbirds, and that went so well, I called my local camera shop and reserved the amazing Canon EF 100- 400mm lens for a week. With my new- found love of bird-watching and nature photography—the kind you can only really capture with a great telephoto lens—I wish I could just buy one, but because really amazing nature photography lenses can be quite an investment, the weeklong rental suited me fi ne. Plus, renting gives me the chance to test and try any lens I’m interested in eventually buying as research development, all the while capturing awesome shots of my muse of the day. Win-win. What happened for the next week or so was thrilling, tender, heart-wrenching, worrisome, sometimes even annoying and inconvenient—such is life, raising a family. Day in and day out, I awoke in the morning in anticipation to see the family’s progression as things seemed to transpire at warp speed. The handsome, tireless and fierce Papa and the sweet, steadfast and patient Mama constantly in and out of that house doing what needed to be done, giving everything they had until all five of their baby birds got big enough and brave enough to leap from the safety of their little home to then begin the next chapter of their journey, navigating the world outside the nest.

I rented a lens for the hummingbirds, and that went so well, I called my local camera shop and reserved the amazing Canon EF 100- 400mm lens for a week

I rented a lens for the hummingbirds, and that went so well, I called my local camera shop and reserved the amazing Canon EF 100- 400mm lens for a week

While bouncing around in our yard one after the other, still unable to fl y on their own, my husband and I worked vigilantly with the Papa and the Mama to keep those little fledglings safe. And as I clicked and captured the miracles unfold from first chirp to first flight, I couldn’t help but be grateful that inspiration, once again, chose my shoulder to perch on.     

 

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