Simplicity… A bit of a diversion from that which I normally post. I tend to gravitate toward images of simplicity. For me, competing objects are a distraction and my preference is to have the intended subject dominate the frame. I don’t always accomplish this. Photographing birds and wildlife sometimes requires they be recorded in their, sometimes, messy, less than clean and simple, environments. This lone stalk was a short distance from the American Beaver recently posted and on a relatively pristine expanse of wind and sun eroded snow. Pondering the essence and impact of this lonely seed bearing pillar, the thought emanated that this piece of the environment provided essential life supporting seeds to the birds that occupied this rather harsh place. As Winter Solstice transpires days will begin to get incrementally longer. Perhaps this lone seed offering seems insignificant. But, Nature, in all of her wonder seems to have a plan to sustain and provide for those remaining during the cold clutches of winter.
A few days ago, I began what ended up being many, many miles driven, in different locations in an attempt to find and photograph suitable subjects. I drove, I walked, I sat, I pondered. The harder I looked, the less presented itself, or so it seemed. On a whim, I decided to take an unlikely detour to a location where I felt it was unlikely to really find anything. I had nothing but time, so I took the road (I could throw in, “less traveled,” which it was, but that would be cliché) and not really paying much attention. Then, in my view was an animal. At first I thought I had seen an otter and as I slowed to get a better view, it disappeared. Continuing on, I found nothing, except a bull moose about three counties away, so that was out of the question. I returned to the location I had seen the yet to be identified critter, and there is was. So, I carefully stopped so I could observe what I had found. To my disbelief, I was looking at a beaver (Castor canadensis). I have never seen a beaver in winter before. This one was busy gathering branches from the surrounding brush, dragging them to a hole in the snow and then disappearing. As I waited, he/she appeared again and came completely out of the hole into which it had disappeared. It’s snout snow-covered from rearranging snow around one of the holes it was using. So, on balance, it ended up being a pretty good day.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) What does one do when there is high pressure sitting over the area, an inversion creating what some believe is crappy light and certainly nasty air quality, clouds, unseasonably warm temperatures, and a lack of birds? Practice! Five-hundred miles (Peter, Paul, & Mary should be playing through your head right now) traveled in the last couple of days, with nothing to show except some marginal photos of a Rough-legged Hawk and a Prairie Falcon. One can argue about wonderful light early in the morning and in the evening being more desirable. Some proclaim the current light is really crappy. And it might not be optimal, but the light when not the best creates challenges to overcome and provides opportunities — no harsh shadows, and in some cases more vibrants colors. After a time in the morning, the sun can become so bright that it can actually wash out the unique coloring of birds, and institute specular highlights where they usually are not wanted. Photographers who photograph flowers like cloudy days and muted light because of this very condition — more vibrant colors. So, what to do when things are not the best, make the best of the situation — shoot and practice at home in the yard. I was surprised at the willingness of birds to come so close and let me practice. In some instances, too close to focus on them within the minimum focusing limits of the lens I was using. Within 15 feet of my garage door, I was able to practice on a number of birds, including this sub-adult Robin who found delight in eating fruit from a non-fruit bearing (🤔), Flowering Pear tree. In addition to the Robin, I was joined by Chickadees, Goldfinches, Juncos, House Finches, Red-winged blackbirds, a Northern Flicker and a Downy Woodpecker, who was so close that I could only get its head in the viewfinder and was, consequently, too close to focus. More birds than I saw during recent travels and I only needed to walk a few steps.