Most here would know that I am a Flickr addict. I love to log on, post a picture of two from my latest time out in the field and have developed a good range of Flickr friends who also share their work. But one of the limitations that Flickr has for me as a story teller is the inability to keep a story line intact. No point in posting 15 images there, as after the first couple, most will move on to the next posting. (I speak as much as from personal experience as anything else). There is only so many times you can post, “Oh, great photo of a Little Button Quail”.
Birds as Poetry blog I’ve always wanted to be a visual diary of the birds that we come across. We, being in the first instance, my muse, best friend, partner for life and finest critic, Dorothy she of the EE moniker. We, sometimes includes those who might take the risk and travel about with me. Mr An Onymous, Neil A, Ray, and Richard A (he of the Woodlands List fame) being all well known to the long term reader (whoever you are!)
One of the challenges I guess a bird photographer faces, is that sometimes the light, the bird and the area just don’t come together in a cohesive way, and over on Flickr I created the “Not Terribly Good Club” (apologies to Stephen Pile who created the “Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain” which eventually had over 30,000 members, and thus failed its own test!) that listing at least gave me a chance to put up work that I’d always hoped would encourage people that sometimes in spite of our efforts the photography process, like any good art reaches into the soul of the artist, but not always does the result achieve the intended result.
Today, I received an email from Earthbound Light by Bob Johnson. Now I’ve never met Bob, but often his writing vibrates with my own thoughts and I think, “I wish I’d said that”.
Been pondering the past few days about how many more, as EE succinctly states, “How many more pictures of a bird on a stick does the world need?” Which has always got me to pondering why take another photo? (not Why take another photo, but rather why Take another photo. ) And I think Bob sums it up beautifully in his blog today. I don’t have permission to quote him directly. (Very conscious of Intellectual Property Rights, and copyright issues), so please feel free to pop over to the page and take a gander.
Here tis.. Stopping Time: Why We Take Pictures.
He talks to the photo moment as: absorbed in my own process and perception. With the resulting image being a sum of what went into the making, the subject, the lighting, the angle of view and the photographer. And I might add the enthrallement of those who view the images as it reaches out to their perception.
What struck me was the concept of the utter simplicity of the present moment, as the shutter is pressed. Only you, and I, will see the bird, the mountain, the party, the moment, in that one single unique way. So does the world need more birds on a stick. Probably not, but the process is to me such an extension of the moment that I observed and absorbed, that at another level, there just cannot be too many birds on sticks or bird in the air images.
Now, if, by some quirk of fate, you’ve read all the way down here, you probably think, “hmm, forgot to take his tablets today,” or more charitably, “I wonder where this is going. ”
I’m hoping it will mean more posting of the story of the birding day in this blog.
Not much rambling of words, but a look into the insight of what ‘we’ saw during the time out. Flickr still gets my attention, but I won’t have the pressure of tying to create a coherent poem out of unrelated photos. Will the quality be better here or there. In other words, do I really hang out to put the best images I can make on Flickr, or include them here to a much smaller audience. (Hmm, yet to tell how I’ll deal with that). But it will mean more shots of what ever Button Quail or its equivalent ‘we’ run across and draws us into their lives for even a brief instant in the universe.
So, here is a few from an hour or so among the birds on the Werribee River Park.
In the words of Bob Johnson, “Next time your out photographing, (Or birding), stop, and pay attention. Thanks Bob.
8 thoughts on “New Directions or how many images of a Bird on a Stick do we need?”
So true. Thanks David and thanks Bob.
Thanks for the support, nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with a the moment of pressing the shutter. Will probably try and concentrate more energy into the blog over the coming weeks.
Thankyou David, for drawing our attention to our thoughts on why we take photographs and to Bob’s words and reminders to “stop, and pay attention”. I need to do just that, especially evident as I wade through all my travel shots (still!) from last year. Often when travelling, not enough attention is being paid to the moment.
I do enjoy the sharing of not only the photographs but the thoughts surrounding the photography.
Thanks for sharing, Sometimes I come home, having just enjoyed the day, the light, the birds and the moments. Great images are not so important. Other days, I get so excited like a kid in a lollyshop, with the opportunities the day has presented. Other times I just have to accept that the day was a learning experience.
Nothing wrong with having lots of images to sort through. Often nice to do that to see how we perceived things in different ways on different days.
Bob’s thoughts just sparked me off on a tangent, as I’m a often concerned that the blog here sometimes lacks cohesion, and the sharing of images on Flickr, is more a showcase- for want of a better word.
Still its all part of the amazing photo process we have launched ourselves into. Sometimes the water is millpond, and other times turbulent. The birds I’ve found have been able to take it all in their stride.
Good luck with the editing.
You’ve certainly given us all food for thought David. I guess there’s as many reasons to take a photo as there are cameras. When I got my first digital I was lucky enough to live on a property with lots of reasonably tame wildlife. Then I discovered Flickr and it was a joy to share my encounters with others.
Now with so many good photographs available to view, it can be a little ho-hum. What I like about your contributions David, are the observations that go with them. Why is that bird doing what it is? What weather did you have to endure or how long did you have to wait to get that (yet again) perfect shot?
How many images of a Bird on a Stick do we need? Plenty more 🙂
Hi Christine, thanks for those nice thoughts. I guess, at one level, what I am addressing is that my blog was setup to have the chance to explore, if you will, the things that you are saying. How the bird was, what were we doing there, how did the shot come together. I find it very hard to be succinct and clever on Flickr. Also inspite of the best of efforts by writer and reader, sometimes the intent just doesn’t make it. And here I can ‘control’ the comments, not that I really need to.
So, I probably will over the next week or so set up a couple of changes, still work on Flickr, certainly keep up commenting on the work of others, I think we have quite a nice online community of really interested, and interesting photographers covering a broad range of subjects and that keeps me on my toes. At the same time work harder here with each day shoot, to give better idea of the birds and their activities. So expect to see more Birds on Sticks!
As Neville rightly points out, its about birds being themselves, and we are graced by their presence.
Thanks for the thoughts “Birds on a stick”, “Caught in the headlights” are all tune up shots for the one off “Caught being themselves”,images that you feature, While trying to capture friendly swallows in flight I witnessed and photographed a Northern Mullard mating/dunking a female while his two mates offered encouragement.
Hi Neville, I think you’ve nailed it as a thought. “Caught being themselves” is what I wanted to use the blog for. Its all well and good to produce that amazing shot, but what have I learned about the bird, and its hard to give that feeling of what we were doing, how the weather behaved, the way the sunlight worked, and the host of other onsite activities that consume the driven photographer. Its why I think Bob Johnson expressed it so well, its about touching the universe when I press the shutter.
Cartier-Bresson made a telling comment on the work of the likes of Adams, Porter, and Weston, when he said, (roughly translated from the French), “The world is going to pieces, and all Adams.. and Weston can do is photograph trees and sticks and bits of rock.”
There is a place in our art form for all schools. Its what makes us go back out again tomorrow, and sometimes lie awake at night so excited by the possibilities.
Talk more, but photograph much more.