Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only wind; when it rains, there is only rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through. Lao Tzu
When I was a mere broth of a photographer, and knee deep in learning the craft, one of the big studio swings was away from formal portraits in a studio and more to ‘environmental portraits’, as they became known.
I’ve blogged on this process here before and over on Studio Werkz, and the studio I was working with, at the time, was quite slow in making the ‘customer’ perceived change and ‘that mob’ down the road with their shiny new Hasselblads made the running. Yet the young-gun in me was always eager to explore new opportunities. And like hand-coloured black and white photos, the old studio portrait gave way to the more ‘exciting and involving’ outdoor portrait.
As much of my own direction turned to product photography the need to embrace the new age really didn’t catch me. After all who wants to see their precious white-porcelain bathroom bowl posed against some tree/plant/water feature or industrial backdrop.
Yet, I have to be among the first to acknowledge, the chance to use the power of the ‘around’ and the available light has always given me a real pleasure when I get to do the occasional, informal portrait.
I’ve been contemplating my own bird photography of late, and while I enjoy the camaraderie of the Flickr page tis a tough medium to encapsulate the images that go into making a story of the birds. Long time readers will recall the earliest blogs here were much more the sharing of time with a bird or pair or family as it seemed to me to bring the story of their important lives.
So, I have considered combining Studio Werks into BirdasPoetry, and share the challenges of the craft of portrait stories.
Which of course takes us directly into the field and in this case a sunny morn at the You Yangs.
And almost before we had the cameras out of the car, the shrill, Zhhhhht, Zhhhhht, Zhhhht. Pling pling pling, of a Restless Flycatcher rang in our ears.
And it didn’t take long to track down the pintsized performer.
It had worked its way up through the bush to an area open to the north and east, or more importantly to direct sunshine.
But, true to its “restless’ name, it hardly sat in one place long enough to grab focus. And off course the challenge of exposure of a black and white bird against a variety of backdrops from midtone, to dark shadows and the brilliant grey of sunlit tree trunks.
But its enthusiasm for its work, and its cheery song made any challenges something to enjoy. A few things we noted.
It is quite capable of hover flight. Hanging in mid-air as it catches the flying insects or fanning off the trunk of a tree for the right moment to catch its prey.
And the most beautiful rich blue tones of the head feathers. These sparkle in the sunshine in their brilliant sheen.
I was working with the 300mm PF, no Teleconverter so really 300mm, mostly wide open, at f/4, but later I began to stop down a bit, in the good old ‘environmental portrait’ style. Just helps to set the scene for this active and expressive little bird.
And as a parting shot, it turned to sing a song before departing deeper into the bush.