Is this a successful “birding” image? It might be, depending on your point of view and your definition of birding. For me, it is. It’s not a tight image with the 200mm or a “classic” birding image, but for me it does what it needs to do when telling a small piece of the avian world story. This was shot with the X100V, not known as a birding machine by any stretch but a camera that is always with me, always. So, as I find myself in more and more situations where I am paying attention to birds, well, I’m going to be making more and more “birding” images with this camera.
Maybe the simplest answer is “Who cares?” and for you non-birders that is probably flowing past your teeth as I write this. Birding is now all the rage, courtesy of the COVID pandemic, proof that good can come from even the most challenging of situations. I like asking these questions and I like compiling these images because they are perhaps a small portion of a potential solution when it comes to presenting birds in a new way. There is no shortage of incredible bird action photos, and no shortage of photographers who specialize in this field. There are far fewer images of the atmosphere of birding, and that is where images like this come in, especially when designing a book.
What about this image? Again, it works for me. Habitat, plain and simple. And a perfect example of what is being destroyed at an incredible rate both here in America and abroad. I can already remember legions of places I used to go that are no longer wild. Indiana, Texas, Wyoming, California, Arizona and New Mexico, all suffering from sprawl, development and habitat loss. But hey, the new iPhone is coming so at least we can watch footage of the destruction at 8k while buying shit.
What about this? A night mission to spot owls. Never did see one but did walk away with this image and a host of others that I really like. Also walked away with tons of mosquito bites. I’m not saying I love mosquitos but I do equate them with doing things I enjoy. Only a matter of time before I get West Nile, Zika, malaria or chikungunya, or if I live in Florida, something worse. (I thought Texas was currently the dumbest state but Florida has really put in a solid effort to recapture the top slot. Brazen crime has California inch up the rankings as well.)
I don’t love being a photographer, so no desire to ever make my living with imagery ever again, but I do love compiling and making sense of images. I also love building stories and building archives of images that may or may not make sense now but might in the future. I also love carrying a small camera. I know someone out there is going to write and ask “Oh, does this mean you are selling your other kit and your 200mm.” Um, no. Not even close. My goal is to use the other kit even more than I am now, and there is a perversely satisfying feeling when nailing something with the 200mm, especially if the image is tight and requires no cropping.
The last thing I’ll say is that you haven’t seen my best birding images and you won’t until they appear on the pages of a future book. Sharing now would only work to lessen the impact. They will be edited, sequence, sized, designed and printed to the best of my ability. They will reflect a wide range of image, location, species, and skill level of the person pushing the button. Just as it should be.