Creative: Update and Daily Diary Idea

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I’m a total sucker for anything in red.

Monday. Not so fun day, but the first chance we have at establishing a baseline for a productive week. I’ve been thinking, and when that happens things tend to happen. I’ve decided to do a video diary. How else could I come up with a way to film myself more? I realize that good filmmaking might be beyond me at this point, especially when considering what I have coming over the next several months. It’s not to say my skills won’t improve, but to think I will have the time to produce something noteworthy is a bit of a stretch. However, what I’m doing over the next few months might be interesting to some of you and might lead to you making your own decisions about something creative.

The shades of blue never fail to amaze me. And this bird has a ton of attitude.

I’ve also been working on my new project, making a picture here and there, but mostly failing and failing hard. Bird photography has already become the most difficult photography I’ve ever attempted. Even with bird-tracking autofocus, which isn’t perfect by any stretch, getting birds in flight is a damn hard ask. Birds on the branch, different story. But getting in position, nailing the focus and making something interesting is a very low percentage endeavor. But if you are like me, the failings are what make me both angry and driven. Driven to try again.

Not a great image but a very impressive hunter.

I also find myself interested in more atypical images when it comes to birds. Nailing a classic image of a bird in flight, sure, I want that, but there is so much more. Birds in their environment, regardless of how non-sexy that might be, or birds from a strange angle, all seem fine and fresh. (Like the first image in this post.) There is a moment of surrender, early on, when I realize how far I have to go. How I can never fully reach my intended destination. Again, this is motivation. Go and go now.

The Toyota Camry of birds. (Of which there are many.)

But let me return to the video diary. I’m not sure where I’m headed but I’m going to try it. Sharing what I’m up to, at least parts of it, might be relevant, interesting or illuminating to some of you. While others might vomit. That’s okay. Nothing quite like a good puke to get the creative juices flowing. I can’t speak to bird puking, but I can speak to bird crapping. They crap nonstop. When you are staring at these creatures through the White Elephant you see every nuance, and when I say “nuance” I mean “crap.” It’s endless and nonstop. Like a tourist after too much green chili. Or like throwing a bag of chocolate pudding into a ceiling fan. Okay, I’ll stop.

What I mean by bird in environment regardless of how sexy. (EA Poe would love this image.)

This looks to be an interesting week here in the good old US of A. A former president might get fitted for an orange jumpsuit. We might have riots to keep us warm and our banking system, once again, feels the strain of unregulated greed. Snow falls here in the mountains. I practice my hook kicks. Pen is put to paper and ideas are sorted through. Curiosity burns through me. Wonder clouds my attempt at routine. Water boils for tea and I put on another layer.

Comments 10

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  1. You’ve picked a pretty hard subject to photograph. I very much like the last shot in this sequence; the juxtaposition of the pole and electrical apparatus with the bird is totally engaging, I’ve no idea why but it really is striking. Forgive me if you have already shown this book I link here- was even possibly you who flagged it in the first place. I’ve no knowledge of birds except the variety one can eat, pheasant, partridge and duck and that’s through living on a farm as a teenager and working the shoot every season. When we were locked down back in 2020 I became so much more aware of the birds around me in the city. The quiet that lockdown enabled gave the birds a free reign as it were. They very much took on an air of superiority and I gave them a reverence that had been so mindlessly overlooked before.
    All the best for your project, I wished I had the same enthusiasm for something I could point my camera at.

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      I find myself in a strange position. I’ve hunted dove, quail, geese, ducks, pheasant, chukker, and more. But now I mostly photograph. But now, because I’m an idiot, I’ve been wondering how difficult it would be to hunt dove with a bow and arrow. There is no hope for me.

    2. “ . But now, because I’m an idiot, I’ve been wondering how difficult it would be to hunt dove with a bow and arrow. There is no hope for me.”
      …..probably significantly harder than shooting birds in flight with a 300mm f2.8 manual focus 😁

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  2. I’ve been dabbling in bird photography mostly because of this website and I really enjoy the process but couldn’t care less about the results. In over six months of admittedly half-hearted effort I have nothing. Zero. Zilch. So much so that I could delete everything there and then when I put my camera back in my bag after a walk along the river.

    I like your images, especially the last one. I’ve found over the years that I need a human element to interest me.

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      Sean, I get skunked all the time. Even with bird tracking, there are days when it’s just slightly off. Nothing I can do. No way I can manual focus that fast. My goal is to create a set of images around the atmosphere and culture of birding.

  3. Ah, the pain! My despair is as Sean’s, and I’m afraid that general, non-genre-focussed photography as therapy went only a little way before it turned into what it always was: substitute. In my case, anaesthetic to cover the death of a wonderful wife at the climax of the 2008 financial crisis. Reading of new banking upheavals brings it all back, not that it could really ever go away, I guess.

    The other loss that photography, as in amateur, attempted to cover was the end of a career in fashion and commissioned calendars. I had imagined stock was going to be my second pension, but digital had murdered that by flooding the world with so many images that, today, they can hardly be given away. No, quality doesn’t matter anymore: cheapness rules. At a stroke, making worthwhile images for money was no longer an option.

    So there you have it: photography fills the mind when you are working in it, and for a while, you can deceive said mind that you are still working in it just by going through the motions – for about as long as muscle memory can be fooled, perhaps. However, comes the day that you have to admit to yourself that all genres are not, to you, equal, and just going through the motions like the battery bunny is pointless, a self-inflicted burden one might as well shake off as soon as the realisation is made. Which is where I’m at today. I went into pro photography because I was obsessed with beauty and photographing women; when that eventually vanished as a viable life, I pretty much stopped shooting. Only the unexpected need to escape an empty home for a few hours every day brought Nikon back into my life for a few years. Now and again I think I might start shooting once more, but, funny thing, there’s always something more pressing that gets in the way. Things like going shopping for food; the need to do the housework; my sympathies go to Lucy Jordan: I know just how she got to think and feel.

    Regarding your birds: were I you, I’d perhaps do my best not to become too goddam expert in the photography of birds. It’s my guess that technical perfection comes at the cost of interesting pictures. Your opening one and the two closing pix are appealing to me because they are the equivalent of bird “street”: they tell a little story or, at the very least, make you think about the life of a bird and the speed of its world. Let’s face it: that first one is bird pin-up! Never seen that before. 😉

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      Roberto, I am in no danger of becoming an expert at anything related to birds. I’ve not met a more accomplished group of people in my life. The level of knowledge, skill, and commitment is beyond any other group I’ve met. What I do hope to do is to put my stamp on my work relating to birds. That’s all. Stock. I just love the generations of idiots running around posting their lives to IG. 99.9% of them don’t even know what stock was or how it work or how it presented a truly wonderful life to so many creatives. I’m old enough to know people who make seven figures a year on stock while leading incredible lives. And now it’s shoot crap, post crap, beg for attention. We gave it all away.

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