Ever had the wrong camera for the job? Ever taken aim and snapped a photo of something so far away that you’re convinced it’s just a leaf blowing in the wind? Ever taken pictures out of the moonroof of your car while speeding along a busy boulevard?
Truth be told, many times I’ve attempted to capture an image that I knew ahead of time was well outside the scope of my abilities, the power of the camera, and the convenience of the circumstances.
But I never let any of that stop me from trying.
A juvenile yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea). While visiting Lake Tawakoni more than a year ago to see the giant spider web that spanned acre after acre of the shoreline, I chanced upon a small bay thriving with wildlife. I regrettably had only my previous camera with me, a Canon PowerShot S50, and it simply had none of the range or power I needed for such a vast and beautiful place. Yet I felt a tinge of excitement when I reviewed the images later and found it had memorialized this child as it stood preening in the morning sun. The bird had been so far away from me that I couldn’t tell what it was—other than being a large bird, I mean; I was therefore pleased to no end to find that small camera had been able to see what I myself scarcely recognized from across the water.
A male eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis). Mom provides several nesting spots for birds around the family farm, and one species that makes it their home every year is the eastern bluebird. Although we had seen the mated pair busily flitting about the main yard as they tended to their family duties, I had not been able to take a photo as we ourselves were busy with hour own duties. Standing at the far end of one of the pastures downhill from the house, I happened to see a shadow dancing at the very top of a tree on the far side of the farm. I decided to attempt a photograph even thought I was at a tremendous disadvantage.
A female lesser scaup (Aythya affinis). The males of this species are gregarious, yet the females always seem to be aloof…even a tad disinterested. I admit once they’re mated they stay with their male counterparts, but as a group waiting to find a man, the females keep to themselves and stay well out of sight. Imagine, then, my pleasant surprise to find this lone female trailing a group of males well out in the center of White Rock Lake. I ran around Sunset Bay to find a higher vantage closer to their location, then I took a few pictures despite knowing she was too far away to see clearly.
A female spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularia). After arriving at the Bathhouse Cultural Center where I would begin my walk, I sat atop a picnic table far from the water’s edge as I collected my things, put filters on the camera, and packed spare batteries and the like in the tripod bag. American coots flying by drew my attention to the lake where I saw this gal bobbing along the concrete steps in the old swimming area. She wasted no time as she hurried along, so I wasted no time in taking aim and snapping a photo. As unprepared as I was, and despite my disadvantaged location well away from her position, I was happy I didn’t wait longer than I did: she vanished right after I pressed the button, flitting across the water and arcing quickly through the air out of sight.
A western kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis). Driving along sans a care in the world save surviving Dallas’s horrific traffic, I do my best to remain aware of the nature that thrives even in this concrete jungle. I’ve seen American kestrels perched atop light poles, massive hawks circling right above the road, armadillos sauntering along as though they own the place, and all manner of flora and fauna just hoping someone will notice them, appreciate them. And so it was with this bird. Resting on a wire hanging above the road, my quick approach meant I didn’t recognize it and wouldn’t be around long enough to do so. I therefore opened the moonroof and held the camera out above the car as I sped along beneath it. I didn’t zoom in since that would have made it impossible to take a picture or drive, or both. What resulted was a wide-angle shot that hid this beautiful little spot of feathers off in one corner of a very large, very blank image.
An eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus). Because one good kingbird deserves another. No matter how often I visit White Rock Lake and walk the miles of shoreline, I never fail to see a new flower, snake, bird, or other bit of nature. It’s not that I never noticed before; it’s just that this large expanse offers refuge to so many species that one can never see them all (and that doesn’t include migrants, some of whom are extremely rare in this area). Well downhill of a massive field of wildflowers and grasses, I saw a red-winged blackbird perched on a wire and decided to try for a shot. I had to face into the sun to do it, so I knelt down behind some brush to take advantage of the paltry shade it offered. Only then did my vision clear enough for me to see this kingbird resting far uphill from me in a spot where the plants behind it gave some shade.