The lineup

I began this morning wanting to talk about the vulgar phrase “trash birds,” but unfortunately I have neither the strength nor energy to do so.  I promise to kick the tires of that lousy clunker at a later time—when I feel up to it.

In lieu of what no doubt will start yet another war between me and a portion of the naturalist community, let me instead share a few of the images I came across as I searched for illustrative photos to go with my rant.  Here are some rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia), one of the top three “trash bird” species in North America.

Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia) lined up on the pier (20081101_14291_n)

These were taken more than two years ago with a point-and-shoot camera, which I since bequeathed to my mother.  At the time, I was playing with a polarizing filter (along with the ever-present UV filter).  A UV filter is an always thing: put one on each of your lenses and leave them there at all times, putting all other filters on top of the UV filter.

But the polarizer?  Well, when shooting in direct sunlight especially, a polarizing filter works wonders to increase color saturation and contrast, not to mention minimizing reflections.  Yet it’s the former part of that—color saturation and contrast—that matters most.  Because direct sunlight not only causes harsh shadows, but also it’s so potent that it tends to overpower colors, leaving them washed out and lifeless.

You can actually get better colors on a cloudy day.  Still, a polarizing filter does a great deal to fight off sunshine’s overbearing disposition.

Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia) lined up on the pier (20081101_14290)

Thus, as I sat on the pier in Sunset Bay, my favorite haunt at White Rock Lake, this dule of doves, or flock of pigeons depending on your avian vernacular in this case, came to rest near me.  They all lined up on the edge of the pier, some even getting so close that I could no longer focus on them because they were within the minimum focusing distance of the camera.  I shot many photos of them as they relaxed with me on that warm and sunny November day.

Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia) lined up on the pier (20081101_14289)

It seems obvious that the entire lineup would have been perfect had there not been that one outlier: the dimwitted numskull in the background facing the wrong direction.  I remain unclear on whether that particular bird was just being contrary or if it was thicker in the head than this species is known for.  The empty “Who?  Me?” look I received each time I fussed about it makes me believe the latter more than the former.  But who am I to question the synaptic potency of any creature?  I’ve certainly had my share of “Duh!” moments.

10 thoughts on “The lineup”

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  2. Hi Jason – what beautiful birds, and you expertly captured their brilliant colors. I have been experimenting with filters a little, but had not considered using both a UV and a polarizer at the same time. In fact, I don’t think there is room to for both with my primary lens, which uses a drop-in port. Is it just me, or can the polarizing effect be measured by rotating the top “layer”of the polarizer?

    I think that you and I are of a same mind regarding bird species – they are all beautiful, all surviving ( or trying to) as their nature demands, all worthy of respect and admiration. I plan to get outside today, and know every creature I see will be a welcome sight.

    Take care of yourself, my friend.

    1. Thanks, Amber! They do have brilliant colors, something that often goes unnoticed, I’m sure.

      Something I mentioned many moons ago, I keep a UV filter on all my lenses at all times, then I put other filters on top of that. The UV filter can be used at any time, but it also serves to protect the end lens element from physical damage. It’s easier and cheaper to replace a filter than it is to replace lens glass–or the whole lens. Though I’m not sure how you can stack filters with the drop-in filter port, I would hope it could be done so you’re not limited to a single filter at all times.

      And yes, turning the polarizer filter element changes the angle of polarization, so the effect changes. That’s very helpful as it allows you to compensate for the direction of sunlight without having to manipulate the whole lens/camera combination.

      You hit the nail on the head: I like nature for being nature. I don’t pick and choose because nature is doing what nature does. I certainly can’t blame anything in nature for taking advantage of circumstances we’ve provided.

  3. These all must be one family of birds. Why do I say that? Because there is one in the bunch that just won’t line up with the others. But stick around and you’ll see odd man out changes with the subject matter so no one can claim a permanent contention crown. Beautiful photos, and such colors!

    1. LOL! So true, Mom. The rebel changes depending on the circumstances. Not that we know about that or anything…

      And thanks! I think these birds are beautiful with their slate canvas interrupted by the brilliant rainbow iridescence. That and they’re magnificent fliers.

  4. Your pigeon facing the wrong way is like the chorus girl who is a fraction out of step with the others, thus spoiling the whole mechanised, high kicking effect. Except of course, the pigeon doesn’t spoil it. I like that blurred profile with the garnet glitter of the eye, the individual who cheerily bucks the trend. It makes the image cranky and memorable. Heart-stoppingly iridescent plumage Jason. They may be commonplace birds, and there are certainly those that despise them (not me) but you have made them ravishingly beautiful. The artist’s eye, seeing the miraculous everywhere.

    1. What a brilliantly entertaining simile, Clive! Yes, just like the one showgirl who’s just slightly off but makes the whole dance troupe look messy. But like you, I was tickled by the one bird who wouldn’t follow the crowd. There had to be about two dozen birds lined up all the way down the pier, yet only this one faced the opposite direction. It made me laugh repeatedly.

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