I saw a post on Facebook yesterday by a photography website called Lightstalking. It was a nice little piece about photographing wildlife in an urban setting and one of the comments that struck me was the following: "Be trustworthy. Although any wildlife photography is about being as unobtrusive as possible, wildlife at 50 mm is about intimacy. It’s impossible to do that without getting close. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time together before you start shooting. Accept that sometimes an animal doesn’t want you to come close(r). After all, being trusted by a vulnerable animal is somewhat of a miracle".
So when I went out for a walk today to photograph birds at Clearwater Beach, FL, I was mindful of this advise, especially since I was planning to use a 14-42mm lens.... and needed to get up very close and personal. I took a lot of photos of seagulls and other local birds but wasn't able to get up close enough to anything for a good shot. Everything just flew away as soon as I took the camera out. I felt like I had failed the "intimacy test" with the birds of Clearwater so I put the camera back in the bag and headed home.
But like many things.... when you stop trying too hard your luck changes. As I was walking back home I saw a white Egret near the shore. I slowly walked toward it. And as I got closer and closer.. and closer.. I couldn't believe that I was being "trusted" enough to get within 6 feet of this beautiful bird! It felt really intimate. How did I get so lucky? This Egret just stood there steadfast...almost begging me to come closer. Well, as the Lightstalking piece said, it really helps to be patient and "unobtrusive". But I should note that it also really helps when there is a tasty little bite sized fish dangling off a fishing line just a few feet over your shoulder! Turns out that some kids were fishing off a nearby ledge and had caught a fish just as I was walking up and moving in on the Egret. Maybe the Egret "trusted" me but I think he was really looking for a quick and easy dinner. Yep, miracles happen.... especially if you are in the right place at the right time!
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