Thursday, June 8, 2023

Siddhartha Gautama Would Have Made A Lousy Bird Photographer

There is no greater confusion among people that what they mean when they say ….. Birder, Birdwatcher, Bird Guide, Bird Photographer, Ornithologist etc. etc. … I have been trying to help people distinguish one from the other - but with little success. So I gave up - instead I now focus on photographing birds as best as I could - as often as I could - because I am a bird photographer first and foremost, and not an educator!

But everyone knows that photographing birds is not easy - but “not easy” is not the same as “not difficult”. And, it takes fanatical doggedness to succeed at it. You have to be so dogged at it that over time you should begin to develop an uncanny ability to sense the bird - even before you see it or hear it. That is when you know you have arrived - as a bird photographer.

But being able to acquire a bird image is … well, a child’s play. You need the image to be beyond good - it has to be uncluttered, separated from the background and the foreground, the sharpness has to be even throughout, the bird should be positioned in such a way that most of its body should be clearly visible - the head, the beak, eye, belly, wings, and a good bit of the birds back. The lighting should be subdued so that you are able to capture and record its colors - faithfully. Not to forget the twinkle in the eye!

Getting all the above right is still not good enough - the final qualification is the SHARPNESS - the image has to be so sharp that you have to be able to see every single strand of the bird’s whiskers, the subtle color variations, and capture the complex, intricate patterns on the bird’s feathers.

As they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Similarly, the only way to test if you have got your images right is by zooming in for a close-up.

It is for this reason that people like me put in close to two months - every day - day in day out - to attempt to get an image of the quality of the following dainty, pint sized, Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis), measuring all of 9.5 cms/3.74 inches:

I can guarantee you - you do not get a good bird image by brooding under a Mahabodhi Tree like uncle Siddhartha Gautama - trust me, he would have made a lousy bird photographer 😂

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