The Story Behind the Calendar Photo
Over the next few months we will be sharing stories by the photographers themselves on how the outstanding images that grace this year’s 2017 calendar were captured. Purchase a calendar and follow along with each behind-the-scenes look at how hard working photographers get those breath taking images! If you want to learn more about each photographer there will be contact information at the end of each posting. Enjoy!
Bob Schamerhorn – American Wigeon
Awaiting that unique moment with the shutter half triggered, focused, but not yet captured. Then, when the subject became active, I release the shutter in a burst of shots.
Behavioral photographs express so much about the animal’s life without a single word. Birds spend a lot of time maintaining their feathers. Though often challenging, preening can occasionally provide unique positions and compositions as in this image. When an animal engages in natural behavior, it is an expression that it feels safe and undisturbed. To me, this is a key ingredient to a natural looking photograph. It seems as if the peacefulness and character carries forward.
A generous friend had invited me to tag along with a small group on a late fall photo trip. On the last day we visited a small pond where a mixed flock of waterfowl frequently visit to feed for the day. Approaching a group of birds often proves to be difficult, because there are so many watchful eyes to sound-off a danger alarm.
The skies were overcast that morning, but the dimmed sunlight turned out to be a blessing, because the white on this bird’s head is easily over exposed. Having found a position where the background reflected pleasing colors into the scene, I laid low, hoping to capture an eye-level view. After a while, this drake swam directly towards me and stood on a slightly submerged rock less than twenty feet away. His awareness of my presence was evident. With a surprised look, he raised his head up and watched me intently for a bit. I laid still and silent. Finally he settled down and began to appear relaxed. Several females and a couple of youngsters swan past, which eased his demeanor even more. Then came the calm behaviors. He began to watch over the other ducks and after a little while began to preen. So immersed in his grooming, the camera’s shutter release did not spook him as I grabbed a few shots of the action. The inclusion of the late fall colors in the background worked both to compliment his coppery breast plumage and to contrasted his iridescent green face stripe. Natural behavior makes interesting pictures.
Camera, lens and settings: Canon 5D Mark III • Canon 400mm f-5.6 L Series Lens • Gitzo Series 3 Tripod • ISO 640 • Shutter Speed 1/250 Sec.
Special thanks to my awesome wife Lori, that trip was an early Christmas gift. A suggestion from my experience is simply this, “Know your subject and be true to your passion.”
This article originally appeared in Virginia Wildlife Magazine.
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