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Early in the 20th century there was a US president (Theodore Roosevelt) whose approach to international relations was supposedly summed up with the phrase ‘walk softly and carry a big stick’. Well I’ll paraphrase that as ‘walk softly and carry a camera!’ Today’s image was captured in the St Lucia wetlands area of South Africa during a slow walk along a nature trail. The trail was on the edge of town and meandered through scrub and brush which proved to be a haven for numerous species of small birds which flitted from branch to branch and twig to twig. I kept the kit light, just the 20D with the 70-300mm DO zoom and a spare battery and memory card in my pocket.
In that environment I found that the best way to sight these birds was to walk very slowly and quietly, no sudden movements, even completely stopping and standing still for extended periods and just listening. More often than not I would hear the birds long before I would see them. Once sighted there was the chance to smoothly raise the camera to the eye and get the shot before the bird flew off. The slower I moved, and the quieter I was, the more I was able to hear, see and ultimately photograph. Sometimes the birds would land on a twig and look at me as though they were curious about this slow moving, non threatening, presence. In the end I managed to get nice shots of at least half a dozen species, but it would have been a worthwhile exercise even without the camera, just to completely relax and “tune in” to nature.
I remember another experience I had many years ago whilst hiking along a bush trail closer to my home. I didn’t have suitable camera gear with me at the time but, as in this case, I slowed right down and listened and looked intently as I walked. As I did so I became aware of some movement in the undergrowth and stopped. I was then able to observe a male superb lyrebird carrying out his courtship dance complete with elaborate use of his wonderful tail feathers and listen to the extraordinary vocal performance for which these birds are famous. It was a memorable encounter which lasted 10 to 15 minutes, I wish I had a worthwhile photo of the incident to post. Once the performance ended and the bird moved out of sight I walked on and encountered a group of 4 or 5 foreign tourists walking in the opposite direction. They were stomping along, talking and laughing loudly amongst themselves and were obviously enjoying their day out. I imagine that if at the end of the day they were asked about their visit, they might well have concluded, that it was an enjoyable walk but there wasn’t much to see! If only they’d known.
Canon 20D with 70-300mm DO zoom lens at 300mm and F5.6, shutter speed 1/3200 second at ISO 1600.
Unfortunately I don’t know what species of bird this is, I think it’s probably a species of robin. If anyone can identify it for me I’d love to hear from you.
Video Slideshow download.
As mentioned in previous posts, I have a FREE downloadable video available at my mainsite www.kevindowie.com Annoyingly when you right click to select the “save target as” command, the file wants to download as a “video streaming” file which then proves difficult to open in QuickTime. This has only started to happen in the last 48 hours and at this time I don’t have an explanation for it. I’m trying to sort the issue out, meanwhile if you’re trying to download the file (it’s worth the effort) and you encounter this problem, please add the file extension .mpg4 to the file name in the “save target as” dialogue box. You’ll then find the file saves and plays just fine. Thanks for your patience and thank you Carrie for bringing the issue to my attention.
The laptop computer of the future!
On a lighter note, for those of you wondering about the future of computer technology check out the following link. http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary?utm_source=embedded_video
This remarkable innovation in laptop computer design has just been announced ahead of schedule, I believe it was originally intended for release in early April. Clearly word got out, forcing the designers into the early announcement. cheers KD
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