Saturday, January 5, 2013

CHICKADEE DREAMS


Like all photographers, I have my dreams…one of which is making a great shot of a chickadee. Trust me, I haven't set the bar too high. I'm not looking for the spectacular—just a modestly good image. Merely a picture of a chickadee—Carolina or black-capped, we have both here and either will do—sitting on a limb, in nice light, with every feather sharp and showing detail, plus a catchlight in the eyes. 

That's my chickadee dream. A quintessential image. Something not all that different than shots I've taken of cardinals and bluejays and red-bellied woodpeckers. I see such photos on other blogs all the time. Sometimes I look at them and mutter enviously. I'm a reasonably competent photographer. I have more than adequate gear. I know how to compensate for various light. And Lord knows, chickadees are neither shy nor uncommon—so it can't be lack of opportunity.  

Fine. Then what's the problem? 

Luck? Karma? Some self-blocking conflict of inner psychological turmoil stemming from a youthful nightmare involving chickadees and the bogeyman? I flat don't know. I've made dozens of photo attempts, perhaps hundreds. And I've come close…but close, as they say, only counts in hand-grenades and horseshoes. The photo at the top of this post certainly doesn't qualify. In fact, when I came upon it while sorting through my latest endeavors, I almost gave it the ol' delete click for banishment into digital purgatory. But then I thought…hey, this kinda sums up my chickadee dreams frustrations.     

22 comments:

Arija said...

Grizz dear, I really don't know what you are on about! You photograph a glimpse of an angel and complain it is not a chickadee???

All the best for you and your Ladylove in this arbitrary division of time.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Yeah, you're right…I should be taken to task. It is kind of an interesting photo, and looks better on the page than I expected. I'm not really complaining about it so much as grousing about this simple portrait-type image I envision and can't seem to produce.

Good to hear from you. It's been a while and I've wondered how you were doing.

Robin said...

Grizz... when I clicked on your page I thought 'what a gorgeous photograph' and went on to read the post. Thank God you didn't delete it.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I'm glad you like it. Actually, it's kinda growing on me, too.

Debbie said...

I know what you mean!I've shot hawks, eagles and owls! Chickadees appear quickly and disappear just as quickly..almost like shootin a hummingbird . I have a couple of fair pictures, but had to focus my camera on the feeder and wait FOREEVER for a chance to take the shot. Seems I always get them coming or going! I've seen pitures of people feeding them on the palms of their hands. I don't think I'd ever have the patience for that! They are beautiful, and if I could... I'd paint them.
Debbie

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I know what you mean! It took me a week, working on this, to capture them kamikazee! bombing off the tree!
Very tricky!!!

Cheers from Cottage Country!

George said...

Glad to know there is a least on bird that has not fallen prey to your photographic mastery. We need the elusive in life no less that the attainable. The elusive bird for me is the pileated woodpecker. I see them fairly often, but I still haven't nailed the shot.

KGMom said...

And the photo is, in its own way, very arty.

Jayne said...

Does it help to know you're not alone? Hehe... I've come close, but the black coloration makes it so hard to get details at all. Cheeky and fast little buggers they are!

Grizz………… said...

Debbie…

Yup, they're fast little buggers. And their black and white plumage is an exposure challenge—best captured in the soft light of a cloudy day. Of course then, that highlight in the eye is typically missing. And it seems like when I do get all that right, I've managed to photograph a doofus chickadee—one with a silly expression, or needing a good feather smoothing, or a bird who has obviously been hanging around the suet block with the woodpeckers and is now all greasy and grotty.

Can you tell I'm starting to get a little hinky about this?

Grizz………… said...

Jennifer…

A week! I'm not even going to tell you how long I've been at it! Egads! A week!

Grizz………… said...

George…

Huh. I have pileated shots by the dozens. It took me a while until I figured their routine and got to be good at bushwhacking 'em in the big hackberry. They're real spooky (most of the time) and quite alert—and a sure-enough challenge. But I see them every day. However, I can stand on my deck hours on end and have chickadees hang upside-down on a branch five feet away and give me their little beady-black-eyed scrutiny. Ought to be simple to point and shoot. "Ought to be" is the operative phrase. Pileateds are elusive; chickadees are practically family members…except not for me. For me they'relike trying to photograph sasquatch.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Inadvertently arty, at best—and that's a fact. I ended up saving it because of the simplicity of the composition and the symmetry.

Grizz………… said...

Jayne…

Ahhh, you do understand. That black cap needs to have detail; the eyes highlights; the buff and white details—then there's composition, expression, background. And you have to get it all right in about a half-second. Not nearly as easy as it seems, at least for me. But some folks apparently can reel in good chickadee images at will. I, alas, am not one of 'em. But I'm still trying.

AfromTO said...

okay you captured a breathtaking ephemeral moment-but are stuck on an expectation you didn't fulfill-remember to look at your work without prejudice-it is stunning.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

I understand what you're saying, and agree—though in my defense, I really wasn't connecting this blog shot with my trying to capture a basic chickadee portrait. I'm certainly not prejudiced against this shot.

This is one of those, as you correctly say, "ephemeral moments." I was lucky to capture it—and it was purely by luck. Perhaps it works fairly well as art.

But what I was griping and writing about was an illustrative image. If you were trying to describe a chickadee to someone, this photo would not be of much use…art, possibly, breathtaking ephemeral moment, perhaps, good reference image, no.

My desire is always to manage both; to come back from a shoot with both sorts of images. Though one just happens—serendipity—while the other comes as the result of working toward a preconceived goal. And honestly, my true goal is even a little more—because I think the best nature portraits include personality of the subject, mood, an expression of life and character…even a visible connection between the photographer and the bird or animal. THAT'S really the image I'm looking for.

I'll take all the serendipity shots I can get; but I also want to manage those goal shots I envision.

AfromTO said...

anyway it is just plain great art.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Grizz - This is just to say thank you for your lovely, positive comments on my health problem. I am a pretty positive person and hopefully shall not let it get me down - but comments like yours definitely go a long way towards helping me. Love to you.

Richard said...

Be patient Grasshopper.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

I appreciate that, and you. Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I've read and admired you and your blogged world for several years now, and know you are generally positive. But I also know how difficult it is when that world seems to suddenly dim and close in…and how easy it then becomes to feel alone and helpless. Fear and depression can immediately take over and rob us of the strength and attitude we need to look at things objectively and make the best of whatever situation life has dealt. The measure of our mettle is not how many times we get knocked down, but how many times we get back up. You will be in my thoughts and prayers—and I have every confidence I'll be reading and enjoying your lovely blog for years to come.

Grizz………… said...

Richard…

Ha, ha! You've given me the best laugh I've had all day! I will be patient. Thank you!