In my photography, I love capturing all the vibrant colors of our world. So when I stumbled upon this patch of marsh marigolds I was captivated by the sea of yellow that blanketed the landscape, knowing it would make for some awesome shots. Particularly I wanted to utilize the yellow flowers to create a colorful background for photos of small birds. This was not as simple as it sounds due to a severe lack of places for birds to land surrounding the marsh marigolds. The only option was a single dead tree along the trails edge, no taller than my shoulder. I set up in front of what I’m sure would have grown into a superb tree, but now was bare and lifeless withering away to time and the elements. My strategy was patience, I was going to stand here staring at this dead plant until something landed on it. I stood there for 20 minutes or so when someone on a leisurely walk passed by, “How’s it going?” they said with a nod. “Good. Just seeing how long I can stare at this dead tree…” I replied slowly drifting away into a state of marigold madness. A couple minutes later my first visitor would be a tufted titmouse.
The birds had to land low enough on the branches so the marigolds were behind them, if they landed too high it was just dark boring dead trees in the background. This happened several times but luckily some of the birds also hopped around to the lower parts where all the color was!
For my second visit I had decided to test out an older camera, the Nikon D300 which you can read about in last week’s blog. This location was perfect for using the 80-200 f/2.8 AF-S lens since the birds were landing fairly close to where I was standing. A couple tufted titmice were happy to dance around the branches, but the most surprising visitor was a downy woodpecker. Finally something other than a titmouse!
On my third and final visit the focus was on a different subject, sandhill cranes. I tried standing by my trusty dead tree, but the small birds must have had other plans that day. I really wanted to get a shot of a northern cardinal because I think the red bird with a yellow background would have looked really cool, but it was not meant to be. Three sandhill cranes were hanging around the marsh, they have become accustomed to humans at this park so getting close wasn’t an issue. The cranes mostly stuck to the walking trail, stepping into the flowers only to avoid me or other passersby.
The shot above is my favorite I got during my marigold induced madness. I love the pose as the crane lets out a prehistoric call, with one of their three eyelids covering their eyeball. I also like that some of the flowers in the foreground are visible before they eventually fade into a blur of yellow, I think this helps to ground the subject in its environment and tells a more detailed story within the image.
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