The aim of all serious bird photographers should be to create art from their images.
Anyone can take an image of a bird and make it look great on the internet, where most people view it on their cell phone.
If you are a serious photographer, your ultimate goal should be to take an image that you can make into a beautiful print, one you would be proud of hanging on the wall in your lounge.
If this is your goal then you must pick the right place at the right time.
I know a place that will produce wonderful images of waterfowl and wading birds in the right conditions. I also run Pauatahanui photography workshops in this location for anyone interested in participating in one.
Pauatahanui photography workshops
Pauatahanui Inlet runs eastward directly inland from the kāpiti-mana coast for about two miles.
The estuary runs directly to the sea in a straight line, touching the horizon without any serious obstructions.
This means that when the sun is almost sinking into the sea, the light still shines directly into the pond filling the place with an amazing, almost unbelievable golden glow.
My spot is a small saltmarsh, complete with a tidal pond at the very end of the estuary, surrounded by native jointed wire rush or oi oi in Maori.
I know that when the light is right these wild rushes intensify the light, setting the place ablaze in glorious golden light.
What I need is a combination of a fine night with little or no wind, then I know I’m going to get stunning images.
Just the other night such conditions were forecast and Rosie Nixon and I headed out to my spot in the hope that the conditions would not change.
In this image of a Spurwing Plover, the light is on the change, slowly the colour of the jointed wire rush or oi oi that surrounds the pond is changing from an almost pale dead straw colour to a much warmer golden glow.
Thirty minutes and a cup of coffee later, the light is really starting to make its self felt.
The jointed wire rush or oi oi is starting to go through its colour shift.
Ths sun is sinking lower and I know that the sun is now perfect to catch the red colour of the poaka or pied stilts eyes. Knowing this can allow us to capture beautiful images.
The light now being glorious has its downside, that being slower shutter speeds.
Getting flying birds with sharp wings now becomes more good luck than good management.
I have nailed the bird but the wings have motion blur.
Waiting a few more minutes means that will now be at its very best. The light is now at it’s very best and the colour is intense.
With the sun now lower, the very lowest parts of the pond have lost the direct sun. This creates a demarcation between the bright direct sun (top)and the more subdued indirect light (bottom), thus adding contrast.
The end of the golden light is fast approaching as the sun drops below the horizon.
With no chance of feezing the action, the only other option is to try and create an interesting image.
The light will often carry the emotional response for the viewer and that first initial response often dictates whether the viewer enjoys the image or not.
Our night was soon over and Rosie seems very pleased with her evening’s efforts.
Not even the incessant flying insects can put a damper on that smile.