Ross’s Geese, Evening Fly-Out. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 1, 2013. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Ross’s geese take flight in sunset light above California’s Central Valley
So much of this sort of photography is almost entirely not under the control of the photographer. For example, in this shot it just happened that the foreground group of Ross’s geese lifted off from the nearby pond as the further groups that had left earlier lined up beyond them. The lovely formation of the front group was entirely determined, as far as I can tell, by the geese and not by me! Of all the sky conditions that I had encountered on this day, it was fortuitous that the flock lifted off in the direction of this color gradient and then rose to the right height to be in front of it as they ascended. And it was especially gracious of them to lift off as the last golden hour sun hit them from the west, and on a side where I could see it.
So what does the photographer get to take credit for in cases like these? There are, of course, choices about when and where to park oneself to increase the odds that something interesting will happen in front of the lens. And there is the matter of instincts of various sorts, without which it would be very difficult (or should I say, even more unlikely) to have the camera pointed the right direction at the right time and to click the shutter button at an opportune moment. Exposures must be reasonably close to right, which is a trickier thing than some think. And then there is some combination of recognizing luck when it comes your way, intuitively recognizing and tracking what is happening, and being able to follow the birds and instantly recognize when an interesting visual pattern occurs.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.