Geese Take Flight in Dusk Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 1, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Motion-blurred photograph of a flock of Ross’s geese taking flight in dusk sky above the San Joaquin Valley, California
This is another example of what I’ve taken to referring to my “blurreds in flight” photographs. (Yes, a bad pun on the common subject of “birds in flight,” also known as “bif” photographs.) Very early morning or dusk seem like good times to experiment with this, as the very dim light often pushes the ability of photographer and gear to continue to shoot as ISOs rise, apertures enlarge… and eventually one runs out of maneuvering room. Just lower that ISO and let the birds blur!
But that’s not really why I do these. While I suppose that I’m just as interested in trying to produce very sharp images of birds frozen in flight by high shutter speeds and accurate autofocus, I sometimes feel that this more clinical approach isn’t the only way to capture or express the qualities of these animals and what I can observe of their lives. In a sense, the still camera “lies” about what we can actually see of these birds when we are there and watching them. In low light, often observing from a distance, when a group of Ross’s geese suddenly takes flight in a wild maelstrom of honking and flapping wings, we really cannot see all of the specific details of each feather and the impression we have is more often one of wild motion and surprise. While I don’t think a photograph can ever fully or accurately depict this, allowing the motion to become visible by using slow shutter speeds might evoke a sense of these animals that the razor-sharp, stop-action photographs might miss.
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.