Photo of Savannah Sparrow

Photographing Bobolinks in a Wildflower Meadow

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Photographing Bobolinks in A Wildflower Meadow

I’ve discovered that I don’t have to wait for perfect sunrises or sunsets and a windless day to get a blaze of color in my bird photos.

Photo of Female Bobolink
Female Bobolink, Perched on a Vervain Flower Stalk.
One of Dozens Flying in a Wildflower Field..
ISO 1000; f/10; 1/1600 Second

Capturing Soft Movement in Wildflower Meadows

For artistic inspiration, bird photographers should go in search of wildflower meadows, luminous with dew kissed green and golden grasses, sunflowers and other wild flowers. Birds and butterflies abundantly feed in these fields.

I was sitting quietly in the front passenger seat of my car watching the birds flit about in the grasses and wildflowers. It was a relaxing and meditative scene. Dozens of bobolinks were flying in this field, struggling to perch and then lifting off from the flowing grasses and drooping flowers. I was able to stay clear of too much foliage clutter in the shots because there were three or four tall stalks near the car on which the birds could perch. My camera and lens rested on the door window. It did not take long for one or two of the bobolinks to fly in for a closer look at me.

Photo of Female Bobolink
Female Bobolink Lifting Off from Sunflower Stalk.
ISO 1000; f/10; 1/1600 Second

Compensating for Movement

There is not much exposure flexibility when it’s windy. For these photos, I had to compensate for the effects of the wind (10-15 mph) with a fairly high shutter speed. I also tipped the 500mm (with 2x extender) lens downward just a touch to make sure the entire background was filled with the soft movements and rich colors of the meadow.

Cultivating Beauty

To attract birds, the land preservationists in charge of the Allegan State Game Area cultivate an assortment of seed and grain bearing flowers and grasses. Many years of hard work and preparation went into these low maintenance wildflower meadows. When the sunflowers turn brown and droop their heads, the tiny florets on the head become seeds. They are then ready for the birds to harvest.

Photographing Patterns in the Midst of Disorder

Beauty is there to behold at all stages of a flower’s life, not just at the bloom’s peak. The wind added drama to this wildflower scene and challenged me to try to capture that vibrancy in my bird photos. In the midst of all this background light, movement, energy and disorder, my camera’s sensor captured enticing patterns and vibrant colors.

I loved the caress of the wind in and around me as it reshaped the meadow’s landscape. It’s a glorious feeling and reminded me that I’m not just there to take photos.

 

See this blog post to read more about photography during the golden hour.

See this blog post to read more about photographing Bobolinks.

 

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