One very important aspect of bird photography is patience and lots of it, without it you cannot come away with good images; it is also true that even after you have spent hours trying to photograph birds, you may still come away with unsatisfactory results, especially when you are shooting forest birds. While you may not come away with any good images on a given day, if you spend the time and pay close attention to your surrounding, then you will realize that there are much more to forests then just birds. There is so much beauty in the trees, the falling leaves, the intertwined hanging vines and even entangled little insects hanging gently from leaves that with some patience and effort you can do some creative photography.
Over time as I have grown as a bird photographer, I have learned that waiting to photograph birds has given me a keen eye. The hours of waiting for avian action has given me a purpose to utilize my time effectively by paying close attention to the finer details in nature.
The image above of the Eugenia flower reflection was made from a boat while floating down stream in a kayak on the Tembeling river in Taman Negara National Park in Peninsular Malaysia. As we made our way down stream slowly and silently looking for forest birds, I came across this single flower that had fallen from the tree above floating on gentle ripples of shaded water. This was a moment that was screaming for my attention, the single ray of sunlight falling on the flower was giving it a glow against the shaded water, in order to further glorify the beauty of this moment, I needed to add some color on the dark water. I had to signal the kayak operator to maneuver and position ourselves where the subtle reflections of the tree above would fall on the water below and around the flower.
In the creative process my goal was to come up with a surreal looking image, it could suggest simply a flower floating thru time in the darkness of the forest or even an alien riding in the darkness of space, it is open to interpretation.
When working with a prime lens such as the 600mm lens I was shooting with, the advantage I had was that I could look around for finer details and close ups in dense vegetation without leaving my spot and missing an opportunity if a bird got close. A macro lens was not an option as I waited in a tall hide in the forests of Taman Negara. In the image above, the heart shaped leaves and the thin intertwined vine magnifies the inherent beauty that is hidden in the dense and cluttered forest. The front to side lighting here adds a three dimensional touch and further accentuates the beauty and adds a sense of poetry. This low-key image was finally complete when a tiny spider came down and hung as if suspended in time.
I’m often asked if my photography is limited to birds, while it is true that birds are my passion and my photography is mostly dedicated to birds, it is also true that I have become much more in tuned to the environment I shoot in. Over the course of time, having seen the work of many photographers who inspire me and also through my own work, I have realized the limitless possibilities that birds and nature provides us to be creative in our work. Spend time in nature, develop limitless patience, pay attention to your surroundings and look closely at the smallest details, doors to creative photography will open.
“The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” – Paul Strand