Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Lesson in Stepping Back

Sandhill Crane portraits (L: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico R: Jensen Beach, Florida)
There is a natural progression to the life of a wildlife photographer.  When we start out we're just glad to have an animal in our frame.  As we grow we begin to watch the background, we change our angle, we get closer to our subject and then suddenly we discover the joy of a beautiful portrait.  It seems then that all we want are full frame portraits with stunning detail in the feathers and fur and soft, sweet backgrounds in beautiful golden hour light.  There is no doubt that an animal portrait when done right can make the viewer gasp in appreciation. 

Yet, how many portraits of the same animal do we really need?  What does a portrait tell us about that animal, it's environment or how it interacts with it's surroundings?  The next logical step is back. 

Sandhill Cranes waking from their night roost pre-dawn. Platte River, Nebraska

Sandhill Cranes take to the skies as the sun rises over the Platte River, Nebraska