Tualatin River NWR Photo Walk

On the first Thursday of each month, the Tualatin River NWR Photo Club meets at the refuge, near Sherwood, Oregon.  I’m lucky if I can visit twice a year, as time seems more precious than gold these days.  Usually the group meets in the very nice conference room inside the building, but with the longer daylight hours of early summer, the club took a walk this past Thursday evening on the refuge grounds.  We all walked to the eagle’s nest in the middle of the refuge, and everyone plunked down their tripods and waited for the new eagle to pop its’ head out of the huge nest and take another try at fledging.

It’s always nice to talk photography with other photographers.  I think each photographer’s significant other would agree, as each visit takes an unfair burden of conversation from them.  So we shot the breeze, compared gear and lenses (which is easily done among bird photographers), and waited for the new little eagle to give us a show.  My tripod head was locked into the composition I wanted, and I prefocused my 400mm lens on the nest.  Each time we noticed any movement, I didn’t even need to put my eye behind the viewfinder.  Instead, I just leaned on the shutter in burst mode while watching the action with my naked eye.

As the sun was setting, a pair of wrestling bullfrogs in the dike just behind us entertained us for several minutes.  Below is a photo of one of them wondering whether or not I looked any better than he does.  Then, as I hauled my gear to a spot from which I wanted to frame the sunset lit clouds, a heron sprung up from the drying wetland floor and flew right in front of me.  I had my camera on aperture priority mode and there was no time to change settings.  With no sky in the frame, this gave me a slow shutter speed at just 1/8 of a second as I blasted in the panic of the moment.  Arthur Morris, who is a great influence to my bird photography, has been shooting a lot of slower shutter, blurred wing photos in the past year or so, and I have thoroughly enjoyed most of them.  However, most of his blurred photos are taken at 1/15 of a second.  My 1/8 second shutter speed left everything in the frame to be blurred, but I am still intrigued by the curves painted by the heron’s graceful and long wing stroke in this shot.  Please comment on any opinions you have about this shot.  Some may like it, and others may not.  Either way, I’d appreciate any constructive feedback.

A very nice sunset treated the three of us who hung around and waited until the end of the evening for it.  We were in perfect position to frame the silhouetted oak tree and eagle nest in some fiery lit clouds.  After recently attending Art Wolfe’s new class about inspiration and composition, this simple silhouette really jumped out at me.  I consider Art Wolfe the master of composition, I’m certainly fortunate to have spent a day learning and getting inspired by him.