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Posts Tagged ‘geese’

Earlier this month, when the ponds were almost completely frozen over at my local marsh, I watched as some Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) zoomed across the ice at a very low altitude. It looked like they were racing each other. In the background you can see some potential spectators, but they didn’t seem to want to get caught up in a wild goose chase.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was cold enough Monday that the pond at my local marsh froze over. The ice may not have been thick, but it complicated landings for migrating Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).

One goose slid to a stop by lowering its tail, as other geese watched with varying degrees of interest. It has warmed up a bit and we’ve had a lot of rain since Monday, so the ice is almost certainly gone by now, but I suspect that I will see this scene repeated as we move into winter.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes you don’t have to make a choice between two options—you can have them both.

In this morning’s blog posting, I posed the question, “When it comes to images of birds in flight, do you prefer the sky as the background or some element of the earth?” and I received quite a few responses, with a greater number having a preference, in general, for background or contextual elements rather than a plain blue sky.

Sometimes I manage to get an image that incorporates the best of both worlds. This image, for example, has one Canada Goose against a leafy background, one against the sky, and one in between.

Who says you have to choose? (In the interest of full disclosure, I intentionally set up the question as a false dichotomy in order to stimulate thinking. For me, the best answer to the question I posed, which called on you to make a sweeping overgeneralization, was the person who responded quite simply with the words, “It depends.”)

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When it comes to images of birds in flight, do you prefer the sky as the background or some element of the earth? Here are two photographs of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) that I took this past Monday that illustrate my question.

Canada Geese are some of my favorite subjects as I try to improve my skills in photographing flying birds—they are relatively big, flight slowly (especially when taking off and landing), and, perhaps most importantly, there are a lot of them.

In some ways, it’s a little easier to track a bird in the sky, since there is nothing else to grab the camera’s focus (if you can lock in the focus quickly enough). However, the light is a lot more variable, particularly when a bird is circling, so proper exposure is a challenge and shadows are a sad reality. I was happy that I was able to time the second shot so that the light illuminated most of the underside of the goose. Some photographers, though, seem to look down at photos of birds in the sky and prefer more environmental shots.

I had to act quickly to get the shot of the goose with the trees in the background, when some geese took off and flew by me at almost eye level. The trees were far enough away that they blurred out and the head of the goose is mostly in focus. Depth of field is always an issue for me in shots like this—you can actually see the depth of field in the amount of the extended wings that is in focus.

So there you have it, two different shots of a goose in flight. Does the background play a role in your assessment of which one you prefer?

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Standing at the end of a small pond, I heard the sounds of an approaching flock of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). I looked all around as I prepared to track them and couldn’t help noticing areas of beautiful autumn foliage.

Wouldn’t it be cool  if I could capture the geese landing with the colorful leaves as a background? I put that idea in the back of my mind, remembering that it was going to be tough enough to capture decent shots of the geese without worrying about the background.

It’s a noisy crazy couple of moments when the geese come in for a landing—they come in waves and there is so much activity that it’s hard to figure out what to focus on. Usually, as I did here, I will try to concentrate on a single bird as it approaches and to keep it in focus.

I captured this image at the moment when the geese were slowing down just prior to entry into the water. My main subject is in a pretty good focus and the other geese are in interesting positions. I was surprised that I was able to get the orange background—it had been a hope, but certainly not an expectation. The result is an image that I really like, an image that combines two of the iconic elements of the autumn.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Monday, I watched a family of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis), the parents and five little goslings, as they made their way from a little pond to forage in a field of cattails nearby. It was raining at the time, as you can see in the first photo, where two of the babies are swimming along (there was one parent to the front and one to the rear in the little convoy).

Once they made it to drier land, the little geese vigorously munched on small bits of vegetation. In the second photo, there is a little piece of a plant hanging out of the mouth of the baby goose. When they were in the water, the goslings looked like round balls of fluff, but they look more gangly and awkward on land.

I noticed a couple of geese sitting on what appeared to be nests. If so, I suspect I will be taking more photos of cute little baby geese.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I really like to show contrasts, like the difference in the expressions and body positions of these two Canada Geese.

What prompted the one on the right to get so vocal and in the face of the other? Is this the kind of taunting that I see so often in professional sports? Is it some kind of marital misunderstanding? Is the one on the right playing the role of a drill sergeant dealing with a recruit?

Whatever the cause, one I know for sure—at close range the honking was earsplittingly loud. I can only imagine the goose on the right reprising the line from a television commercial for a phone company, “Can you hear me now?”

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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