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The Camargue's Birds

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I guess that I'm a closet "nature photographer wannabe" - hanging out for hours with these birds waiting for them to do something interesting and for the light to be "just right" was actually quite a lot of fun.  While the flamingoes surprised me on a regular basis, and they regularly didn't do what I wanted them to do (several outings were just "duds"), the unexpected was often as much fun as the desired behavior.


Below are my favorite shots from the several days of shooting.  Most of the images are flamingoes (the main draw to the area) but there are a few other birds since the area is rich in birdlife.  I have grouped the photos into several categories and included my favorite few in each one.  I hope you enjoy them.


(Clicking on an image below will bring up a larger version of it.)



The Flamingoes


Just your everyday gathering of noisy flamingoes.


Heading to the other end of the pond - either to feed or in preparation for takeoff (into the wind).

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One of the 2 common feeding techniques.  They seem to skim the surface in this technique - the other one simply involves sticking their head fully into the water.


The wind was howling pretty much in every outing which would mess up the flamingoes' plumage (kind of like messy hair, eh?).  It did make for some very low landing speeds and elegant touchdowns though.


I'm still not sure how they ended up like this.  These two were not love birds - they kept having little territorial spats.  Then again, maybe they were love birds ;-)


Not so happy with the feeding neighbor.



A side and front view of those funny beaks - it was nice of these 2 birds to pose like this ;-)


The soft, evening light really enhances the "pinkness"




The immature flamingoes are black instead of pink.


Some flamingoes were more pink than others...some were just mostly white.




And s-t-r-e-t-c-h.



Bird portraiture (?)

I ran across a couple of birds that I just had to photograph.  My favorites are the photos that had a background that didn't distract from the bird, or a background that enhanced the overall photo.  The kingfisher I had to include because it was such a pretty bird and was just too fast and too fleeting to capture on a nicer background...maybe next time.


This guy is a captive raptor (in one of those "large cage" enclosures) and happened to be in a spot where the background just "washed out."  He even obliged me with a straight on look.

ZE2G8673 portrait crop.jpg

Interspersed amongst the flamingoes and mallards were a couple of these cute little guys - Red-crested Pochards. 



Description in the Peterson Field Guide: Small, stumpy; brilliant blue-green back; warm rufous under-parts


An Egyptian Vulture (in captivity).  A soft portrait to help make this interesting bird "look younger" (my excuse for not making sure the eyes were sharp). 



Birds in flight

This was a lot of fun (when they flew close enough to be anything but specks in the lens).  In flight, the flamingoes look like "sticks with wings."





ZE2G8850.jpg ZE2G8851.jpg

The take-off run....




...airborne and accelerating...





One flamingo cooperated to let me include the almost full moon in the image.

I thought it was really quite a contrast to see how awkward the flamingoes appear while coming in to land,

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and how graceful they are in the actual landing.




Blurs and Silhouettes (the artsy shots)

Once the sun is down and most of the light is gone, continuing to photograph requires using a rather slow shutter speed.  There was no way to freeze the action, so I though it would be fun to experiment with some blurring - I was pleased with some of these blurs because of the colorful nature of the flamingoes.



I liked this one because of how the lead flamingo held its neck steady to make it the sharpest point in the photo.

1/20 sec @ f2.8


I liked the colors and reflections in this one.  It really gives you a sense of the commotion as these guys take off.

1/15 sec @ f2.8


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A close-in crop.


Really more of a flight photo - but there wasn't enough light to freeze the wings completely. I liked the resulting colors and lack of sharp definition on the wings.

1/200 sec @ f2.8




On a few of the nights in the field, the sun and sky were particularly colorful, so it was an opportunity to try some silhouettes.  These are my 2 favorites.



I call this one "Coming Home."  It evokes in me the emotion and anticipation (and some sadness) of eventually concluding our trip and coming back home.


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Last modified: 06/13/08