A special photographic study
For this photographic study I wanted to capture the lifestyle of geese: who they are, how they are, and what they do.
There were two challenges:
1. Geese are often fast moving subjects.
2. Birds are common subjects, yet I want photos that are not common.
Fast Moving Subjects
There were a lot of missed shots. That’s the first thing I discovered about photographing quick-moving subjects like geese. I found that my normal photographic process no longer worked, and I needed to reinvent how I take photos. That was this month’s challenge to myself: learn to shoot in a new way.
As a scenic photographer my normal process is…observe the scene, compose, choose camera settings, shoot. But with fast moving subjects the process became…there’s the subject, now it’s gone, shoot — oops I missed it.
It was also very difficult to set the camera correctly in advance of the shots. Scenes change quickly when panning the camera to track a fast-moving subject. The light levels change, the composition changes, and the distance to subject can change (resulting in a lot of shots with poor focus).
If you could only see the shots I missed!
And yet, sometimes it worked. Some shots had the right combination of events: proper camera settings, good composition, good timing, and sufficient light to get the shot.
Unique Shots of Common Subjects
I don’t really want to be a documentary photographer. I’m an artist and I want a level of artistic appeal in my photographs. For this, I rely on my eye when selecting which shots to show publicly. I’m looking for something artistic to show you.
I think getting unique shots has less to do with the camera and more to do with the photographer’s willingness to get creative.
I spent a lot of time observing the geese, watching their habits. I befriended them at times and was able to move close to them. I moved very slowly and I whispered to them, which reassured them I was not a threat. I literally told them how beautiful they are and I meant it. It was a great experience. I got down on the ground and mingled with them.
Getting close to the geese was necessary because I don’t have a telephoto lens. Without a telephoto lens you have to get close to your subject. And when I was not able to get close, such as when the geese were landing in the lake, I had to crop the photo pretty heavily after the shot was taken to get the composition I wanted.
Are the photos unique? This is what I asked myself about each of the photos I took: how easy is it for another photographer to go out and capture a shot just like this one?
Ok, maybe it’s possible? But I want it to be difficult. I think some of the shots can be replicated if someone really tries.
But a few of them will prove difficult to capture exactly.
This was a month-long study. Imagine a year-long study. What shots could come out of a year-long study? And with a telephoto lens.
This was a photographic study of geese from spring 2022. Location: Cary, North Carolina.