What do you get when you cross a passion for photography with a life-long love of birds? 365 Days of Birds – my husband Rich’s latest project. It’s a year long challenge he created for himself, dedicated to photographing a bird a day. As a fairly new amateur photographer, his intent was to use the assignment to improve his photography skills.
Now we are 61 days into the project. Yes, we. For although it’s Rich’s project, it has a habit of spilling over into my life as well. All the way out to Colorado and back, he scanned the skies. After all, he had to get his bird for the day. Then there are the pre-dawn ventures, hoping to get that golden hour light on his birds. Or the spontaneous photo opps on our way home from church. I never realized this project would be so all-consuming. But I will also grant that he has gotten some amazing photos.
Although Rich has frequently invited me to accompany him on his bird hunts or other photo shoots, I don’t often go along. I’ve learned that I just don’t have the dedication, patience and persistence that it takes to get the perfect photo. Nor do I have much staying power in the bitter cold – a staple for photographers in northern Minnesota. So I accept my limitations and pursue my own passions. Writing in the warmth of our lovely home, with a big mug of steaming coffee nearby suits me quite well.
This evening I must have let my guard down, as I agreed to accompany Rich out to see a Great Horned Owl and her owlets in a nearby park. Armed with my own camera and tripod, I set up shop next to Rich and promptly photographed the dead stub of a branch on the tree. A nearby photographer with a foot-long lens on his camera kindly set me straight, and it became clear just how well camouflaged Mrs. Owl was. And peering at the display on the back of my camera, I could just make out the owlet. To the naked eye, both were nearly invisible.
Somewhere overhead, father owl perched invisibly in a tree. I couldn’t see him at all until he swooped down and flew overhead to a distant grove of trees. From there, he traded hoots with Mrs. Owl and baby owlet turned to the sound of his voice. That was really cool. Unfortunately, so was I. As the cold seeped through my jacket and my fingers turned to useless stiff appendages, my interest waned. Still, I was glad I’d seen them and hoped I’d gotten at least one decent photo.
So now I ask, what do you get when you cross a fair weather wanna-be photographer with a natural reverence for majestic creatures? One Day of Birds.