Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How to photograph a tern

First find a marshy place
with a dock.

Around the dock, look for some comfortable pilings
where the bird might like to perch.

Then, on the pilings, photograph something for the tern
something beautiful and strange that will make it feel at home.

(I found a couple pelicans.)

Then wait with your camera.
Don't speak.
Don't move.

(Hide behind a piling if you have to.)

Sometimes a tern will come quickly
but it can just as well take hours.

Don't be discouraged if one doesn't come right away

Wait years if necessary
it doesn't mean that your photo won't be good.

When the bird comes
if it comes,
remain absolutely silent.

Wait until the bird poses for you
then quietly take frame after frame.

Move closer if you like.

Try not to cut off its tail feathers.

If you get too distracted or excited
and forget to show the best angle on the bird
or have too much pelican in the background
don't worry.

(You can fix most anything in PhotoShop later.)

Just photograph the bird
with the prettiest splash of blue for a background
or green if that's what you prefer
and remember to have fun.

Photograph the summer breeze, too
and the smell of the sunshine and the ruckus of the boat-tailed grackles.

Then wait for your bird to sing.

(With terns this is an optional step, of course.)

If it doesn't sing, don't be sad.
You did your best.

But if the bird sings,
it's a very good sign.

(Terns seem to spend a lot of time looking at their toes when they should instead be singing.)

It helps to have a great lens when taking photos of birds.

It also helps to have a friend willing to loan you such a lens
be warned tho
you'll want your own.

are you listening?



Susan Gets Native said...


Word verification: aless
"Susan looked morosely into her glass, sad to see that the glass was aless."

JANE said...

I love your 'voice'! Just found your blog today.. cried twice over the bunny posts (SO sorry about Boomer and Cricket). You're on my RSS. Thanks.. Jane.

bobbie said...

This post is a real winner!

Jayne said...

Great captures Laura! Especially love that last shot of pondering the toes. :c)

LauraO said...

Enjoyed this one, and really good photos. Having a cooperative tern helps, but patience really pays.

NCmountainwoman said...

I just loved this one. Not too many terns here in the mountains but I will find the information helpful next time we go to the beach.

fourwindsphotojournal said...

I loved this lesson, Laura. My problem is, I haven't got back step number one yet!

Super photos

MevetS said...

The lens may help with the images (although the photographer has a bit to do with it too) but it is no help with the words.

Rabbits' Guy said...

I think the tern enjoyed it all too!!!

robin andrea said...

How lucky to find a tern sitting like that. Every time I've ever seen one, it's been circling above the water and then diving for food. What a great opportunity you had for such fantastic photos.

RuthieJ said...

Good job Laura! This post really made me :-)

jason said...

Absolutely delightful! Beautiful photos and ticklish text.

Christine said...

Oh, these uncooperative, irresistible creatures! You've captured the spirit of them, and us, so well. Where's my camera?

Laura K said...

Loved your post.

Larry Jordan said...

What a fun post Laura! I loved the photos but your narrative made the reading a real joy.

outwalkingthedog said...

Beautiful post and photos. I love the last one, examining toes. Thanks!