In bird photography, frame filling shots, showing the bird in all its glory, every feather, every color on the bird popping out of the frame, making the viewer fall in love with it, are awesome, there’s no doubting that. However, it’s my personal opinion that bringing in a bit of the bird’s habitat into the frame adds a few more pixels of aesthetic value to the image.
There could be various reasons for this thinking of mine. It might be a bit prejudiced as well, owing to the fact that I look in awe at those bazooka lenses which gets one up-close and personal with the bird, while I have to make do with my medium/short telephoto :) Albeit this, I would still say that my thought has some value to it.
The ‘Bird in scape’, I refer to here, is not on the lines of what we get with a wide angle lens. It’s more of what one can fit in, with a medium to short telephoto ( like 200-300mm ) or even sometimes with the bazookas. Such images, am sure are equally appealing to the viewers, harboring the added benefit of involving them in understanding the bird’s general environment.
One can get a lot of opportunities to make such images, when on a safari. While waiting at a spot ( a water hole or such), hoping for a sighting to happen, is probably the best time to enjoy making them.
Such was a moment on the backwaters of Bhadra. While we were waiting in our jeep, I noticed this little bird ( hoping it is a Paddy field Pipit ) jumping down and back up, on to this little stump of a tree, that was. I took the bird as a subject and tried to make this image by including the beautiful and colorful shrubs all around the tree stump.
This one was again during a safari, in Kabini. Early in the morning, the golden light of the rising sun was too good to resist and the subject that I could spot was this Egret, moving slowly along the bank.
Safari in Kabini again. We were waiting at a water hole, waiting for a tigress to show herself. The CSE ( Crested Serpent Eagle ) was sitting at a distance and the whole forest was bright and green owing to the heavy pre-monsoon showers. These came together to help me make this image.
In Galibore, early in the morning, on a coracle, the sun was rising, throwing in a golden hue across the river. The low angle of view from the coracle helped and this darter at that opportune moment, was trying to dry its wings, resulting in this image.
The image below, I should say, was more, a result of pure lack of reach. Was on an elephant safari, early in the morning, in Kaziranga. Wanted to see the Pallas Fish Eagle, up close. But, the whole place was covered in mist and this was the only individual I could see, that too at a distance. So, tried to make the best use of the opportunity and made this image.
Once again in Kaziranga, in a jeep this time, the Grey headed Fish Eagle, was absolutely out of reach. But the beautiful grassland helped in providing a scape perspective of the bird.
This was in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. Again, early in the morning, the light was beautiful, with some parts of the crater grassland in the shadow. The Ostrich, running across the grassland, came into the light, just at the right time, to help me make this image.
So, while on a safari, it is better to never put one’s camera away, either because of the lack of reach or because of not many big game sightings coming by. Just looking around, one can surely find many opportunities for making some beautiful habitat images.
That was a short photo essay using a few images from my collection, in an attempt to elucidate the concept of Bird in a Scape or Bird in Habitat, whichever way, one may choose to call it. They surely bring in an element of mystery to the image, making the audience wanting to learn more about the bird’s habitat.
Hope you enjoyed it. This could very well apply to mammals or even macros subjects, a topic for another blog post :)