Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanagers occupy a special in my heart. You see, it was one of the first two birds I ever photographed. I was 15 years old and bough my first big-boy camera. It was a Minolta XE-7. I had a 50mm normal lens and I wanted to go out and see what it would do.

I took a walk in the woods and saw a bright red bird and took a picture of it. Then I saw a dark blue bird and took a picture of that. Since I was about 100 feet away and I had that 50mm lens, I didn’t fill up much of the frame. But I learned one of my first valuable lessons of photography. The camera cannot keep up with the human mind, meaning what I visualized was beyond the technical capabilities of my gear.

Later in my very early twenties, we won’t go into how long ago that was, I reasoned that since Blue Jays, Robins and Hermit Thrushes (the Vermont State bird) all had names, the other birds must have names too. I discovered Peterson’s field guides and bought one.

With my new Peterson’s guide in my hand, I thought back on that day when I was walking in the woods and got curious about what those birds might have been. So I dug out the slides and projected them across the room. I got a magnifying glass out and squinted at microscopic images the birds on the wall.  One turned out to be a Scarlet Tanager and the second was an Indigo Bunting. Blurry and faint but you just couldn’t confuse the colors with any other birds.

I’ve come a long way since that day.  However, I have not seen both a Scarlet Tanager and an Indigo Bunting on the same day since! Many summers (and a few moons too) later, I present the image of the Scarlet Tanager as I envisioned it when I was a teenager.

©2010 ShootingMyUniverse©2010 ShootingMyUniverse©2010 ShootingMyUniverse This last photo is the female. Not that good, but still light years ahead of my formative days.

So I give you your second lesson in photography. You can envision your image and you can produce it. Never give up on you dreams, they are more real and obtainable than you may immediately believe.

12 comments:

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

What a wonderful post. Great memories, Steve. I remember my first time seeing a Scarlet Tanager as well. Smith Lake, Alabama, perching on a dead tree by the water's edge. One can't miss that bright red bird with black wings. Very striking. Like you, I didn't have a clue what it was and that was my introduction to birds, period. Again, I love this - thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Quilt Works said...

Great photo and such a nice story! Throughly enjoyed it! Always great to here how a major passion begins!

Wilma said...

Gorgeous birds, those scarlet tanagers! Long ago when trying to shoot birds with by normal lens we would routinely project the slides on a white wall and view them with binocculars! It started as a joke, but actually worked quite well. I do miss slide film a bit, but love the world that digital imaging opens up, especially with boggers like you sharing your best shots.

cheers,
Wilma

Carol Mattingly said...

Steve, I love the scarlet tanager. It has that beautiful red that looks almost orange and I did not know the female was a yellow pale color. Great images. Thanks. Carol

Tabib said...

Great images as always.
What a contrast between male and female colour. One Scarlet Ferrari and the other Lotus green colour.

Roy said...

Excellent advice Steve and excellent images as well. Thanks.

Carol said...

Such a beautiful bird...

Susan W. said...

Gorgeous shots! Congrats on the photography!

Mike Simmons said...

Great shots, Steve! Thank you.

Eve said...

Not easy birds to photograph either Steve! I've been bird watching since as long as I can remember Steve. My first big find was a Evening Grosbeak, I was alone in the woods, quite young (8 ish)and had my dads binoculars, that were about the size of my head! When I saw the bird I nearly fell off my stump with excitement and ran home to document the find! If you can believe it, I haven't see one since! I should have worked harder to see them while in NY as it will be quite difficult to find one here in Alabama!

MaineBirder said...

Wonderful post and images Steve!

Chris Petrak said...

Wow - great shots of the tanager. I have found them very difficult to even get a good lingering look much less a respectable photo. Impressive!

Related Posts with Thumbnails