I am primarily a bird photographer.The common opinion is that as a birder you need to shoot rare birds. Rare birds are a welcome opportunity, but what can you do when you live in a big town and can’t travel a lot to other places. That is exactly what happened in my case. My opportunities to travel are limited because I have no car. There are a lot of birds living in town parks and luckily, they are not as shy as wild birds. Here, there is potential to catch some really exciting shots.
This autumn, when all migratory birds have gone, it was very difficult to find a bird to photograph. This happens every year because birds follow the seasons, they change living places a lot. This year I decided to try to capture something interesting from a sparrows behavior. Sparrows are fairly tame birds and where they are most tame is usually around the people who feed them. It was not difficult to find such a place and it was the famous Sculpture Park where I have seen sparrows before. Luckily in the place where sparrows live was some asphalt bending which captures rain water. On this particular day, there was no rain water so I took my own. On rainy days there is usually a problem photographing sparrows (due to the rain of course) and sparrows don’t wash their feathers either.
The set up was perfect: the water-pool was in sunshine. There was one problem I needed to deal with, and that was the people. People were curious about a man who was laying on the asphalt with a big lens.That was really a challenge. Tourists poured into the famous park. Buses with tourists come and go every ten minutes and I was laying near that pool and was photographed and video taped by curious tourists constantly. That is quite a miserable feeling getting this kind of fame, a sacrifice if you want to get bird photos for free. Here’s another article on pet and wildlife photography.
All this is manageable. What you get for this is astonishing.You can photograph sparrows in their environment without frightening them. Birds as usual are quite scared of bigger lenses, but sparrows (after receiving food) don`t care about your lens after an hour or so. You give them food and the show starts to role.
To get these shoots, took almost a week and I missed more then I took. Every morning I spent 2-3 hours so I could catch something exciting, but luck was always on my side. Sadly most of the time is spent waiting.
Quite amazing thing is that to photograph this kind of “wild life” the challenge is not to be trampled by people. I was an attraction for the tourists, so the attention swas misspent a little. I did need to calm my nerves, but if you manage that, the chances to take good pictures are truly high. There is no need for a long tele lens. Even a modest 300mm or 400mm is enough. Of course all the ingredients of wild life shooting were here. Lots of missed pictures because of timing issues. Fractions of a second means a lot or nothing. A second is a large portion of time here, so only a fraction of this is the time available where you must react.
Amazing, but sparrows are neglected by serious bird photographers and you probably can`t get an award for the best photo of sparrows behavior. An Eagle is not a sparrow it is the king here and photographers get more praise and attention if they photograph these eagles and similar splendid birds, but for wild life photography training, the sparrow is excellent. You can observe all bird like behavior in one single place. They don’t fly away and stay almost all of their life in that one place – a big advantage.
I never expected this season that one of my best photos (by my own opinion) would be a sparrow photo. Maybe not the best, but one I like a lot, and even decided to write this article about it. Keep in mind that my native language is not English but Lithuanian so this article has been a time consuming business. But I did find time to do this in the end.
A contribution by Petras Abromavicius
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