As a bird photographer most of the time I work hard to get close up, frame filling images of the birds I am photographing because I want to be able to see fine details in the plumage and the setting the birds are in plus some light in the bird’s eyes yet I often forget that by backing up my zoom, swapping my long lens for a wide angle lens or backing up physically I can get the “whole picture“.
The day that I created the photograph above there were huge schools of bait fish running just off the coast that caused a feeding frenzy among the gulls, terns, skimmers and pelicans that were there. The feeding frenzy was an amazing sight to see as pelicans dove head first into the water to scoop fish up in their large pouches while gulls tried to snatch the fish as the pelicans surfaced and expelled water from their bills. The terns and gulls also made repeated dives into the water into the schools of fish.
I did take some frame filling images of individual birds that I was very happy with but the thought occured to me that I could not quite capture the whole picture of the “flocking” activity of the birds without zooming back with the lens I had attached or by swapping my Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens for the 18-200mm VR that I always carry in my backpack. I don’t care to swap out my lenses in dusty, wet or sandy conditions so I zoomed back to 80mm on the lens I already had attached to capture this mixed flock in flight.
I’m glad I remembered the “whole picture” because I quite like the final results of the photos where I zoomed back that I took that morning. While they were not frame filling images of individual birds they do show the behavior of the flock quite well.
I just need to remind myself to think about the whole picture.