Yesterday I was focused on photographing this Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) that was perched on a boulder with the Great Salt Lake below it in the background. I had nice light, a lovely setting plus the bird seemed more interested in singing than my presence.
Western Meadowlarks are beautiful songsters and their call is one that makes me think of cool spring mornings and how much I enjoy my early morning journeys into the natural world. They are handsome birds too.
As I focused this bird I noticed some movement at the bottom of my viewfinder, there was a large tan, out of focus blob that appeared to be moving towards the Meadowlark. It was a little confusing at first until I moved the viewfinder away from my eyes a bit and saw a Chukar (Alectoris chukar) moving up towards the same boulder the Meadowlark was singing from.
The Chukar was so close that I had to very quickly back up my zoom to fit the whole bird in. It was about the same moment the Chukar noticed our presence and it started moving down the boulder towards the grasses instead of making the climb to the top.
I didn’t have time to change my exposure compensation which had been set for the Meadowlark perched with the blue of the Great Salt Lake behind it and I knew that these images might be slightly over exposed. Fortunately I was able to reduce the exposure in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) easily.
I could tell I loved the background through my viewfinder, the large boulder was far enough away that I didn’t need to worry about it being in focus but it still showed the lovely colors and textures of the rock.
The Chukar didn’t seem to be in a great hurry so I was able to get a series of images as it carefully made its way down the boulder. I liked that I could see the red legs, spurs and dark toenails in this frame.
As the bird moved closer to the ground I noticed how fresh it plumage was and the beautiful but subtle coloration along the back and wings.
Had I not seen that moving, tan blob beyond my viewfinder I could have easily missed being able to create these Chukar images. Sure, I have hundreds (if not thousands) of Chukar images but I am always looking for different poses, light conditions and settings to photograph my subjects in and this worked out very well.
Lesson Learned… Look beyond the viewfinder at times!