Birds in the Wild
Bird Photography - An accessible leisure activity !

They abound, we hear them, but curiously, they often pass unnoticed. Undoubtedly because birds have been sharing our dwellings and lives for so long, we at time see them no more, as if they were part of the scenery. But the instant we take the time to observe the world in which we live, we quickly discover how fascinating these descendants of dinosaurs truly are. They are small, feverish and often tinged with shimmering colors. And as though that weren't enough… they fly!

Powerful symbol of freedom to some, incarnation of fragility to others, how can one be astonished at the growing number of people attempting to get closer to birds by feeding them in their back yard or balcony. In fact, in the last few years, observing birds has come to count among the most practiced pass-times in all of North America.

This increasing passion for birds manifest's itself in many ways. Some go out on grand observation tours, whilst others prefer to observe them from the comfort of their patio. Thousands of people regularly participate in the numerous activities offered by the thirty of so bird watching clubs of Quebec. Some build nesting boxes or take inventories. Some passionates will not hesitate to travel hundreds of kilometers in hopes of catching a few glimpses of an uncommon bird. Ornithology (the study of birds) thus offers a multitude of activities to satisfy all tastes.

For a long time, photographing birds was an original way to practice ornithology. Once the reserved privilege of a few rare experts, this discipline has now become a leisure activity practiced by a far vaster auditory. The possibility of acquiring equipment at a reasonable price undoubtedly has something to do with the phenomena, but it certainly isn't the only factor which incites people to begin to learn this leisure. I believe that our need to rekindle with nature counts for much in this decision. To pull off a good bird photograph is somewhat taking a breath of fresh air into the house, it's like capturing a hint of life. It is also the pleasure of being able to share with others the happiness you feel for having momentarily been the privileged witness to a precious moment. On a less "esoteric" note, a bird photograph is also tangible proof of the existence of the subject and a formidable work instrument for scientists. The diffusion of these images can become a powerful tool for education purposes and consciousness raising. And when the time comes to convince our deciders of the necessity to preserve fauna habitats, there is no better ambassador than the worried and moving look from a bird.

Art or technique

Some consider bird photography to be a form of art, while others regard it as a simple technique. To me, bird photography is at once an art and a technique. In fact, if there is one photo specialty which requires both artistic expression and the full control of technology, it is bird photography. For a bird photo to be a success, it must combine many qualities. Technically, it must be irreproachable ; which means perfect control of clearness, depth, and light. Everything must be adjusted to emphasize the value of the subject. As for artistic expression, the photographer must succeed in transmitting an emotion to the person observing the photo. He/she must seek out a composition which is both esthetic and natural. Endearing scenes, tragedies, the search for food are all elements which add power to an image. One looking at a photo must have the impression of partaking, incognito, in the grand spectacle of life. The spectator wants to see what is inaccessible to the common of mortals. All things considered, bird photography offers a marvelous challenge. And thus, the satisfaction found in a successful photograph is but magnified.

   Alain Hogue