Madness

The similarities between fishing and photography have not passed me by. There is the time spent away from loved ones, the mix of technical knowledge and skill, not to mention the expensive equipment that to an outsider seems wholly unjustifiable.

While on holiday recently I was lazing in a swimming pool as the sun set, cursing myself for choosing to swim in the golden hour, when a bird flew low over the water to my left and drank from the pool, cutting a wake with its beak before flying up and away. I was simultaneously delighted and irritated. Delighted because I saw something amazing up-close. Irritated because I know in that moment that I would spend the next few nights I would be camped out at dusk, waiting to capture the moment of contact.

This would mean braving the bemused stares of others within the complex, who would wonder at the man trouping to the pool with a long lens each evening, and delving deep in search of patience. It was going to be harder than I thought; the birds came at dusk as the light was failing, they came maybe only once or twice a night, from different directions and to different parts of the pool.

Method

In order to cover as much of the surface as possible I resolved to shoot with as deep a depth of field as I could manage in the failing light, while maintaining a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action. I have watched people fish, and once tried to cast; (I snapped the line and hurled a few pounds worth of equipment across a lake), but as I sat as motionless as I could, camera prefocused, thumb hovering over the shutter-release I felt as much like an angler as I ever have.

The birds came and went, played and dove, drinking from the parts of the pool outside of my camera’s frame, as I waited – tense and yet at peace, focused, yet still relaxed. The shot above is the best of a few captured in the dying light which served only to whet my appetite. I have already formulated a plan involving multiple cameras, in the hope of improving upon it next year.

Until then it remains the one that got away.