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Picture of the Week

June 26, 2010

A male black-headed grosbeak

A male black-headed grosbeak comes in for a landing. Copyright Mark B. Gibson

There are, as always, plenty of assignments I could choose from for the “Picture of the Week.” Swim team practice, baseball games, a massage therapist, kids soccer and basketball camps, little league all-stars, tour of a new medical/fitness building and a swim meet.

It was a busy week, and we lost our news editor Rodger Nichols, who cleaned out his desk and will soon be on the airwaves, covering news at a local radio station. The Chronicle is, temporarily, a newsroom of five, plus three interns here for the summer.

But instead of drawing from all that… my favorite is a picture of the mud bath machine running Sunday… I chose instead a picture of a bird. It’s something Mr. Nichols would understand.

Birds have nothing to do with work. No one assigns me to shoot birds, or asks if I got a good shot. I don’t have to ask their names, how old they are, or introduce myself. They don’t make me wait while they fix their hair, or ask me to make them look younger, or show up late to an appointment.

In a world that is changing far to rapidly for easy transitions, birds are birds are birds, out there living their wild lives regardless.

Taking pictures of them cheers me up immensely.

The story inside the story

Last week I watched a video about National Geographic photographers. They were all presented in a very heroic light, the way I probably viewed them myself back when I was 12 years old, poring over the magazine and deciding to become a photographer.

In one scene there was a wildlife photographer getting eaten alive by jungles mosquitoes and “foot worms” that had borrowed into his buttocks. Why he didn’t use a head net was not explained, although I don’t know if that would have helped with the foot worms.

I was thinking about this as I sat at my kitchen table in my sweatpants, drinking coffee with my feet up on a chair, taking this picture out of an open window.

This particular bird is named “Snaps.” He is a black-headed grosbeak.

He is about to land on a branch that I recently attached to my bird feeder. It was evening, and I used a flash to fill in the shadows.

I didn’t feel at all heroic, but I had a good time. As I’ve heard said in various newsrooms, “This ain’t the (expletive deleted) National Geographic.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Clytie permalink
    June 27, 2010 17:42

    Your grosbeak is stunning – making me gasp and almost inhale a mouthful of coffee. Then I read your commentary and giggled til aforementioned coffee nearly came out my nose.

    Memo to self – don’t drink coffee and look at beautiful pictures at the same time???

    Good morning, bro!

  2. July 21, 2010 06:14

    I gasped when this photo scrolled up. Oh, my. It took my breath away. This is a photo one wishes-one dreams of taking. It is exquisite. And it fills my eyes.

  3. July 21, 2010 06:14

    By the way–I loved what you said about National Geographic. They really lost out when they didn’t discover YOU.

  4. Marilyn permalink
    January 19, 2011 08:38

    Wow! What a shot of this bird in flight. I love the symbolism.

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