© Joe DiMaggio
I had an assignment to photograph a springtime event. I chose to photograph a mother bird feeding her newborn babies. How would I go about doing this? One way would be to walk around find a nest, set up a camera, wait for the mother, and spend 2-3 weeks photographing mother and her chicks.
Possibly this alternative is much simpler… At the end of the cycle of life, mothers and babies abandon their nest. So what I suggest is to go out and collect one or two nests the year before and put them in an elevated position extremely close to your home in a place safe from harm. Why would you do this? Because it allows you a mini studio. The mother discovers the nest, she lays her eggs and you now have a period of 3-5 weeks to make some interesting photos. Your going to want to shoot at least 1-2 times a day over a period of a couple weeks. This is also a great opportunity to utilize your electronic flash. What I used for this photograph was a 300mm f/2.8 lens and a 1.4 extender, at maximum aperture. You want a very shallow depth of field to throw background clutter out of focus. I used a Dyna-lite Uni 400 and a Jack Rabbit power pack on absolute minimum power. We were not looking for a flash photograph but rather a fill light and a catch light. By moving the strobe away and using less power I was able to utilize mixed light successfully. I also used a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, self timer on-camera, and a Lastolite reflector. You may read this and say to yourself, isn’t that an awful lot of work to get the photo? The answer is no. Pre–production is what its all about. One of the greatest sports photographers in the world was Neil Leifer. Neil had literally hundreds of Sports Illustrated covers and the reason for this was he was a fanatic about research & pre-production so he would get the best possible photographs. He covered all the bases all the time. There were no accidents.