As we prepare for another Thanksgiving holiday I decided to spend some time at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to quietly think about my good fortunes, good health, good friends and marvelous family. I prepared the camera gear and know that Ridgefield never disappoints. But honestly, I was out there mainly to enjoy the calm, watch the birds and appreciate the morning and the life I live. A thermos of coffee, 2 cameras with telephoto lenses mounted, charged batteries and no expectations… a great recipe for time at Ridgefield.
My day started with 3 quick snaps of a Belted Kingfisher sitting on top of a snag just past the entrance station at Ridgefield. These are my first shots of a Kingfisher this year. The light was dull and so were my shooting skills so the photos don’t make the blog. I swear, I need to do some camera stretches every time I pick up a camera. I was pleased that I remembered to “zero” the camera settings before heading out but it always seems that it takes me several frames before I get into the swing of nature photography.
I drove on and it began to rain lightly. I got one mediocre shot of a red-winged blackbird on the cat tails. Not a big disappointment since I really have enough shots of these common but beautiful birds. I moved on down the road and did not encounter much to inspire stopping for photos. I noticed that the light was breaking to the south and east and thought it would be good to get to the east side of Rest Lake so the sun would be at my back as I looked over the lake. A good idea it turns out. I parked in the first location where teasel doesn’t block the camera view of the lake and noticed that the scene was something I’d always wanted to have in front of my camera. Dark storm clouds on the horizon, brightly lit trees on the far shore, well lit (a bit too bright?) birds on a blue lake. I took a few shots and cussed at the grasses on the dike. “It’s a little thing, Bruce” I told myself…. “concentrate on the big picture”. This is a rare light event and I was really hoping I didn’t mess it up. And then it happened…. a rainbow began to appear. I jockeyed for a position where I could put the rainbow end behind some swans and at which there was not too much foreground grass. I shot, checked the exposure, adjusted and hunkered in to see what happened. Here came the birds. Come on swans…. fly into the frame … PLEASE! Oh yeah! Feel free to click on the image to get a larger view.
I knew the rainbow and light would not last too long so I moved a bit to keep the swans lined up with the rainbow’s arc. The colors intensified even to my eyes. I was telling myself to just sit back and watch, enjoy it. Not gonna happen. Here’s another shot of swans on approach through the rainbow on what has to be one of the best shooting moments I’ve ever had at Ridgefield. I was wishing that my friend Eric could be there to catch this scene as well. I was wishing Dianne was with me to add her appreciation and guidance to the photo exercise. I wished everyone could be there to witness this beauty. I sure got what I went for and more than I ever imagined possible. It was a gift. Yes, I am thankful… in so many ways. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends. Best wishes to all our friends in India and Iceland. Be well, all.