Mr Cormorant, Please stay still!
I have had my fair share of difficult bird shots but photographing this cormorant proved to be the most difficult and interesting shoot yet. I was taking a stroll at a nearby lake (with my camera of course) when I noticed a water bird off in the distance. At first I thought maybe it was a duck but then I noticed the sharp tip of the beak; Then it disappeared. For a few seconds I swore that I had seen a bird out there. I continued my stroll and looked on the other side of the pier and there it was again, this time a little closer. I grabbed my camera and began to zoom in and that is when I realized it was a cormorant.
What is a cormorant
According to allaboutbirds.org, a cormorant is a matte black bird that resemble a combination of a goose and a loon. Cormorants are found near fresh water areas in North America and are known for diving and catching fish. I have only seen them in flight once. The length of their wing span surprised me because I didn’t know it was 44-48 inches.
Since the website above stated that they tend to hang around fresh water, it was no surprise to me that I spotted one at the lake we were visiting. I assumed that the disappearing act was its attempt at catching lunch. It was a very interesting spectacle to watch.
May I take a picture?
I had a lot of difficulty keeping track of the cormorant, composing, and making the shot. If you’ve ever seen a cormorant in action while in the water, you know that it submerges its entire body under water for several seconds in search of food. When it resurfaces it’s usually in a spot nowhere near its previous location. I felt a little silly raising and lowering my camera numerous times trying to figure out its location. I attempted to anticipate its moves but that failed quickly.
Several minutes after first noticing the bird, I got the shot. When I looked at the back of my camera, the cormorant was completely shadowed in and the water was a wonderful blue color. That’s because th camera metered off of the majority of the scene; brightly lit water. By that time Mr. Cormorant was off in the distance. Shot missed… so I thought.
A few minutes later the cormorant appeared right next to the cement pier we were walking on. It was much better to get a shot of then it’s because it was closer. The sun provided ample light for the bird and the water so my scene would not be blown out. It was still ducking and diving sporadically in the water. Composing the bird so that it was off center was mainly due to its sporadic movements.
On a final note
The cormorant is a busy bird in my opinion. I have only seen it at rest when it spreads its wings to dry off along the shore. It’s not often that I’m able to get close to one. Me walking on the pier and the cormorant wanting lunch had a large part to do with our close encounter. My advice for photographing a cormorant?It may get frustrating because of its sporadic movements but my advice is to be patient; Its a wild animal going about its daily life and surviving.
Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time
55-300mm at 270mm 1/800sec f/11 ISO 250