Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Back When There Was Film...

Sedge Wren and Aggressive Display                     Date: UNKNOWN

There is a certain beauty to film.  Only a few years ago, we loved the different grains and the character given to an image by its imperfection.  We chose films for their colors.  I was a big fan of Velvia and Provia for their "Spring and Summer up at the Lake" kinds of colors, but I also loved the look of Kodak Lumier S.  The "S" stood for "Saturated".  The saturation leaned toward "warm."  Perhaps the greatest beauty to the film was the simple fact that we could get away with just a little more imperfection in our craft.  A razor-sharp look at a bird's eye was still ideal, but there just wasn't enough information in the protein-and-chemical matrix to cause us to throw out a shot if we loved it. I have grown to love the sense of anonymity in time presented by my old film.  There is no digital stamp, no record of travels in a series of numbered files.  A lone slide in a sheet of twenty archived favorites is at high risk for sliding into mystery, giving up its exact time and context to the aging memory.  This Sedge Wren was photographed amid the alders on the south end of a dirt road in Burnett County, Wisconsin.  I still know the exact spot.  The dirt road still exists as a levy, and the wire-grass sedge and alder lowland still beckons me to explore.  This Sedge Wren sang a territorial song there one year in late May, perhaps June.  It was after 2003 and before 2007.  It was a beautiful day that I remember well, but I really don't remember when it happened.   Sometimes the joy in a memory is the strength of the grain and the imperfection in the image.

This image was made with a Canon A2E that I purchased in 1999.  It was made with a Canon 300 f4L IS lens that I purchased in 2003.  The film was, most likely, Fuji Provia 100.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Life on the Lonely Lek?               20 April 2008

Sharp-tailed Grouse male, displaying

Brushland prairie is rare, valuable stuff.  Very few places in Wisconsin have the right sands, a history of wild fire, and the right landscape to promote the Sharp-tailed Grouse.  The places that remain tend to hand wildlife biologists plenty of challenges and mysteries.  Piles of grouse feathers were scattered in piles about the lek in 2006. Perhaps it was the work of a talented harrier, a grouse lek picked apart by predation?  And what about the nests and the continuing promise of new birds?  Overrun by nest-dumping Ring-necked Pheasant, perhaps?  By 2008, this dancing ground held only a single bird.  He was determined, but, on this day, he danced alone.

All images were made with a Canon Rebel XTi and Canon 300mm f4L IS lens.  It seems like yesterday, but these images were made nearly seven years ago!