Featured Image of the Week – 6/24/2015

“a Preening Macaw”

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last shared something here on my blog. Eight months! Well hopefully there won’t be another gap like that in my blog posting…

I took a bit of a side trip back to the world of retail audio/video and it left me with considerably less time than I expected. While the lack of time was certainly a negative it did have some positives. Working for a national retailer gave me some serious discounts on some new photography products that I really love (I plan to talk about them more in the weeks to come). But until then here’s a little background on this weeks Featured Image of the Week:

Wildlife at Bush Gardens

This week’s featured image is a blue & gold macaw I saw while visiting Bush Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. The trip was meant to be a fun getaway and, after years of visiting Disney parks, a chance to experience a different kind of theme park.

Overall I really enjoyed myself and, like most major theme parks, there was a lot to see and do. The picture taking opportunities were endless. On this trip I left my big cameras behind and opted for a new mirrorless camera that I’ve been using recently (I’ll talk more about that in a future article).

As a wildlife photographer I was instantly drawn to a section of the park called: “Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve”. At first I was a little on guard since I don’t care for the idea of keeping animals just to entertain people. I know all about the National Zoo and their tireless efforts to save species but I’m less aware of the practices of other parks, reserves and zoos.

While I don’t know the full story of Bush Gardens (part of the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment corporation) I did get a positive feeling from the staff that looked after the animals that call this place home. Having a wolf show, for example, sounded exploitative until I found out the history of those beautiful (and rather huge) animals. It turns out most of them were badly injured (probably by a car) rescued and sent here to recover. For me the jury is still out but I will definitely be looking in to them more.

One of the more colorful animals that caught my eye was this preening blue & gold macaw I’m featuring as my image of the week.

The Golden Spiral

Generally speaking I don’t share pictures of animals cleaning themselves but what struck me was the shape of the macaws body from where I was standing. It looked to be forming a “Golden Spiral” with it’s body. What’s a golden spiral? It’s another way of determining your pictures composition (like the “rule of thirds”). I can talk more about this at a later date but let me simplify:

There is a natural curve that starts in one of the images corners and, if you follow the spiral, it will lead you in to the photograph and end up at one of the strongest parts of your image. It’s like a leading line but even better! Here’s a look at the image with a golden spiral superimposed over the image:

a golden spiral over my image

Here's a look at the shot with a golden spiral

Is the shape of the bird following the spiral? Not entirely, but the general shape is definitely there. So is the ending point of the spiral (near the macaw’s eye). Compositionally it definitely works. The lesson here is – the rule of thirds can be a nice way to compose a shot it’s certainly not the only way.

So this weeks image is a colorful bird and a different way of composing your final image all in one. Bonus!

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