Kind of a cool thing happened this morning. I woke up early, so this time I did take the screen off the window and climb out on to the roof to take some pictures of the dawn with the tripod and the Mamiya 7II. I'd forgotten I was at the end of a roll, so, two pictures later, I had to climb back inside again. As I was changing the film I heard a ruckus up the shore, gradually getting louder—Canada geese. Back on the roof, the cacaphony was loud and getting closer fast. Just as soon as I clipped the camera back on the tripod the flock appeared, flying fast and close right along the shoreline, no more than thirty feet from where I stood on the roof. I can't swear to it, but I think the entire flock got itself into the frame of the picture, just for one shot, and then they disappeared behind the trees and the noise got more and more distant until I couldn't hear them any more.
A little while later, one lone goose came paddling by in the water in the same direction, honking forlornly.
They're the only geese I've seen this trip.
The shutter speed was 1/30th—the sun still hadn't come up—so I'm imagining all the birds will be partially blurred. I hope so. (Think "Homage to 'Running White Deer.'") I think I might have to wait a while before I develop that one—I like the thought that it might be something special, even though...well, even though, you know, it might not be.
Yesterday my sister-in-law Basia and I saw ten loons swimming down the shore. I know little about birds, but I'm going to guess it was one or two mating pairs and their now-largish brood(s). I tried to take a picture or two, but let's just say a 6x7 camera with a normal lens is not the proper tool for bird photography.
Except when it comes to random near-flying flocks of Canada geese.
UPDATE: What I was convinced this morning was near-magical serendipity, tonight I'm thinking is more likely just a missed opportunity. I was in landscape mode, ƒ/8 at 1/30th. I honestly didn't have time to open the aperture two stops—the birds were there and gone in just the time to took to trip the shutter—but I think 1/125th or 1/60th was what was needed. The picture that was wonderful in my imagination this morning isn't so wonderful tonight.
P.S. Here's Number Two in our ongoing series of archived "Ten Great Photographs" posts.
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Featured Comment by Chuck Holst: "Loons that have not found mates may gather in flocks in midsummer. On the morning of my 40th birthday I was camped in the Boundary Waters, feeling a bit feverish from a bad cold, when a loon landed in the small bay next to my campsite. Not long after, another landed, then another and another. Before long, there were about two dozen loons swimming near my campsite, a most marvelous birthday present. I have photos around here someplace....
"On another occasion, my only solo trip in the Boundary Waters, I was crossing Tuscarora Lake in a light rain when I saw a flock of about a dozen loons directly in my path. I kept paddling, and as my canoe drew closer, the flock slowly and unhurriedly parted to let my canoe pass through, then just as casually closed up behind me again."