« The Portrait | Main | Number One in the Ten Great Photographs Countdown »

Saturday, 06 August 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Think positively Mike. Who said "the art of photography is acquiring the skill to take advantage of luck"? This could be your masterpiece.

Loons gather into 'gangs' late in the summer ... it is said to be some kind of preparation for migration by some avian behaviourists but my observations of them when they get into gangs is that they seem to be fishing 'cooperatively.' The chicks in August still don't have adult plumage so you would know if it was a 'family' gathering by seeing the now fairly large brown chicks. Cheers from northern Canada!

Nice story. At less for me a big part of the joy of take photographs are this serendipity moments and the state of hope we preserve until we develop the roll. If we get finally a very good picture is the top of the emotion because we can share the concentrated emotions. If i don't get the picture equal I really appreciate the journey.

This is exactly the kind of situation where not being able to "chimp" to see if I got the shot would drive me nuts! Waiting for film to be developed? I could never go back to that. I admit it, I'm forever spoiled by the immediacy of digital.

I hope you'll show us what you did get, no matter how it turns out.


I love a mathematics challenge.

Assume geese flying speed of 35 mph (original data here: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/migratio/speed.htm but that seems a little fast to me, so I have downgraded your geese).

(After some number crunching, they covered about 51 cms in your 1/30th exposure)

If you were doing some proper shooting and assuming reasonable reaction speed on the trigger, you’d need to lead them by about 6.4 metres, or roughly the width of an fist at 30 feet range. As it was early morning and you don’t mention coffee, give yourself an extra 3 yards.

And then hang them for 5 days, prior to slow roasting. Here’s a nice sounding recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mustard-and-Garlic-Roast-Goose-108956

Actually, I could believe 35mph. They came by quite close, and they seemed to be moving very quickly. They also seem to have no trouble doing the goose equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time, because they were honking enthusiastically and with gusto.

I didn't "lead" them at all, as the camera was on a tripod, but we'll see about the camera's shutter lag!

I do think I should share the results, even if it turns out to be nothing. I appreciated the moment, though.


Hi Mike,

I often find that slow shutter shots of flying birds make for more powerful images; possibly because it gives a feeling of ephemeralness to an airborne environment.

From a 16 yr old with vision there is the series below. The 10th image down of him and the birds will stick in my mind for a long time.

all the best phil


were you loaded with BBB, or Portra? You can't eat a picture...

ps. I love James' mix of imperial and metric measurements! In the UK we still use both although we are supposed to be metric. There are some odd hang-overs though; jars of honey etc are 454 grammes as that is the old 1 lb, rather than 500g/half kilo, and liquids are normally 568ml (old pint) rather than half litre.
I've learnt a couple of conversion tricks for distance; metres to feet multiply x3 and add 10%, kilometres to miles divide by 2 and add 1/4 of that (100km would be 50+12.5 miles)

pps. I'm not sure if James meant 30 ft as that seems an awful lot of lead distance.

best wishes phil

@James -- I love the last step in your process. Any suggestions for sides that Mike may shoot (photographically)?


(aside to Mike. I owned a 7ii for awhile some years ago. It wasn't for me, which isn't a patch on the camera. However I did discover that the battery didn't last anywhere near what I would consider sensible for such a simple camera. As the battery was dying, the behavior of the camera became thus: I would click the shutter release, and seconds later, the shutter would trip. As an amateur/hobbyist it hadn't occurred to me to bring a replacement battery since I had only just put a new one in 2 months prior and I didn't shoot large quantities. Naturally this happened at Zion/Bryce Canyon parks where lithium batteries are readily available...

Anyhoo, the camera/80mm lens are wonderful, it just wasn't right for me.)

Thirty miles an hour is the same speed as forty-four feet per second. Rough estimate, the geese travelled about a foot and a half in the 1/30th of a second your shutter was open. I'd expect blur.

Computer scientist and Navy Admiral Grace Hopper frequently distributed pieces of wire just under 12 inches long. She used them to demonstrate the distance light travels in a nanosecond.

Yes, please post the geese.

@ Phil and Patrick,

gulp.. Mixing metric and imperial....guilty..., although as Phil observes, we all do it.

Lead of 6.4 metres is a calculation based upon 0.5 seconds trigger reaction time, plus time of flight of BBB shot to 30 feet from a standard 12-bore shotgun with a target crossing at 0.51 metres/second. Might be slightly out, but you have to do the maths in your head , and in most cases, there's always a second barrel, and if you are really quick with a second shotgun, a second goose.

This should be the end result: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2177/roast-goose-with-potato-and-stuffing

..doh "crossing at 15 metres per second", not 0.51 metres per second. Thus slightly less than half a second to wake up and pull the trigger, and near instantaneous effect at 30 feet.

I need an editor who has not had a couple of glasses of whisky.

Dear Jim,

I think the correct quote is, "The art of photography is acquiring the skill to take advantage of duck."

helpfully yours,

Speaking of tripods--are we ever going to get your promised column on the subject? I've been tripod-bound for months at this point and I find it's changed my photography significantly.

"I think the correct quote is, "The art of photography is acquiring the skill to take advantage of duck.""

What the duck?


Mike.... I can see the picture in my mind...dark background of tree and lake and blurry white geese....a lovely sense of movement ....just like the Caponigro picture ....ann

Shooting film for the past 3 years makes me quietly hopeful about the results of every shutter press... So I think geese 35 mph at around 30 feet may just work. And besides, there's always next year!


Lucky you! When we used to live in northern Illinois, we would look for loons when we ventured into southern Wisconsin, but alas, for us, they remain the "common", but seldom-seen loon.

With best regards,


I am sure the pictures are fine. Better than any picture you took was the opportunity to spend time with your son.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007