Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is a medium sized white and black goose that is most well known for its massive breeding populations up North. They migrate south for the winter, and can often be found in huge congregations. They're casual visitors to Arizona, which is largely out of their normal range, but there's always a chance you'll see a couple mingling wherever else geese are found. There was a vagrant pair out in the middle of the Gilbert Water Ranch ponds this last Saturday.



These are the first Snow Geese I've seen in the state, and the first I've had an opportunity to photograph. With the noon-time sun beating down on these alabaster birds, I decided to try a new route in photography. I don't normally use any sort of image manipulation, other than cropping, when I process photos. But since I couldn't get rid of the sun's white-washing effect, which almost makes the Geese glow purple in pictures, I just went black and white.

Black and white photography is most often used to make classy portrait shots. It is also used by artsy kids in tight jeans who take pictures of dilapidated lawn chairs and rusty bathtubs to make themselves look brooding and contemplative. I'm not crazy about the result here (and not just because it's blurry), but at least the species is discernible, and not engulfed in a purple hue, which is even less natural.


*I found and photographed these Snow Geese and Ross's Geese (2 and 2) several weeks later in Glendale.



10 comments:

  1. Laurence,

    I've yet to photograph Snow Geese up close so I'd be thrilled to have seen and photographed these birds. I'll have to make more of an effort to find them because they are beautiful.

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    1. It was an unexpected treat, so a little sad that they were so far away. It's fun think of these elegant birds congregating by the hundreds of thousands up in Canada. Now that lift-off would be one worth capturing!

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  2. My first Snow Goose was on Thanksgiving Day at a pond in Scottsdale. There were two types of Whistling Ducks that day there too.

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    1. Wow! I've still never seen a Whistling Duck. They're supposed to be around the Tres Rios area in south central Phoenix, but not when I'm there. That sounds like a pretty great Thanksgiving (especially because, I presume, you went home and saw a big turkey afterwards).

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  3. Nice! Glad you were able to get so close! I've never seen a Snow Goose, looks beautiful!

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    1. Far more so than, I fear, I can show here.

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  4. Congrats on getting the snow geese! Good for you on solving the photography problem!

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  5. Great post! My first encounter with thousands of snow geese was last year, after we relocated to Washington. They gather up here, as well, in the Skagit Valley, a phenomenon that is nothing short of magical.

    As far as photographing white geese, I hear you on that. Everyone has their own methodology -- and the difficulty of black, white and silhouettes is exactly why I put my current post's shots into black and white as well. hehe. :)

    I find that spot metering is my method of choice for white birds. It preserves the feather structure. Of course, spot-metering on white will darken the background, so I usually notch up the exposure compensation a bit.

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    1. Thanks Ingrid. I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a lot of development in way of technique, and have even less practice with Snow Geese. Our equivalent down south, both in terms of numbers and black/white photographic challenge, is the Coot.

      I haven't expressly tried Spot Metering, though I experiment with different Manual settings a bit. Odes that work well with shifty/moving objects? I guess I'll just have to check out your blog and see what you mean...

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