Karen and I were stalking treasure at early morning yard sales, Saturday. She looks for baby clothes, toys and such and I hunt for old frames I can fix up and use. And I carry the camera everywhere just in case something shows up in front of my eyes that demands to be shot.
The sun was low and gold when we got to the second yard sale and we walked up the drive under some beautiful old live oaks. As Karen moved on into shopping mode, I turned around for some reason and looked up and had one of those moments when you immediately know it will be worth framing and you know how to crop it and your heart stops. It was the light, mostly, even more than the male cardinal. The new Spring leaves on the oak were brilliant green and there were deep shadows behind a cardinal that defined scarlet. The sunlight flowed over the image like syrup. The bird was sitting proud, looking to the right, his crest perfectly combed.
And yes, I know. The picture below is not actually a cardinal. There are many birds I can't identify but I've trained myself to perceive th subtle differences between cardinals and buzzards.
Because, while I carry the camera everywhere, I don't always carry it around my neck. I was standing, mesmerized by the red cardinal set off by the deep greens and blacks behind him. And the camera was 50 feet away under a pile of baby clothes in the car.
"Will you wait while I get it?" I asked the cardinal. It laughed in a derisive little tweetery way.
Buzzards, of course, are willing to wait for you to go get the camera. In fact, if you didn't have a camera, they are willing to wait for you to go and buy one.
Dang! That cardinal photograph was one of the best shots ever!! And I had been lazy and left the camera in the car. Can I hear a chorus of "tsk tsk tsk" from all you photographers out there?