Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The best photograph of a cardinal ever...

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?


  1. ain't that always the way it is?
    i can hardly wait for tomorrow's zebra...

  2. Actually, they're probably saying - you should see my 'best photograph ever' ... Another great story Mark!

    You described the cardinal, the setting and the light so magically that I feel as if you presented us with the photograph. Your mind certainly captured the moment.

  3. tsk, tsk, tsk...oh you know we all do the same thing! And the best shots are always when you leave the camera behind.

  4. tsk,tsk,tsk, so sorry you missed the photo but you gave us the picture. Takes even more talent. Wonderful description.

  5. Yes, the best shots are the ones that never make it to pixels. I do happen to like this buzzard very much though. Perfect texture and that expression like he is waiting for you to die is priceless.

  6. tsk, tsk (you are still awesome!)

  7. I hate it when that happens!

  8. LOL Mine inches toward death whether its around my neck or not.

  9. Hi Mark
    but that buzzard is a great second best. I love the way that he tones in with the bare tree trunk and branches

    Happy days

  10. When really good shots come along, my camera is usually home in a drawer.