It might not seem like there’s a whole lot to this picture, but in a lot of ways it represents the culmination of many years of practice, patience, and education.
But it’s a goose, right? I mean, how complicated could this picture possibly be? The answer is, a lot more than you might think.
Theta Pond, on the OSU campus, is inhabited by geese pretty much year-round. Only in the coldest months of winter will you not find geese swimming or otherwise milling about, but despite their ubiquity they do tend to keep a safe distance when it comes to pedestrians and passers-by. Despite seeing geese almost every time I go for a walk around the pond, I have only a handful of good pictures of them–even when I use my 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens. And none of my geese pictures are up close and personal like the one you see above, mostly because the geese just don’t let people get very close. There’s a host of other elements that have to be line up just right too: lighting, wind, pedestrians, other geese, wayward squirrels, and even some ducks that like to cause trouble for their avian cousins. What this all boils down to is the simple fact that despite having a near-constant presence of geese at Theta Pond, getting a picture like this turns out to be fairly difficult.
I was walking near the pond in early April when, as is not uncommon, I happened upon a goose just sort of chilling on the sidewalk in the afternoon sun. I had my Nikon D750 and 105mm macro lens with me, but I didn’t think I would have much luck with a picture since these situations usually result in the goose taking leave of the situation long before I can get a shot that I like. This time, however, things were a bit different. I knelt down and crept close to the goose…and it didn’t move. It just eyed me cautiously, but with a sense of curiosity as well. I put my camera in Live View so I could hold it about a foot off the ground with the tile-screen facing upward while I slowly closed the distance between me and the bird. I took a couple of pictures, almost holding my breath thinking that the goose would hiss at me and fly away at any second. And yet it remained.
I kept taking pictures while slightly adjusting the aperture and changing my own angle of view so as to catch a glint of sunlight in the goose’s eye. The goose just sat there, unfazed by me and my camera, and let me go about my business for a precious few more seconds. Soon it decided it had enough of my camera shenanigans and got up to relocate while leaving me to contemplate my good fortune. This was my favorite picture of the batch, and even thought I shot it at a fairly wide aperture of f/4 the depth of field remains well-controlled, and I like that the front part of the bird’s beak is just slightly out of focus. It adds a sense of depth that was not present in some of my other shots.
Bonus: If you click on the picture to load the original full-size version on Flickr and zoom way, way in on the eye you can actually see a reflection of me kneeling down on the sidewalk to get the shot :)