I Like Ugly Animals

I have been told that I like ugly animals. But I don’t think of them as ugly – they are just so, uh, unusual that they’re cute! I found a bird that is even uglier than yesterday’s. His name is Dork the Stork. I always thought storks were elegant white birds, but no, those are egrets, a stork is this:

Wood Stork, Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Please click to view a larger version (if you dare!). I found him at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

I would like to thank all of you who commented yesterday to let me know that it isn’t all about perfection. Personality, character and unique moments bring more to an image than mere perfection. Maybe when I have decades of experience behind me I will be able to get both at the same time. That is very difficult to do especially with wildlife – it’s not like you have all evening to get your settings just right.

Sometimes when things happen you just have to click and hope you were already prepared. Often when I on route to a location I will start changing the settings on my camera before I even get there so I am prepared in case something sneaks up on me. If I know it’s going to be wildlife then I know I need the fastest shutter speed I can get so I will set my camera to aperture priority at around f/5.6 and if the light is still a little dim I will set the ISO to 400. That way the camera calculates the shutter speed and will give me as fast a speed as possible given the light conditions.

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  1. Mim Eisenberg says

    The exposure was perfect, Anne, capturing the play of light and shadow on the wings without losing definition and without blowing out the whites.

  2. says

    He may be ugly but check out that supermodel pose!That’s a great exposure under some very tough light. Any other aviary/wildlife shooting tips would be most welcomed, you’ve inspired me to go visit our local aviary (our local wetlands are now icelands so no birds there) I won’t have a 400mm lens but I do have a decent 300mm I just got for Christmas and I’m dying to try it out on something fun/challenging.
    Can’t wait to see what else you found.
    Howard J recently posted..My 52 Week Project Starts! – Week 1of 52 (Self Portrait without “you” in it)My Profile

    • says

      Hi Howard, thanks for your comments! Well, I’m hardly a wildlife photographer, especially birds they are so hard! The biggest challenge is that they suddenly appear and they are always moving. I like to watch them for awhile ahead of time and get used to the places they like to go and their habits and then you have a better chance of capturing it at a later date. That and the fastest shutter speed you can get! Unless you are trying to capture the motion which is good too. The aviary is a great idea. Let me know how it works out, I would love to see the images.

    • says

      Thank you very much Deanna. Yes there is just something so endearing about ugly animals. Maybe it’s just that they make me feel better about myself, haha. They do have their own beauty, I love seeing the wood storks. They are really pretty big! It’s hard to show the scale without something else in the frame. I’ll have to show one with a wood stork and another bird. Thanks again for your visit and comment.

  3. says

    My wife and I often joke about starting a “Hideous Animal Farm” with only endearingly ugly breeds and species; so far we’ve got a toad and two ball pythons. But “hideous” is a term of endearment around our place. Seriously, though, animals like storks are absolutely magnificent, creatures splendidly suited for being what they are and doing what they do. Great photo!
    Jackson Frishman recently posted..Favorites of 2011My Profile

  4. snowy says

    Another very nice bird photo Anne. Are you finding it pretty easy to approach the birds to fill up the frame like this? I recently got one of the point and shoot type “superzoom” cameras and have found it really fun because I get decent photos even at pretty long distance so that I can ID the bird. But even at around 800mm (35mm equivalent)I have to be somewhat close to fill up most of the frame, at least with small birds.

    I was also curious if that vignette effect was a result of the lens or if you added it later? Either way it draws your eye to the stork.

    • says

      Hi Snowy! No, it is not easy to approach the birds at all, if you move too quickly towards them they just take off. I managed to fill frame because of the big 400mm lens I was using. Plus these are pretty large birds, I don’t think I got any photos of the smaller birds. About the vignette, I added that later. It also helped to remove some of the distraction of the plants around him. Thanks very much for your comments!

      • snowy says

        Thanks for the info and nice work getting as close as you did for this photo. I’ve found that if I’m not getting close enough before they fly off it’s because I’m not running at them fast enough. So I’m working on my running fitness and speed and after I get really fast I might also try to do some studying up on bird behavior (kidding!).

    • says

      Hi Edith! I know, live and learn! The storks look so much more elegant in the cartoons when they carry the babies. I think this thing would terrify a baby 😉 Maybe that way the babies are glad when they get dropped off. Thanks very much for your comments.

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