Change can be challenging to deal with sometimes. I think we all have gone through something that changes our lives. Sometimes they are tough, like a breakup, a divorce, or a death in the family, whatever it might be. I made a plan to go back to Lake Hodges because I screwed up a photo by getting excited and not paying attention to what I was doing. Instead of focusing on the bird, I focused on the branch of the tree. The background was beautiful, as you can see down below.
I went back to give it another try. The weather was perfect with some thin clouds and a lot of sun shining. The lake was packed with people all over the place. Later, I would find out that someone posted on Birding in San Diego’s Facebook group page saw a Vermillion Fly Catcher at the lake. Let me tell you, this little guy is a beauty. It spends the winters in the southern part of its breeding range, Southern California and parts of Mexico.
The male is a stunning bright red with a black back and wings, with a red crown and underparts. I was hoping I would get a chance to photograph one. I took a good photo of one when I was with my aunt Kathey camping for the winter in Winterhaven, California. You can see it down below.
I got back to the spot where the trees were. I set my tripod up; I made sure that it would not fall over because I was so excited to try and get great photos of birds with exciting backgrounds that accentuate the bird and won’t be a distraction. Something did not feel right. I looked over at where the tree was, and it was gone. Someone broke all of the branches, and not much of the tree was left.
Let’s imagine what kind of emotions I was feeling at that time! I was mad! I had my video camera on and capture the moment I discovered what happened. I threw a little temper tantrum! Not a big one, just a little one.
So change is coming. What am I going to do now? I thought to myself that I can continue to be upset or be positive and do something different. I decided to go to a different area of the lake and see what I could photograph. What the right decision it turned out to be. Not only did I get what I consider a couple of great photos and several good photos. I met some of the most amazing people and animals along the way.
One was a young man probably in his early 30s with his dog. He was going through a hard breakup, sold all of his possessions, bought a camper van, and hit the road. He was knowledgeable about a variety of subjects. The conversations we had about traveling and just figuring out life were a great exchange of thoughts from two people dealing with change.
Obivisley the change he was experiencing is a lot tougher than me not photographing a bird. I took several photos of his dog and showed them to him. He asked if I could email them to him, I said sure. He did not have recent photos of him and the dog, so I took a portrait shot. Thank god my aunt Kathey was an expert at portrait shots of people because her training came out when I checked my composition and noticed the dog’s feet were missing, and I could not see the young man’s face because his hat shaded his face.
I asked him to adjust it to see his face, and the photos came out fantastic! He loved them so much he paid me! There were so many people I met that day. We all had masked on and stood six feet away but still communicated with each other and shared our excitement of being outside enjoying the day.
I was having such a great day! It turned out to be a fantastic day for photographing birds. I would discover something that made me feel good about myself in the way I dealt with change. I decided to go back to my original spot. I got there when the sun was close to setting behind the mountains, and everything started to glow.
When I saw it again, my heart starts to pound. I control my breathing because a Yellow-Rumped Warbler is perched on a stump sticking out of the ground. The background is fantastic! I am about 20 feet away. Two young ladies are having a picnic and taking selfies by the water. The bird is about 25 feet from them.
I slowly start to approach the bird praying the whole time for it not to fly away. I got to my spot and looked through my viewfinder, and begin to whisper my favorite sonnet. It helps me to calm down. I can hear the two girls giggling and laughing at me as I am photographing the bird. I can make some strange sounds and words of poetry come out of my mouth. I can’t help it. The odds of getting a great photo are so tricky because you have to have so many things go your way.
I move a little closer, and I see something that I recognize. The stumped the bird is perched on is the trees stumped that someone destroyed. You know, the one that I had planned on photographing the birds on with the great background. I had the right plan, just did not think I had to look the other direction to make it happened.
That’s what I am happy about how I dealt with the change. Sometimes I think we all look at change as something we don’t want to happen in our life. Because well, it’s new and unknown. I did not have to do anything different that day but stay positive and stay present.
Based on a true story.
By Michael Vance Pemberton
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