Unsolicited Praise: Mia McPherson

Wilsons_Snipe-Stanley_Park-Jan_2014

On this Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I thought of starting a series called “Unsolicited Praise,” which will feature a heartfelt post on an extraordinary blogger. As the title implies, these people did not ask for to be included here and nothing is required of them in return. I will include a variety of bloggers in these articles: Although many of them are birders or wildlife photographers, other kinds of photographers or naturalists will also be included. And some bloggers will be featured because they possess one of the great gifts any person can have: That of being able to tell a good story. As much as possible, instalments in this series should appear every Monday, although some weeks may feature additional posts. And at least one of my photos will be included with the story and dedicate to the person in question because it is in some way related to this person’s blog, stated interests or online personality. I hope you will like this feature as much as I am looking forward to writing it!

Choosing the first person to thank was, I will admit, very difficult: Over the past few years, I have visited the sites of many excellent bloggers and even exchanged messages with a large number of them. But since I had to start somewhere, I’ve decided to feature this week two bloggers whose work has most influenced my own modest bird photography efforts in the past few years. Today, I will tell you about Mia McPherson, a highly talented and dedicated bird photographer. Although Mia began to perfect her art in Florida, she now calls Utah home. The quality of her blog, “On the Wing Photography,” is simply stunning.

From my perspective, it doesn’t hurt that Mia uses Nikon cameras and lenses, which I have been partial to since I first purchased the FE-2 film camera in the late 1980’s (my first camera was the highly reliable Pentax K-1000). But in truth, I really enjoy her work and her blog because of the effort that she puts into capturing the perfect shot. And this is far more complicated than it seems: She not only has to find and then foresee the behaviour of her subjects, but must also concentrate on issues linked to composition, lighting and background. And she must do all this even if it the day is cold or hot or wet or mosquito-infested.

In short, the photos she choses to publish (and even the ones she “re-discovers” years later in her archives) are not only all extremely well composed, but also communicate the essence of the bird being captured. This is truly amazing. If you would like to see a few examples of what I mean, please take a look here, here, here or here (and I am only barely scratching the surface with these).

The photo featured above is a Wilson’s Snipe, that I captured during the Stanley Park Ecology Society’s monthly bird count in December 2013. I chose it because, in a an excellent article posted recently, (which features a beautiful picture she took in 2009 of a Willet), Mia wrote that “shorebirds were the spark that ignited my passion for bird photography that continues to consume me today.” The photo displayed above does not feature the extraordinarily luminous and “soft” backgrounds that Mia seems to find so often when she photographes birds, but it is one of the best series of shots that I have managed to take so far of a “shorebird.”

Tomorrow, I will write a few lines about one of Mia’s good friends (and fellow bird photographer), Ron Dudley. Stay tuned…

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