Steam as Bird Backdrop

//Steam as Bird Backdrop

Steam as Bird Backdrop

My affection for wildlife in urban and industrial settings brings me the subject of steam. There are obviously a lot of distracting elements in urban photography. Although I lean toward a photojournalistic style of realism when I encounter them, I also find it challenging to show the grit of these scenes while retaining some aesthetic and balance in the shot. That’s when I’m shooting wider, contextual shots.

For closeups, even in the city grind, I can often find great backdrops or natural frames that use urban components to enhance the shot (well, at least in my humble opinion). My most recent example:

I saw this Double-crested Cormorant perched against a Seattle shipping dock where the clutter of the background is also what makes the setting visually interesting to me: Fishing boats, super yachts, cruise ships, Coast Guard Zodiacs and Seattle police on water patrol are elements of this “natural” environment.

The cormorant was perched and preening on a piling in front of this chaos, but I noticed one sphere of murkiness behind the silhouette: Puffs of steam wafted in the background. I positioned myself so that the steam shrouded the maritime activity behind the bird.

I shot one frame wide to show the whole scenario, then zoomed in for the more isolated shot of the cormorant, to show the contrast in point of view.

Double-crested Cormorant on Elliott Bay in Seattle

click for larger image - ©ingridtaylar

My previous favorite bird + steam shot was Gull of the Revolution, photographed on a winter day at the Seattle waterfront, framed by skyscrapers, steel girders and cloud puffs from the Seattle steam facility in the background. I converted it to almost-sepia for my Bird Noir series.

Gull of the Revolution - ©ingridtaylar

Other Free Quark posts tagged with cormorant

By | 2012-09-08T15:24:49+00:00 September 8th, 2012|Blog, Cormorants, Pacific Northwest, Urban Wildlife & Nature|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mia McPherson September 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Ingrid, I love how your photos illustrate the setting with the steam in the background and then how when you zoomed it all of the disappeared. The first photo is my favorite which surprises me because I normally prefer a more natural setting without the hand of man. My tastes are ever evolving though.

    • ingrid September 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks, Mia. Thank goodness for the evolution of thought and spirit. 🙂 btw, I know what you mean about “the hand of man.” I think because I photograph so often in urban settings, it seems a bit of a disservice to the animal (at times) if I don’t reveal the incredible circumstances in which he or she is making a living.

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