Tim Boyer Photography

Small Groups, Cool Birds, Fun Locations

Action versus Motion (repost)

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer

“Life rewards action” Dr. Phil

“Never mistake motion for action” Ernest Hemingway

A Brown Pelican does a fly by on a rainy day during an El Nino year in San Diego.
A Brown Pelican does a fly by on a rainy day during an El Nino year in San Diego.

Motion 

This is an image of a Brown Pelican on a rainy day in La Jolla California.  Taken in January 2005, with an EOS 3 film camera.  The flash and a slow shutter speed to blur the wings were intentional.  I had the right idea, just not the correct execution of those ideas. I think this captures the motion of the bird, but I don’t think it captures action.  If I would have used a second curtain shutter sync and the blur was behind the bird, I would be conveying progress in flight, and have captured action.   Words matter don’t they?  I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between words and how we choose them.  Motion and action are different, action is progress, getting somewhere, moving forward in flight or life.  Motion could be flittering around, just keeping busy, not doing what has to get done to move forward.  Motion has the appearance of action, but not the rewards.

Sandhill Cranes leaving corn fields after a day of feeding, headed to ponds where they will roost for the night.
Sandhill Cranes leaving corn fields after a day of feeding, headed to ponds where they will roost for the night.

Action 

In this image of Sandhill cranes, I watched the birds move from corn fields to ponds where they roost for the night, for a couple evenings so I could plan the best location for this action shot.  I used pan blur technique and a slow shutter speed of 1/20th of a second.   The pan blur created a soft background, and the slow shutter blurred the wings.  The closest crane’s head is sharper than its wings, tail and feet, conveying forward movement, progress toward a goal, action.

This image was created after sunset with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II and a 600mm  F4 lens, in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

Life Strategies, Doing what works, Doing what matters, Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D.

Hemingway quote from Rick Sammon, www.RickSammon.info