Photographing and Shooting

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Someone recently told me that I was obsessed with taking pictures. In a bad way. I admit, it hurt. And I thought long and hard about this and while I’ve thought about it, I haven’t taken any pictures. Until today.

I awoke earlier than usual to a familiar sound. The birds were singing. I knew by their songs that outside at the feeders there were Chickadees and Juncos, Finches and Doves, Hummingbirds and the ever pesky Blue Jays. I couldn’t stand it.

I got up, got dressed, grabbed the camera, and while everyone else was still sleeping, I was shooting birds. Not literally.

First, I shot the hummingbirds – two babies and their nattering mommy, telling them to be careful of that lady with that big black thing strapped around her neck. To which they responded to her by sticking out their tongues and talking back. Not very honoring, but very amusing to watch.

Next, the other birds beckoned me with their chatter. I walked toward the fir tree where the other feeders hang and of course they – all flew off. In the summer months, as I work in the garden, they will stay and eat because they’ve gotten used to me being out there with them.  I stood off to the side of the tree and waited. And, one by one they came back. The Juncos and the Chickadees, the Finches and a new little bird I didn’t recognize. So – I shot them, too.

After a few more photos of the hummingbirds, I grabbed my purse and keys and went hunting for more birds to shoot. I drove through the outskirts of town where the orchards and the vineyards lie. Grapevines were still rich in colors of rusts, bronze, golds and purples. Orchards were barren trees spotted with unwanted, golden pears. I saw cows who wondered why I was shooting them. And then I saw my favorite of the morning.

Two red-tailed hawks sat atop a telephone pole in silence as I approached. I slowed and stopped. No one was coming and so – I shot them. And then, one flew off and so I shot him from behind as the other one watched, as if saying to him (or her – I can’t tell), “Chicken.” I would think that would be an insult to a bird of prey. The one left perching let me shoot him several more times without flinching. I tried hissing like a snake, roaring like a lion – anything to get him to fly so I could shoot him in flight. He just looked at me as if I was crazy. As I drove away, I laughed. Perhaps I am.

Down the road an American Kestral waited for me to shoot him before he chickened out and flew off.

One thing that bothers me when I am out shooting little creatures and such is how fast people drive. I was going slow, I was enjoying God’s gifts and this guy just races around me as if he’s got a pregnant wife in labor, inside the car. But that wasn’t the case. He was alone. And it is at times like that I wonder, “Do you know what you’re missing? Have you noticed the colors? The details?” Perhaps I am obsessed, but I don’t think of photographing God’s creation as an obsession. If it is, it’s an obsession with the Creator because what excites me, what prompts me to take pictures is the beauty I see. The amazing color wheel God created and dips his brushes in to paint the sunrise and the sunset, the feathers on each different bird, each cow, each fallen autumn leaf. You usually won’t find me photographing man-made creations (unelss it’s a picture one of my grandkids drew).

When questioning whether I am obsessed or not, I came to this conclusion: my love for photography can be attributed to a love for God and His marvelous, majestic creation. For me, it is a form of worship. It is impossible for me to separate the two from one another. If some think that is an obsession, so be it. I can’t think of a better one (unless of course, writing about being obsessed with a marvelous God).    

What Do Birds Know?

It is raining and I hear an unusual sound as the water streams down from the sky. The clouds above threaten more rain, but the sound around me continues as if unaware. The air grows colder, the clouds gather closer, turning their shades of gray to one of almost black and still the sound continues. I look out my window to see if this can really be happening and there, at my bird feeder, sits three goldfinches and one above in the limb of the fir tree is singing.  He is singing with all  his being. In the middle of a springtime storm. And I think to myself… amazing. Simply amazing.


I know birds cannot read. I know birds cannot understand when I speak to them. I just don’t have the capabilities of which Dr. Doolittle seemed to be gifted. But, somehow they are aware of a great truth that I have trouble with. The truth of Matthew 6:26, which states, “Look at the birds of the air;they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” 

Those were Jesus’ words. That truth came directly from the very lips of the King of Kings. Is it really true that if God says it, we believe it, and that settles it? 

Sometimes, huh? And sometimes it’s hard because you’re in the midst of the storm and it just doesn’t feel as if it’s ever going to let up.

But the birds still sing. They believe and they go on. They may get stuck in the storm falling around them but they don’t let it get inside of them. Why? Because they have learned that their heavenly Father has always taken care of them and he always will. They have learned that they are valuable and all the worry in the world has never and will never help. 

It is raining again. The sound of the goldfinch can still be heard and it makes me smile because they have gotten it – the truth. They believe it and it’s settled: they are cared for greatly. And that, dear friends, means they are loved by the One who loves them most.

One Afternoon in April…

Seven Anna’s Hummingbirds on one feeder with eight feeding holes. Superb. I’ve never had more than two at a time… One Black-headed Grosbeak. Male. First one this season. Exciting… 
Three Acorn Woodpeckers. Wonderful… 
Thirteen or more American Goldfinches. Thrilling… 
One House Finch couple…
Two Gold-crowned Sparrows…
One nesting Bewick’s Wren and her mate, comfortably nestled in the bottom birdhouse. New life… 
Two Northern Bullock’s Orioles, watching from afar, waiting for their plate to be filled… 
Two Red-winged Blackbirds… Six Mourning Doves…
Two Turtle Doves…Northern Red-shafted Flicker… 
Tons and tons of Tree Swallos overhead…
Four Chickadees… 
Two Downy Woodpeckers… 

 

Two Scrub Jays to scare the others away… 

 

One afternoon. Joyously shared with Finn on the back deck in the rocking chair. And did I mention today the roses started blooming?
How could today, this day in April, get any better? God is good!