Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pic of the Day

     Horned Puffin – Saint Paul Island; Pribilof Islands, Alaska:  With millions of seabirds nesting on the cliffs of Saint Paul Island, finding an interesting and unconventional pose can be difficult as most species of seabirds typically perch the sameway.  After days of shooting the standard seabird photos, I spent many hours walking the cliffs looking for something unique.
     While shooting along Ridge Wall, on the southwest shore of the island, I found this horned puffin tucked away in a hidden nook.  To access the puffin I had to slide down a wet and slippery grassy slope, then climb a few feet down to a narrow ledge.  In after thought, it was a risky move just for a photograph.  I not only got myself to the ledge, but a camera backpack and tripod as well.   Had I slipped, or the ledge given way I would a fallen eighty feet or more to a boulder strewn shoreline.  Since I was on my own, it would have been days before anyone would have noticed I was missing. 
     The ledge on which I stood was only thirteen or fourteen inches wide, barley enough room for me to stand.  Once on the ledge I barely had room for the tripod.  I actually placed two legs of the tripod on the ledge about ten inches apart, while the third extended to rest on a rock protruding from the wall of the cliff.
     Puffins, auklets and murres were all about me.  As I stood shooting the puffin, parakeet auklets landed on shallow ledges only inches below my feet, they seemed to have no fear of me.  After I was home and had the developed slides in my hand I was very happy I had made the effort.  This image was unique among my seabird photographs; the puffin seemed to be in meditative repose.  I did find that unconventional pose after all.  I spent more than an hour on the ledge that day, and returned three more times during my two-week stay.  The little niche I had found provided one of my favorite images from the pribilofs, and most definitely, one of my most unique experiences.

Nikon F5, Nikkor 500mm f4, Fujichrome Provia 100

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