Last week I was at the beach, walking amid piles of driftwood that recent winter storms had scattered from the high tide line to the cliffs, and enjoying a respite from several days of heavy rain. I returned to my car to find that a gull had decided to soak up some warmth from the engine compartment. My camera equipment was locked in the car, but I did have my smart phone with me, so I grabbed a few quick shots. The gulls along these beaches are pretty fearless, so I was able to get quite close. When I went to get into the car, the gull flew away, only to land on the hood again as soon as I had closed the door.
Once I was in the car, I was able to grab my camera equipment and do some more shooting from inside the car. The gull obliged me with a variety of poses. For the record, it did have two good legs, but chose to only stand on one to conserve heat.
I played around with a number of compositions, and in most of them decided that I wanted to show the car and the fact that I was shooting from inside it. Rather than just having images of the gull without the context of its surrounding, these images tell the story of it taking advantage of beach visitors and their warm car hoods on a cool and cloudy day.
Since the gull was being so cooperative, and I didn’t have any place I had to be for a while, I decided to switch over to a telephoto lens for some close-up shots (final image, below). I used a 180 mm lens, which only allowed me to capture the head and neck of the bird, and that was only possible if I pushed the seat as far back as it would go, reclined it, and then slithered halfway up the back to have enough focusing distance. Despite my less-than-graceful contortions shaking the car to and fro, the gull wasn’t bothered in the least.
As for my part, despite the cramped quarters, I have to admit that this was one of my most comfortable bird shoots ever. Unlike during many of my bird-shooting forays, I was warm, dry, had food and drinks, and my equipment was protected from the elements. And I even had a pretty clean windshield through which to shoot! I continued to shoot in these deluxe surroundings until the light faded away. The gull didn’t fly off until I started up my car and began to drive away.
I guess both the gull and I enjoyed being in the Right Place at the Right Time!