Those Beautiful Eyes: How a Photographer Uses Sharp Eyes to Convey Emotions

Photo of a sparrow perched on a tre limb looking at the viewer. The Eyes Have It, 500 mm, 1/800 second, f/6.3, ISO 800 © Sastry Karra
The Eyes Have It, 500 mm, 1/800 second, f/6.3, ISO 800 © Sastry Karra

By Sastry Karra

It is often said that the eyes are a window to the soul. The face of any living creature is usually the first thing that catches our attention, and the eyes are where we instinctively and immediately go. The eye figures prominently when it comes to conceptions of beauty. Sight (looking at others) is also a form of communication, an instinct that we inherit at birth, similar to art and music. Sometimes, poets emphasize that eyes speak what lips can’t. So, the eyes of a subject can mean many things and it makes perfect sense that one of the first rules of wildlife photography is to make sure the eyes are sharp.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a pelican floating in the water with a beer can in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

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A Decisive Moment in a Bluebird Minute

The decisive moment when the female bluebird approaches the nest while the male bluebird stands guard.
The decisive moment when the female approaches the nest while the male stands guard.

Story & photos by Bob Feldman

This is the story of a single minute in the lives of a pair of nesting eastern bluebirds. Encompassed within that one minute was a decisive moment when a hoped-for image was captured: an action photo of a female bluebird flying high and carrying nesting material close-approaching her nest box from the left while her male mate looked on from the upper right part of the box’s roof. This hope was not unreasonable; it was based on repetitive observation of more or less routine bird behavior. However, even observation could not take place until the right physical environment for bluebirds had first been established.

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Chasing Spring Warblers

Magnolia Warbler

Story and photos by Bill Palmer

Most of us are pretty adroit at photographing eagles, hawks, pelicans, ducks and other large birds, but what about photographing small, hyperactive, secretive birds such as warblers? Adding to the challenge, when you do get a chance to see one, it may only be visible for a few seconds and is often in dark shadows. From basic bird biology, to techniques, to equipment, here are some field-tested hints to photographing these challenging species.

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Photographing Birds of Prey

Photo of owl in flight, © Scott Dere.
Photo © Scott Dere

Birds of Prey are fascinating animals.  Fierce and determined, swift and dangerous, they make great photographic subjects.  But, and there’s always a “but” in nature photography, they’re devilishly difficult to photograph.  If you’ve found yourself challenged when attempting to capture great images of these magnificent creatures, sign up now for NANPA’s Webinar, “Photographing Birds of Prey,” presented by Scott Dere, which will begin on Wednesday, December 11th at 4pm EST.

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