Sometimes in wildlife photography, I pre-visualize an image, and work or wait painstakingly for the elements to align. At other times though, the key to success is to be there and let things unfold. This was one of those latter situations. The King Bird-of-Paradise is one of the smallest birds-of-paradise, and is a canopy displaying species that chooses a particular tree as its display arena. To get close enough to capture some images of this quick little bird, I built a platform in an adjacent tree and climbed and hauled up my gear every morning. Call it serendipity, call it luck, but I believe you make your own luck. I was there spending much of the day on my little platform in the canopy for nearly a week. When he wasn’t off having a quick feed, he was actively moving around the crown of his tree, in and out on branches, and up and down vines. At one point, his head was blocked behind a branch when he swiveled into this head-down position on the vine. This unique composition presented itself. And while I had not imagined ahead of time that cutting a bird’s head out would make the image better, this time, it worked. It became a stronger, more intriguing, unique, and genuine image of that moment, while also showcasing the extraordinary colors and tail wires of this bird. It became a winner in the “Creative Visions” category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and also a personal favorite.
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