Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Birds Of Paradise
With the trained eye of a scientist, Tim Laman captures the behavior of the world’s most rare and extraordinary birds
Patience, persistence and ear wax—three requirements for photographing the world's 39 species of birds-of-paradise. (Yes, ear wax—more on this later.) It only took eight years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea and Australia for photographer Tim Laman to pull off this remarkable photographic and scientific achievement.
"There's a reason why no one has ever done a serious job of photographing all of the birds-of-paradise," says Laman. "It's virtually impossible to walk around a rain forest carrying a camera and get a picture. The birds are too high up in the trees or too hard to approach closely."
So Laman spent countless hours climbing trees, rigging blinds and hauling gear up as high as 160 feet into the canopy of the rain forest. And then he waited. And waited. And waited. In today's frenzied world, where instant is the new normal, some things can't be rushed. There's no substitute for good, old-fashioned patience, a virtue that Laman has in droves. He built more than 100 photo blinds, and together with ornithologist Edwin Scholes, spent more than 2,000 hours crouching and waiting for those magical moments when the birds appeared. Their patience was rewarded and the results are beautifully displayed in their book, Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World's Most Extraordinary Birds (National Geographic Society, 2012).
But nothing about the project was easy, and 10 days into Laman's first expedition, he hadn't made a single publishable photo. He wrote in his journal, "What have I gotten myself into?"
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