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Natural Beauty in Motion

Evening Fly-In, Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Morning Fly-Out, Merced National Wildlife Refuge

On Wednesday Claudia and I returned to Merced National Wildlife Refuge with our friend Kirk. We had another great day, capped by watching more than 10,000 Ross’ geese land in a pond right in front of us, silhouetted against the dusk sky. Claudia and I came back the next morning and watched them all fly out, the white birds reflected in the still water.

We took along our little Flip HD video camera, and Claudia captured some wonderful footage of all these events. The first video, of the evening fly-in, starts with a large flock of geese approaching in the distance, and Kirk and I preparing to photograph them, hoping they would would join the smaller flock in the pond right in front of us. They did. Later you can see groups taking off and moving to different spots within the pond, then more large flocks arriving. The second video shows the glittering reflections of the birds in the glassy pond as they head out to fields to feed the next morning.

At the end of each segment I’ve included a few still photos that I made. You can also see a couple of Kirk’s images on Facebook.

As much as I love still photography, there are times when video can capture something that still images can’t. I think this is one of those times. The experience of watching these geese is all about sound and motion—perfect for video.

I remember reading something by Galen Rowell about why he preferred still photography to motion pictures. We remember events as a series of still images, not as long, unbroken movies, and Galen thought that still photographs resonated with us because of that. And I agree with him—still photography has an undeniable power. But sometimes there’s no substitute for the way video can capture movement. They’re both great mediums.

I hope you enjoy these videos. I think they capture at least a little bit of what it’s like to view these amazing birds. Let us know what you think!

I recommend viewing these videos at their highest resolution. After clicking the Play button, you’ll see a number along the bottom like 360p or 420p. Click on this number and select 720p to see the video in high definition. Then click the four-sided arrow in the lower-right corner to view full screen. Or click the caption below the video to view on YouTube.

Also, I wasn’t able to write a critique this past week, but I’ll do that as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience!