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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Ten: A Walk in the Park – only minutes away > Waterfowl, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2003
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Waterfowl, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2003

Waterfowl, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2003

When I found this pair of birds resting in the shade of the bushes next to a pond on Scottsdale’s Civic Plaza, I looked for a vantage point that would compare and contrast their similarities and differences. I choose a low camera position to refer them to the water in the background, and to stress the striking differences in the coloration of their bills and hairdos. By framing them in this foliage, I soften the scene, and give these birds a sense of scale. Placing a 245mm tele-converter lens over the zoom lens of my digital camera allows me to shoot from far enough away so as not to disturb the birds, and to partially blur the background for better definition. I move my camera ever so slightly to place the black bill of one of these birds into the curve of the neck of other, intensifying the bond between them.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/200s f/4.0 at 28.8mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
Phil Douglis11-Jul-2016 04:53
Thanks, Claudia -- your comment on this photo is the first I've received since 2007. The last person to comment on it ("Guest") was a friend named Ceci. She was a wonderful writer, and sadly is no longer with us. She created a short story, making these geese into a romantically inclined New York couple, somehow transported to Arizona. You pick up where Ceci left off nine years ago by casting them as honeymooners. I like your conclusion -- the colors seem to celebrate this "marriage." The orange bill contrasts to the black bill, while the red, yellow, green and purple foliage embraces them as a couple.
BleuEvanescence10-Jul-2016 19:36
Even ducks can be romantic...through your lens.
Phil Douglis08-Feb-2007 06:17
You are letting your anthropomorphic fantasies run wild here, Ceci. I am delighted you can identify with these creatures. That, of course, was my goal. You've got them down pat.
Guest 08-Feb-2007 05:38
Out of this world delightful in color, composition, mood, light, the woiks! Looking at it I heard this little chatty dialogue unfolding in my head: "Freddy, I know you like me the way I am, but I felt the need for a bit of a make-over. I was feeling a bit, um, frowsy and beset by a mild lassitude, so I sprung for it. It was fun and didn't cost a lot, but do you think I got my bill too dark? And what about my hair and the cowlick? Do you think it makes me stand out too much? Freddy? Are you listening to me? Freddy?"
Phil Douglis27-May-2006 18:14
Thanks, Shirley, for your kind words. Bird photography is an art unto itself, and I don't have the specialized equipment or patience to get into it at the level of my friend Alister Benn ( ) but when I see birds sitting still at fairly close range within a context that expresses an idea, I do my best to make it work. And that is what happened here.
Shirley Wang27-May-2006 11:39
Simply beautiful!
Phil Douglis19-Feb-2006 21:16
I agree. Those flowers give this image a bucolic feeling, even though I made this picture in the middle of a busy city. I think you might enjoy shooting in this park when you come Arizona to train with me in May.
EB19-Feb-2006 17:15
Much was said below. I especialy like the beautiful extra touch the flowers bring to the framing of that photograph. Christine
Phil Douglis26-Apr-2005 20:09
Thanks, Mattias, for this delightful comment. I can see why you, just as Jen, have added a romantic context here -- it must indeed come from those flowers blooming over their heads! You have picked up where Jen left off and see love in every nuance here. As I told Jen, I had no such intentions, but I am delighted that you both see this image in such a romantic context.
Mattias Backström26-Apr-2005 11:06
I think they seem to be smiling somehow. Like as if they were sort of embarrassed by you interrupting them while they were having a little time on their own. Like a couple in the park, kissing or something. I doubt that birds actually kiss each other, but still. There's something in their expressions that make it look like they're in love :) Maybe I'm just being crazy. But it's a wonderful photo. I like how the one on the right forgot to comb her hair before the shot. It adds up to the interpretation of a little loving moment just before you showed up with the camera...
Phil Douglis09-Oct-2004 05:24

I was delighted by how you sum up what this picture means to you here. I deliberately did not give you any context for my message here, other than how I made the picture. I did not tell you why I made it, yet you have given me as eloquent a reason as I could have asked for. To make these birds into a happy new couple is a charming and romantic concept that never, ever occurred to me while shooting it. As we have discussed here many times, people mirror their own experience when they read images. Like most of us, you seek pleasure, love, permanence and beauty in your own personal relationships, and so these birds have given you just that. If I can make your day more pleasant because of this image by triggering such thoughts in you, Jen, I've done my job as an expressive photographer.
Jennifer Zhou08-Oct-2004 15:56
I have seen many technically perfect wildlife shots but too few of them gave the same feelings of this one does. You were not only taking a picture of a pair waterfowl, but gave them each a human-like character. They are like a new couple swimming down the hall, even the flowers and leaves are on the right place helping to tell the story..
Yes, they are different yet in a such peace mood believing firmly that every day from now on will be wonderful and colorful, nothing can separate them...You create such a cheerful picture here, I really have nothing to criticize about~
Thank you Phil, for giving my a pleasant time while looking at this picture!

mel 08-Apr-2004 13:24
simply brilliant
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